Civic Engagement Through US History Minor

Civic Engagement through U.S. History Certificate and Minor


In response to the CU Regents US Civics Initiative, calling for proposals to encourage “the specific study of the United States governmental system, its history, founding documents, the evolution of the understanding of these documents over time, and the nature of, and challenges to, our liberal democracy,” the History Department is now offering both a Certificate and a Minor in the history of American civic formation. Civic education is typically defined as the study of the theoretical, political, historical, and practical aspects of citizenship and the institutions of democratic governance. Civics often centers on the rights and responsibilities of members of society in relation to laws and government.

Providing a Unique Opportunity

This program provides a unique opportunity to work particularly on themes related to the rise and development of the American nation, as well as challenges, conflicts, and controversies within that history. Students seeking to teach in primary and secondary schools, to move on to graduate school in the Humanities, to enter law school, or simply to be deeply informed citizens with a thorough background in American history will be especially well served by this program.

The study of History is acknowledged as a useful way to educate students about the changing aspects of citizenship in relation to institutions, civil laws, and practices from local to global perspectives. Recent practices in civic education in many countries highlight aspects of social difference and marginalized members of society as well as global connections and implications.

Contact for the Program

Students interested in the Certificate or Minor in Civic Engagement through U.S. History should contact the head of the program, Professor Paul Harvey, in the History Department at UCCS. The email is, and phone is 719 255 4078. Professor Harvey’s office is located in Columbine Hall 2055.

Certificate (12 credits) and Minor (18 credits): Civic Engagement through U.S. History

The proposed certificate program (12 hours) and Minor (18 hours) requires students to demonstrate sustained engagement with the creation, formation, development, and amending of U.S citizenship and American institutions. Students would be expected to provide evidence of sustained engagement within at least four (for the Certificate) or six of the following (for the Minor) of the categories outlined below (to be judged via the required portfolio to be submitted by each student).

  • American Revolution
  • American Constitution
  • Debates over slavery
  • the major constitutional Amendments (the Bill of Rights, and Amendments 13 – 21)
  • major developments of American immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries
  • science and technology in American history 
  • civil rights movements
  • major social protest movements
  • the Civil War and Reconstruction
  • American participation in the world wars
  • major competing political philosophies and political parties; and the relationship of marginalized groups to the dominant state
  • history of U.S expansion west and overseas and rights of peoples in those lands
  • impact of civic institutions and laws on social identities like race, gender, religious identity, political affiliation, among others
  • laws, rights, and social practices around public versus private life and related spaces
  • changing civic and societal debates around rights, resources (including land), and immigration

Students could demonstrate this through taking the following courses and providing a portfolio of work (to be evaluated a committee of American historians at UCCS led by Professor Paul Harvey) at the end of their certificate or minor in order to demonstrate the required engagement.

Students also would have the option of taking an internship of 3 hours in which they would work in some sustained way with contemporary civic engagement (such as a political campaign; a non-profit political or social group; working in a local historical archive on materials of interest for U.S. civic history; and other examples). The History Department already has in place an Internship course that will fulfill this need.

At least two courses (for the Certificate) or more for the Minor (6 - 12 hours) from the American History surveys (see list below)

  • HIST 1510: U.S.: Birth of a Nation, 1607-1789
  • HIST 1520: U.S.: Expansion and Division, 1789-1877
  • HIST 1530: U.S.: Emergence of Modern America, 1865-1920
  • HIST 1540: U.S: Recent America, 1918-Present
  • HIST 1550: African American History: From Africa to the Present Day
  • HIST 1563: American Legal History
  • HIST 1560 Introduction to Environmental History of the U.S.
  • HIST 1563 American Legal History
  • HIST 1570 Introduction to Industrial America
  • HIST 1575 History of the American Southwest

Two or more courses (6- 12 hours) for the Certificate and Minor in any of the following upper-division American history courses that focus on issues related to the Civics minor:

  • Hist 3520: History of Latinos in the U.S.
  • Hist 3550: Religion and U.S. Culture 1500-2000
  • Hist 3580: Immigrant Histories
  • Hist 3680: Islam and the West
  • Hist 3700: Colonial America, 1607-1763
  • Hist 3710: Good Wives and Nasty Wenches: American Women’s History, 1607-1877
  • Hist 3720: From Slavery to Freedom: Slavery & the African American Experience in Colonial and Antebellum America
  • Hist 3740: African American Social and Political Thought
  • Hist 3750: Orphans, Paupers, and Other Vagabonds: Poor Relief in the U.S., 1607-1937
  • Hist 3760: Bombs, Bullets, and Brotherhood: History of American Labor
  • Hist 3770: A Strange Quiet: Epidemics in U.S. History, 1607-1920
  • Hist 3780: Welcome to the World’s Fair
  • Hist 3790: Body of Liberties: Law in American History, 1620-1920
  • Hist 3850 Historical Geography of the United States
  • Hist 3995: Undergraduate Internship in History
  • Hist 4500: World War Two: A Global History
  • Hist 4510 The American Revolution: The Forging of the Union, 1763-1789
  • Hist 4520 “The Last Great Necessity”: Cemeteries and Memory in American History
  • Hist 4530: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877
  • Hist 4540: Religion and American Culture, 1945 - Present
  • Hist 4570: War and Society: 20th Century U.S.
  • Hist 4580: The American West Hist 4690: Colorado History
  • Hist 4880: Civil Rights in American History

Contributing Faculty Members

Here is a partial list of major contributing faculty members to the Certificate and Minor program in Civic Engagement through U.S. History. In any given semester, there may be other faculty involved, particularly as new Lecturers become part of the History Department. Click Faculty & Staff for more information on any of the individual faculty listed below, including their background and their contact information at UCCS.

Paul Harvey

Distinguished Professor of History and head of the Civic Engagement through U.S. History program. Dr. Harvey received his Ph.D. from the University of California in 1992, has taught at UCCS since 1996, and is the author of thirteen books and numerous articles on various aspects of American history. He currently teaches or has taught most of the courses listed as meeting the requirements for the Certificate or Minor.

Evan Taparata

Evan Taparata, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 19th and 20th Century U.S. History.  

Barbara Headle

Senior Instructor Barbara Headle teaches a variety of courses in American history that qualify for the Civics Minor and Certificate. In addition to American History surveys, she teaches upper division courses Colonial and Early Republic America, the American West, historical geography of the United States, legal and environmental history, as well as welfare, epidemics, and World's Fair history, census and cemetery studies.

Sarah Clay

Sarah Clay received her M.A. from UCCS in 2012, and since has taught a wide variety of courses in American and Latin American history, including the U.S. History surveys, Immigrant History, African American History, and others.

Jared Benson

Jared Benson (M.A., UCCS) teaches a variety of introductory survey courses relevant to the Civic Engagement program. He hopes to foster agency in students to take more active roles in their education, in their lives, and in the world. He strives for discourse that challenges students to pursue deeper understanding of both their own narratives as well as others’.

Leah Davis-Witherow

Leah Davis Witherow is a public historian and museum curator that teaches a variety of courses including lower division American History surveys and upper division courses on Colorado, the American Southwest, the American West, Environmental History, Women’s History, Labor, Suffrage, World’s Fairs and the Progressive Era. She is also Curator of History at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.

Charles Dusch

Dr. Charles Dusch (Ph.D., West Virginia University) is Command Historian at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and also teaches courses in American military history at UCCS.

Robin Lynch

After receiving her M.A. degree from UCCS in 2014, Robin Lynch has taught courses related to modern American history and War and Society for the Department.

Susan Hanket Brandt

Dr. Brandt received her Ph.D. from Temple University, and is a specialist in early American history and the history of American medicine.

Carole Woodall

Biographical Information