HC’s Dr. Tom Bergler heads new EXCEL course

Class to study American History through controversial issues

Huntington, Ind.—This fall, Huntington College’s Dr. Tom Bergler is offering a new course in American History designed especially for adults. The class is among the first Gateway courses provided by HC’s EXCEL program.

“I hope this course will help train well-informed citizens who can look honestly at our nation’s past and distinguish between the good and the bad in what they find there,” said Bergler, HC’s Assistant Professor of Educational Ministries and Associate Director of the Link Institute for Faithful and Effective Youth Ministry. “Such discernment can help us chart the best course together for the future.”

The course approaches the study of American History through the use of controversial issues. Students will learn how the history of the United States influences the political, social, religious, and economic debates of today. Each workshop will be organized around a major historical controversy:
1.) Could Columbus Be Convicted of Crimes Against Humanity?
2.) What Kind of Country Did the Founding Fathers Want? (And Who Cares Anyway?)
3.) How Could a Free Country Allow Slavery?
4.) Was the United States Ever a Christian Nation?
5.) Was America the Land of Opportunity, or the Land of Greed and Oppression?
6.) The Civil War Has Been Over a Long Time, So Why are We Still Crying?

“People are describing this as an historic time in America, and they are right to do so,” said Bergler, who earned his PhD in American History with a specialization in American Religious History from Notre Dame University in January 2001. “Everyone is discussing how we as a nation should respond to the recent tragedies. In times of controversy and uncertainty, we can gain much needed perspective from learning about how people in the past dealt with similar trying times. The debates about how to tell the story of our past become a mirror in which we can better see who we are today. And by seeing who we are, we have a better capability to choose who we want to become as a nation.”

The course creates a unique Core and elective four-credit course for the EXCEL Program and is open to the community-at-large for non-credit. If history is an area of interest that one wishes to expand upon, Huntington College’s EXCEL Program offers that opportunity through this course.

“This creates an opportunity for community members, with or without college degrees, to take a course from one of HC’s finest professors,” said Kathleen O’Donnell, Director of the EXCEL Programs for Adult Professionals. “It is a highly creative way to teach American History and show how the Christian faith and study of American History intersect at many points.”

“This course is a great opening for continuing education at Huntington College,” continued O’Donnell. “We hope to draw in students from the region and special interest groups.”

Huntington College promotes integration of faith and learning and this American History course encourages the knowledge that 1) it is impossible to fully understand the history of the United States without considering the influence of Christians and Christianity, 2) Christian beliefs can help us evaluate historical interpretations and their connections to contemporary political and social agendas, and 3) the study of history can help us avoid worshipping the United States of America.

For more information on the EXCEL program, visit www.huntington.edu/excel or contact Kathleen O’Donnell by phone at (260) 359-4161 or by e-mail at kodonnell@huntington.edu.

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