Welcome to the WCI History & Social Sciences Department. Click on the menus to the right to find your teachers, learn about extra-curricular activities associated with the department, explore field trip opportunities and course information!

What is Past is Prologue

We live in a time of constant change, an age where technology has utterly transformed global economics, politics and social affairs. Yet, in spite of these changes, eternal questions are still asked by human beings:

Who am I? What are the limits and possibilities of my humanity?
Why is there something instead of nothing? Why is what is the
way it is and not otherwise? What are death, god and freedom?
What are the immense spaces above us? What is the meaning of all those generations and cultures that precede us an of which only fragments remain?[1]

The History Department at Waterloo Collegiate aims to offer students an educational environment where they may explore these and other questions and where they will be outfitted with the skills and knowledge to continue the pursuit of these questions at the post-secondary level. Moreover, even for those students who do not go on to study history later in life, a good background in history allows students to be better prepared in terms of writing, analytical skills and knowledge for the many changes we face in our time. As Philosopher Mark Kingwell has recently noted,

Liberal education is about citizenship, not job training or simple personal enrichment – though it may incidentally provide both. Post-secondary institutions should be in the business, primarily, of creating critical, engaged citizens…. Liberal education is a conversation, not a data-transfer that might be accomplished as well on line. That conversation starts in a room, with other people.[2]

In the end, Socrates was right: The unexamined life is not worth living. What is past truly is prologue.

How Useful is Studying History?

Very useful! On the surface, some may conclude that success in life in the modern age is made possible only through the study of what are deemed the practical subjects. While there can be little argument about the utility of such disciplines, the liberal arts too offer students myriad opportunities. As Professor W.R. Newell has noted,

As we enter the twenty first century, our world is riven with contradictions – between our economic prosperity and our search for a spiritual purpose, between our assertion of limitless personal freedom and our craving for community. [The liberal arts] can provide us with some moral and spiritual ballast in the stormy seas of the coming century, our need for them is perhaps even greater today than in previous eras.[3]

Moreover, Canada’s high-tech corporations have publicly declared the importance they place on employees who bring to their tables well-rounded, liberal arts educations:

Yes this country needs more technology graduates. But it is
impossible to operate an effective corporation in our new economy by employing technology graduates alone. We have an equally strong need for those with a broader background who can work in tandem with technical specialists.

A liberal arts and science education nurtures skills and talents
increasingly valued by modern corporations. To prosper we need creative thinkers at all levels. They must be able to communicate to reason, create, write and speak for shared purposes: For hiring, training, managing, marketing and policy-making. In short, they provide leadership.[4]

A recent article in the New York Times has even made a convincing case for the importance of the humanities in medical school education: Medical School Needs a Dose of the Humanities

Careers in the Humanities

Many students pursuing a liberal arts education end up in the fields of education, journalism and law. However, there are many other exciting opportunities available to them:






Community Relations Director

Consumer Advocate



CSIS Agent




Foreign News Correspondent

Foreign Service Officer


Government Official


Historic Preservationist

Historic Site Tour Guide

Historical Society Staff


Insurance Agent / Broker

Intelligence Analyst

International Relations




Legal Assistant / Paralegal



Market Research Analyst

Media Consultant

Museum Curator

Museum Tech. & Specialist

Parliamentary Aide

Park Ranger

Peace Corps / Vista Worker

Policy Analyst

Political Scientist


Public Relations Specialist

Research Assistant


Teacher, Social Studies

Technical Writer

Travel Agent

Urban Administrator

Urban Planner

Writer / Author

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