Head of History Major
Dr. Wendy E. Closterman
If you are fascinated by life in past times and places, you'll love the study of history at Bryn Athyn. Not only is our Philadelphia location ideal for exploring key events and ideas that shaped the United States, the on-campus Glencairn Museum's collection of religious art will help you examine the history of cultures around the world.
As a history major, you will make connections between the past and the present by exploring the complex web of causes and effects through time. The major centers on the important role of human societies in shaping our understanding of God, our humanity, and our concept of identity. Accordingly, the courses that make up the major—in history, anthropology, and political science—examine how different human societies have struggled with vital questions including: What is the human condition?, Who is God?, and How should we live?
You'll develop your understanding and appreciation for history as well as your skills in research, analysis, oral presentation, writing, and in the ability to evaluate evidence and conflicting interpretations.
Increasingly, historians are using material culture as one means of understanding past societies. At Bryn Athyn, in addition to learning to critically examine textual evidence, you will learn how to analyze art, architecture, and artifacts as vital sources of historical evidence. Because of this aspect of the discipline, many history courses take place in Glencairn Museum, located on campus, and make use of its collections.
Bryn Athyn College's history students benefit from the longest-standing ongoing internship program in the college, the Education Intern program at Glencairn Museum. Off campus opportunities are also available for students who prefer their own tailor-made internship.
Glencairn Museum, a museum dedicated to the history of religion, provides the venue for The "Edtern" program. This internship program allows students to work with a world-class museum collection, giving tours, creating programs, and participating in and preparing for special events. Through their interactions with the public, Edterns learn skills in public presentation, project management, and professionalism. These experiences complement the program's emphasis on historical research—especially in the fields of medieval art and religious art, the museum's specialties.
Bryn Athyn College benefits from an exclusive partnership with Colonial Williamsburg. Each summer we send an undergraduate student to the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute, an intensive hands-on week that takes place in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. The program helps educators incorporate hands-on elements into their history lessons. Bryn Athyn is the only College in the nation that sends an undergraduate to study among graduate students and working professionals at the Teacher Institute.
Bryn Athyn students have also undertaken internships in exhibitry and collections management at Glencairn Museum, historical preservation and research at Cairnwood Estate, and in the Academy of the New Church Archives.
Bryn Athyn students also often pursue internships off-campus, including internships in historic education at two local historic houses, Grumblethorpe and Pottsgrove Manor.
At Bryn Athyn, along with your professors, you'll investigate social, political, economic, intellectual, and religious facets of human history. We believe that studying a society's religious climate and its relationship with other aspects of life is important for a deeper understanding of human existence.
Dr. Wendy Closterman
Associate Professor of History and Greek
BA Bryn Athyn College
PhD Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Closterman teaches ancient history and biblical Greek and is the head of the history program. Her research focuses on the funerary practices, religion, and social history of ancient Greece. In her teaching, she explores what archaeology as well as textual evidence reveals about the ancient world. Dr. Closterman has led groups of Bryn Athyn students and faculty on summer tours of Greece and Italy.