History is indispensable for understanding the modern world and in understanding great contemporary public debates, for example on the Cold War, the Middle East, the Holocaust, the decline of the United States, the rise of China, and on the economic crisis in the West. History provides a critical perspective on the present by contrasting it with the past. The past is in itself fascinating and at times sheer fun to study. Who can read about the exploits of Alexander the Great, Hannibal or Napoleon without a sense of adventure? A broad interest in the past for its own sake can help avoid the tunnel vision that too much present-mindedness may engender.
Within the many disciplines taught at University College Utrecht, History has a distinctive approach to understanding reality. Comparing the historical approach with other disciplines is essential in coming to grips with the college's Liberal Arts and Sciences philosophy. History is a valuable track for many future careers, as the skills learned are useful whether as a politician, a journalist, an economist, an international lawyer, a diplomat, a sociologist or even a businessman. They all have to study and interpret the past. History courses help in doing so critically, and in avoiding dogmatism and singlemindedness.