A War to End All Wars

Ruth A. Miller '97 PhD,

Image courtesy of Ruth Miller '97

Ruth A. Miller '97 PhD, Professor of History

Major: History, Minor in Mathematics

Advanced Degrees: MA, PhD in Near Eastern Studies, Princeton

Awards: Clio Melpomene Prize

Employer: University of Massachusetts Boston

You never know where a history research seminar will lead you. RuthMiller (‘97) found this out when she enrolled for two research seminars in her sophomore year, one on the 1918 Paris Peace Conference and another on World War I in the Middle East.

“It was the mid-1990s,” she recalls, “and both Iraq and Bosnia were recovering from recent wars. The seminars were lively, to say the least, and I remember being in awe of my professors’ ability to encourage conversation that remained thoughtful, intelligent, and engaged, despite the deeply felt politics that permeated the room.”

Inspired by these experiences, Miller graduated from Mount Holyoke and went on to complete a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. She now teaches at the University of Massachusetts Boston and recently had the opportunity to teach her own seminar on World War I in the Middle East. She immediately reached for her old Mount Holyoke course syllabuses (don’t throw them out!) for inspiration.

"It’s difficult to overstate how grateful I am,” she concludes, “for the scholarly training that I received as a Mount Holyoke History major: twenty years ago, the History Department prepared me for an academic career, and I continue to make use of the lessons that I learned from MHC’s history faculty today.” 

Research seminars are as important to the history curriculum today as they were then, providing students with deeper understanding of particular topics and training them in advanced skills for research, analysis and writing.