Professor's class shows history through women's eyes

Tue, 2011-01-11 08:05 -- univcomm
January 11, 2011

Anderson University offers a wide variety of history classes that fulfill liberal arts and major requirements. Since its creation in 2001, Dr. Jaye Rogers’ Women in the World class has been a popular option. Each year, more than 100 students enroll in the class, which is offered every summer and nearly every semester.

“This is, hands down, my favorite class to teach,” said Rogers, assistant professor of history at AU. “There isn’t a single topic in class that I don’t enjoy.” Rogers emphasizes in class that half of those who shaped the world today are women, and they have important lessons to teach us.

jaye-rogersRogers said many students do not know much about this particular area of history. “Women’s history is less visible unless you look closely,” she said. “For example, women didn't sign the Declaration of Independence, but they were just as much a part of the American Revolution as the men. If the American colonists chose to boycott tea and British-made products, who do you think had to come up with the substitutes? Women.”

Students mirror Rogers’ enthusiasm for the class. “Beyond taking the class out of interest, I have learned to look at history from a different perspective,” said senior social work major Amanda Gilliam. “It has challenged my thinking and the way I look at history.”

[Photo: Dr. Jaye Rogers assists senior Frank Ebels with preparation for an assignment to interview a woman over the age of 60.]

Rebekah Shirar, a senior communication arts major, said the class was instrumental in her decision to pursue a history minor. “I have always enjoyed history and seem to soak in the information easier than in other classes,” Shirar said. “This class, in particular, was the extra encouragement to officially declare my history minor. I thoroughly enjoy the lectures, assignments, and discussion.”

Both Gilliam and Shirar mentioned their favorite assignment in the class was a written biography of a woman over the age of 60. The biography is an assignment that Rogers always implements.

“I love reading the biographies, which average to be approximately 100 student biographies a year, meaning my students have interviewed 1,000 women: their grandmothers, women in their church, even some of the professors and administrators of AU,” Rogers said. “Those are a lot of stories that might not otherwise be heard. I have had students who found out that their grandmother dated James Dean in high school or had an aunt that worked for the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression."

“I hope students walk away from all history classes seeing their connection to the past, understanding that they are a product of what has occurred before them, and that they in turn will have an impact on the generations that will follow them,” said Rogers.

— Joseph Matas is a senior from Anderson, Ind., majoring in communication arts and minoring in marketing. Matas is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.