The History department at the Erasmus University celebrated their 40th anniversary last Friday, November 9th. A huge festivity, as it was quite a challenge in the 70’s to establish this study.
Maria Grever, head of the History department spoke with Erasmus Magazine about the establishment and existence of the programme. In there, she mentioned that while History is not the biggest nor the most well-known programme at the university, they are still very vital. Every year about a hundred first year students start with their bachelor’s and 45 students with their master’s.
While Erasmus University has already existed for 105 years, History is ‘only’ 40 years old. This is due to the fact that the EUR was a school of economics for the first 50 years of its existence. In order to be able to call itself a university, the school had to establish a Philosophy degree as well as a Faculty of Humanities. The Social History degree was supposed to come under the newly-to-be-established Faculty of Humanities, only this faculty never materialized. In 1976 the then Rector, B Leijnse, started lobbying for a History department again. This time with more result as two years later the Minister for Education authorized the establishment of the new History department.
In honor of the 40th anniversary an illustrated book History@Erasmus was created. One of the questions that was key to the creation of the book was whether there still was something typically Rotterdams to the programme? “Several pillars of the early incarnations of the programme can still be detected in the current curriculum, such as the importance of methodology and a refusal to focus only on the history of the Western world,” the authors wrote in the book. “Admittedly, the emphasis is still on the use of proper methods and taking a business-like, less story-like approach,” Grever adds. “Ours is the only History degree in the country that comes with a compulsory Statistics course.”
Last Friday the department celebrated its 40th birthday with a convention. Ironically, they did not want to look back too much on the history of the programme. Instead, there was a lot of space for the young researchers as well. As they are, ultimately, the future.