The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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Message from Chairman

Welcome all the freshmen to the Department of History. I am sure you feel the excitement to face a new chapter of your life, particularly a new mode of learning environment. After the Academic Counselling, hopefully you are getting acquainted with each other, understanding university’s tradition and the curriculum structure of the History courses. If you still have uncertainties in your study plan, you can consult your academic advisor for the challenges ahead.

Why do you choose history as your major? Many people in Hong Kong society think that History is not a practical major. Practical majors lead to so called “successful jobs” while impractical majors don’t. Who cares about Stone Age, who cares how Ancient China transformed to Medieval China? Even not many people know Sima Qian and Ban Gu, not to mention Herodotus and Thucycdides. Also many people think history is worthless, not relevant to them. But as a history student, you will witness that the study and training of history “make us wiser in our public choices and more richly human in our private lives.” (William H. McNeill, “Why Study History?” quoted from the website of American Historical Association, Peter N. Stearns advocates that history serves our laboratory, no matter how imperfect evidence is, it helps us understand people and societies. “The past causes the present, and so the future.” “Only through studying history can we grasp how things change; only through history can we begin to comprehend the factors that cause change; and only through history can we understand what elements of an institution or a society persist despite change.” (Peter N. Stearns, “Why Study History?” quoted from I hope the above quotations will give confidence to your study of history major.

Professor LAI Ming Chiu
Department Chairman