Pacific Northwest History

This fall, students have the opportunity to take a history class that focuses on matters close to home. HIST214, History of the Pacific Northwest will be taught by Brian Casserly, Ph.d. Casserly has a long history with this class, studying the subject and teaching equivalent classes for about 10 years, “I started teaching it at the university of Washington while I was a graduate student, I’ve fought it extensively at north Seattle community college and at high line community college and this will be second time that I’ve taught it here at Bellevue College,” stated Casserly. The class used to be taught as a distance course, but for the second time is being offered in person. The first time it was offered this way was fall of 2013 and was quite successful with full enrollment.
The class will cover several hundred years of history of the region: “[The] first several classes of the quarter will start by looking at the period before the arrival of Europeans, and we look at some of the major features of Native American cultures in the region. We then very quickly turn to the arrival of Europeans in the region, the first European explorers arrive beginning in the 1770s and over the course of the rest of the 1700s and then also the beginning of the arrival of European and white American fur faders is also something that we’ll also be looking at very extensively. So really, we’re starting to look at the region’s history from the 1700s all the way down to pretty much very recent times,” said Casserly.
The class will not just focus on reading one textbook and lecture, one of Casserly’s major objectives with all his history classes is “to try to help students improve their skills in critical thinking”. To this end, students will be examining “a wide range of various primary sources of evidence. Memoirs, letters, reports from various people who have lived in the region over the course of the last couple hundred years. We’ll be looking at those, trying to evaluate whether they’re reliable sources of information. We’ll be reading the interpretations of various historians and other scholars about the region’s history and try to evaluate whether those interpretations are valid or not.”
The major unique feature of the class is its focus on a region all students are familiar with. “We will of course be talking about for ideas and places and issues that for a lot of students, they have some familiarity with, so we’ll be talking about the development of Seattle, we’ll be talking about corporations like Boeing which are a major part of pacific northwest history, and a lot of people have vague familiarity with those types of issues in a way that they might not necessarily do in a world history class where we might be talking about some place on the complete other side of the world, so that basic familiarity does help engage students who might be interested in the historical background of the region which they’ve lived in which many of them have grown up in.”