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Professor Robert Pascoe
History Major and Minor
Professor Robert Pascoe
My name is Rob Pascoe. I am a professor of history here at Victoria University. I teach history, I research history, I write about history - to both undergraduate students and also for postgrad students.
I chose history because I grew up in Richmond, here in Melbourne, living above a shop in Bridge Road at a time when Richmond was going through a profound change. So I became curious to know about the past - about where we come from and also where do other people come from. Where do these Greeks come from and of course later in Richmond, where do the Vietnamese come from. The movement of people through Melbourne is a big story. It is part of a much larger question about how it is that human societies change over time.
I think history gives us a real key to knowing where we are in the modern world and where we might be going. Yeah so we're concerned about climate change, we're concerned about refugees, we're concerned about all these issues which are not new issues at all - they really all have a history behind them.
The history major for undergraduate students is a series of subjects which deal with different topics, so you've got, for example, a topic of Irish history, because they are actually very important in Australian life. The Irish make up one of our biggest minorities. That's taught by Associate Professor Diane Hall, who's the head of the history program here at Victoria University.
There's also courses in European history. We want to know things like why, with the Nazis... Where did they come from? You know... Who are the Communists? Where did they come from? How do they change Europe? What is the future of Europe, basically, is implied in some of the subjects about European history.
We have courses on the Middle East because we know a lot of our students are from the Middle East.
We also have a course in world history which is a very broad course looking at the full sweep of history, from prehistoric times all the way through the Romans and the Greeks, and up to the Middle Ages and then finishing around the time of the Enlightenment.
We also have a course around walking tours. We take students for walks around the inner suburbs of Melbourne: Richmond, around Footscray, around Fitzroy, around South Melbourne ...and on those walks we can see the imprint of these waves of migration. We can also see some of the old older indigenous culture embedded in the stones and the streets of these suburbs.
In history students learn how to listen to other people, how to be respectful of indigenous cultures and people who are not their own.
They learn how to engage with other people, they learn - if you like - what we call cross-cultural communication. They learn how to understand other people.
Students walk away from a history major with the capacity to both analyse the past using the data but then more importantly in some ways to persuade their readers of an argument and that persuasion is very important. Because if you are going to make your way in the world and you have a point of view about something, you've actually got to learn the methods of persuasion, which are basically around good communication and about skilful use of language, about using the right adjectives, about understanding how language influences other people. And if you can get those skills you can actually then make your way into all kinds of areas of life where it's your job to persuade other people that your way of thinking about how we should do something is the best way. So we would hope that our students would come out of our subjects and maybe do other subjects with our indigenous scholars and other people around the campus and actually put together a kind of a much more complete understanding of how we came to be where we are today in Australia and where we might go in the future. History is also a very forward-looking discipline.