History students will learn how to develop clear thinking about human events. The department’s courses are designed to teach about more than politics and wars, as students learn about the values and attitudes of humanity from the time of ancient Sumer, Egypt, and China to our present civilization.

Fast Facts


The history department has two endowed scholarships: the Walter C. Utt chair in history and the Bashir Hasso chair in Middle East Studies. These chairs make possible significant curriculum enrichment.


PUC's chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the history honors society, offers entrance based on scholarship. Students meet regularly to hear noteworthy speakers and discuss topics related to history. Scholarships are available through the society.


During summer quarter, one and two-week seminars enrich education opportunities.


The history department often hosts study tours over the summer.


A unique major in history, political studies, and ethics prepares students for careers from law to public policy and administration.


The Department of History also sponsors and runs Eventorum - PUC’s online journal of current events at eventorumpuc.org.

PUC History Major Wins International Essay Contest

One of the best parts of winning, she said, was hearing how proud her teachers were of her success.

Erika Weidemann

Senior history major Erika Weidemann grew up listening to her grandmother’s stories of her childhood as a German refugee in Europe.  During her junior year at PUC, Weidemann, a dedicated scholarship-hunter, ran across an essay contest sponsored by the Germans from Russia Heritage Society.  The winning essay would be printed in the society’s publication, and the author would receive a $1000 scholarship.  During Christmas break, Weidemann submitted an essay to the international contest.  While the academic paper included historical facts about the life of German refugees after World War II, it also became a way for Weidemann to share her grandmother’s experiences with the rest of the world.  Her essay snagged first place in the contest, to the delight of Weidemann, her peers, and her professors in the department of history.

Weidemann’s essay, formatted in the style of a journal, includes entries comprised of her grandmother’s experiences.  Although her grandmother didn’t keep a personal diary, Weidemann adapted the stories her grandmother told her into short entries.  Born in the Ukraine, Weidemann’s grandmother and her family were evacuated from their home when the German army retreated during World War II.  They were put on trains and sent to different resettlement camps around the continent.  The entries of Weidemann’s essay include both anecdotal narratives and facts about the emigration of the Germans from their family homes.

Weidemann believes one of the key factors in winning the contest was the human element of her essay.  Instead of a purely biographical publication, she was able to convey real-life stories of how her grandmother was affected by the war and relocation.  A child’s perspective of the evacuation upped the interest level of the essay.  “It was also the combination of historical accuracy with a creative writing element,” says Weidemann.

One of the more interesting things Weidemann discovered during her research was the resilience of the German culture in the Soviet Union.  Even though the German refugees were immersed in a completely different culture, they hung on to the majority of their traditions and culture.  In the midst of a foreign land, they were still Germans at heart; this was the setting in which Weidemann’s grandmother grew up.

Since winning the contest, Weidemann has been in contact with the editor of the Russia Heritage Society’s publication, the Heritage Review, in which her award-winning essay has appeared.  She admits that while she wasn’t really knowledgeable about the topic of Germans in Russia before starting this project, after winning the contest she was extremely well-versed in their history and heritage.  Weidemann plans to pursue this interest as she prepares her senior thesis and applies to graduate school.  The connections she has forged, especially at PUC, have already helped her along the way.  She gives credit to the department of history for preparing her to write this essay and giving her the tools to be successful in later education.  One of the best parts of winning, she said, was hearing how proud her teachers were of her success.  In her pursuit of a graduate degree, Weidemann states that this essay could be fodder for a later dissertation. “It’s been a lot more than just winning scholarship money,” she says.

Alumna Patricia Thio: Emmy Award Winner

“My passion is to bring awareness to overlooked social issues.”

Patricia Thio

When Pacific Union College alumna Patricia Thio began work on two particular documentary episodes for a TV program, she knew the stories were powerful—but she didn’t know the national and international recognition they’d bring.

But lights, cameras, and congratulations rewarded Thio at 2010’s Emmy Awards ceremony in San Diego, California. There, the Associate Director of PR Video Production at Loma Linda University won awards for two episodes she produced for the university’s documentary-style show, “Loma Linda 360º.” The episode “Armed for the Challenge” won in the documentary-cultural category, while “PossAbilities” was honored in the human-interest section.

Thio adds the “winged woman” to a collection of other honors for “Armed for the Challenge,” including Best of Show from the Public Relations Society of America, Inland chapter, and six international film festival awards. Under Thio’s direction, “Armed for the Challenge” tells the story of Willie Stewart, an athlete whose loss of an arm has not stopped his athletic ambitions: He is training for the physically challenged triathlon USA championships. In addition, he also directs the PossAbilities outreach program at Loma Linda University Medical Center East Campus. This program offers community and activities for individuals with permanent physical injuries. In Thio's episode about Willie, she explains, “we see him at home, at work… he told us his passions and the dirt on what it’s like having a disability. He’s an amazing person and became a wonderful friend of mine.”

“PossAbilities” gives voice to four PossAbilities program members as they discuss life before and after their injuries. Exploring ways to adapt, they find that that one thing has not changed: their commitment to achieve their goals, just in different ways. Thio says, “I remember laughing and crying with them, even staring at them in awe as I listened to how they have overcome. They are such an inspiration, and I feel so blessed to know each of them.”

What sets these two episodes apart from their competition? “I feel that the individuals featured in the films made these projects such a success,” Thio says. “I give them props for answering all my questions...some of which they have never been asked before. It’s never easy talking about the most traumatic experience in your life. No one wants to relive it. But in the end, they knew that these films could help someone else as well as bring awareness to disabilities.”

Emmy nominations and awards for these two episodes just verified their power and impact. The ceremony was also a significant event for Thio. “The night of the Emmys couldn’t have been more perfect,” she exclaims. Not only did her co-worker and friend, Maranatha Hay, also win an Emmy, but Thio fulfilled her wish for one of her best friends: Kent Allison, a co-director of “Armed for the Challenge." Allison was very sick when they flew to New York to film part of the episode, and Thio told herself, “I need to make this up to him somehow.” So later, Thio told Allison that she wanted them to win their first Emmys for the project. “When we actually did, it was the coolest feeling ever.”

Thio, who majored in history and journalism, hadn’t really considered working as a documentary filmmaker, even though she loved sharing in-depth stories. However, she discovered her love for the field after embarking on an mission trip to Albania with 16 LLU individuals—and a video camera.

Now, Thio has produced two seasons of “Loma Linda 360º” and is currently in production for a new show, “Life on the Line,” that will air in its place next year.

Thio describes the upcoming show as highlighting “the essence of LLU by telling stories of hope and transformation through individuals whose lives are on the line.”

 “My passion is to bring awareness to overlooked social issues,” says Thio. With the spotlight gleaming on her two golden awards, she, too, is accomplishing goals.

Educator of the Year Ileana Douglas

On May 27, 2010 at an all-school colloquy program at Pacific Union College, history professor Ileana Douglas was awarded the 2010-2011 Educator of the Year award. Known as the "best mother on campus," Douglas is widely appreciated both for her teaching enthusiasm and her personal interactions with students. "As a colleague you have enriched our department… and you have also opened your heart and home," said then-history chair Paul McGraw.

"Her morning devotionals give students the encouragement that we need to survive this crazy life.”

Douglas earned her B.A. from the University of Puerto Rico and master's degrees from New York University and the Center for Advanced Studies of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean and has completed further graduate studies at the University of Valladolid, Spain. She's been an elementary and middle school teacher, college professor, academic department chair, and academic dean and vice president.

Each speaker noted Douglas's teaching energy, passion, and positive outlook. "She's so positive it can even seem that sometimes there is only one answer in her classroom… Yes, or yes," said senior history major Jonathan Pichot. "I think the word 'yes' has something to do with the way she lives her life. Yes is a happy word, full of hope. It's an accepting word… An optimistic word."

Brittany Kohler, a history student and nursing graduate, thanked Douglas for her friendship, mentorship, and spiritual commitment. "Her morning devotionals give students the encouragement that we need to survive this crazy life," Kohler said. "You have been a great mentor, great spiritual friend."

The Educator of the Year award is voted in each year by students, who can vote for any current faculty member. "This is a gift from the student body to you," Kohler told Douglas. "It just shows what an amazing teacher you are and all that you have done for us."

History Students Visit Eastern Europe

Europe Students

Perched above the Danube River on a Hungarian bridge barely a week after spring quarter finals had concluded, 20 PUC history students were back in class. Their 10-day tour of Eastern Europe, coordinated by the PUC history department, spanned Budapest, Hungary; Slovakia; Krakow, Poland; and Prague, Czech Republic.

"This trip brought to life things that I had learned through my coursework,” says Hollie Macomber, history club president and president of the class of 2013. Led by history faculty Dr. Hilary Dickerson and Professor Ileana Douglas, and joined by biology professor Aimee Wyrick, this year’s tour focused on World War II in Europe and the Cold War era.

The tour is a graduation requirement for history majors, and past tours include Australia and New Zealand (2012), Japan (2010), and England and the U.S.’s East Coast (2008); the course includes a research paper, five book reviews, and a journal of the sites visited.  “The tour pursues the learning experience in historical locations and is an enrichment element to our academic curriculum,” says Douglas. During the 2013 spring quarter, students took two upper-division courses in Eastern European history, covering the causes and results of World War II, to prepare for their education abroad. Once there, the realities of war and the atrocities against humanity became evident.

Mornings began with breakfast and a guided tour of the city until lunch, followed by a site-specific tour. Afterward, participants set their own agenda, meeting over dinner in the evenings. Most travel details such as airfare, transportation, hotels, most meals and some tours were arranged by EF Educational Tours, a student travel company contracted for the trip. To keep costs low, the trip took place in summer, when tuition is half price; students could borrow textbooks from the history department’s library; and some scholarships were available through donations to the history department.

“Wait a minute, I’m in Europe!” was the reaction of many students as they strolled the city streets, says Douglas. After the day’s tours ended, the group members kept going, whether exploring the city, shopping, attending concerts, or eating gelato, an intensely flavored Italian ice cream popular throughout Europe.

“The people who were on the trip definitely made it memorable. This experience simply made me want to learn more."

The trip also offered many sobering lessons in the harsh effects of human cruelty. At Auschwitz, the infamous German concentration camp in Poland, the group stood beside piles of shoes discarded by Jews on their way to the gas chambers. On the streets of Budapest, many buildings ravaged in World War II remained unrestored, looking as if the war had ended only recently. Reconstruction can cost millions of dollars.  As they experienced being in these places firsthand, the realities of war touched each one of the participants in the tour.

“Students saw the ugly side of humanity—but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can act for good,” noted Douglas. For instance, students learned about Oskar Schindler’s factory in Krakow, where over 1,000 Jews were saved from the concentration camps through employment there, a story that offers hope long after the war’s end. In their journals, students reflected on how the trip has made them different, more aware and mature, as well as embracing of their degree, says Douglas.

Navigating strange streets, languages and currency in the “chauffeur-free environment,” as one individual put it, meant that students grew more self-sufficient over the 10 days. Yet their shared experiences — including the most heartbreaking — also drew the group together. “The people who were on the trip definitely made it memorable,” reflects Macomber. She adds, “This experience simply made me want to learn more."