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USU's History Department Highlighted in a Global Periodical

Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Norm Jones

Norman L. Jones (left), chair of USU's history department, is a state leader in the Lumina project, a project to increase the nation's level of high-quality college degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

Utah State University’s history department was featured in “The Chronicle of Higher Education” in an article describing efforts to improve the quality of college degrees.

The department is working with the Lumina Foundation for Education, a private, independent foundation that strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access to and success in education beyond high school. The goal of the particular Lumina project the history department is working on is to “increase the nation’s level of high-quality college degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025,” according to

Norman L. Jones, chair of USU’s history department and a state leader in the Lumina project, is incorporating Lumina ideas into the history department by better articulating what a student should know and do by graduation.

The article quoted Jones from an essay he wrote that was published in the American Historical Association’s “Perspectives on History.” Jones wrote, “The Lumina project is moving beyond Americans’ heavy reliance on the standardized student credit hour as the measure of an education.

“The demand for outcomes assessment should be seized as an opportunity for us to actually talk about the habits of mind our discipline needs to instill in our students. It will do us a world of good and it will save us from the spreadsheets of bureaucrats.”

Other USU history professors were noted in “The Chronicle” article as also being on board with the Lumina project. The article said Christopher A. Conte, director of graduate studies in the history department, has begun to “spell out the department’s goals for the knowledge, thinking and skills that history students should be able to demonstrate.”

Susan O. Shapiro, an associate professor of history and classics, said “The project is a call for historians in her state [Utah] to articulate learning objectives. It allows flexibility for individual professors to adapt statewide learning goals to their specific courses and prompts introspection that has led to greater clarity of purpose in the classroom.”

Also quoted was Aurora Wallis Durfee, a senior history major at Utah State. She said she agrees with the guidelines as they helped her improve her work and develop needed skills.

The dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, John C. Allen, was excited about the national coverage the history department received.

“This was an honorable accomplishment for USU’s history department to be recognized nationally in “The Chronicle” for our work on improving education. The department and College of Humanities and Social Sciences will continue to work with the Lumina Foundation to offer the highest level of education in the nation to our students,” Allen said.

“The Chronicle” is Washington, D.C. based periodical, focused on news, information and jobs for higher education faculty and administrators. “The Chronicle’s” audited website traffic is routinely more than 12 million page views a month, seen by more than one million unique visitors.

To read the entire article, visit “The Chronicle” website.

Contacts: Norm Jones, 435-797-1293,
Natalie Archibald, 435-797-1195,
Writer: Kayla Hall, 435-797-2759,

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