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History is the study of the past. Students of history have the opportunity to study the past from any imaginable perspective and any dimension of human interactions. There is no major more diverse yet more creatively individualistic than history.
Historical study is also fun. What a joy it is to read ordinary people's diaries or other “exclusively eyes only” top-secret documents to fully understand why certain events and certain life trajectories took place! What pleasure and excitement one receives when one discovers a previously unknown past for the first time!
Historical study also makes one wise. It enables us to benefit from the past experiences of not only individuals and nations, but also of mankind as a whole. The discipline of history helps one understand how human societies have developed in certain ways and why. Through studying history, we might be able to reach the level what the grand historian Sima Qian called “究天人之際，通古今之變，成一家之言” or roughly put, by investigating patterns of the nature and human society and understanding the changes of both ancient times and present, we will reach our own original and unique appreciations of the past.
Historical study can also make one a better person. A famous ancient Chinese statesman argued that "夫君子之行：靜以修身，儉以養德﹔非淡泊無以明志，非寧靜無以致遠" (“One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the moral values. Seeking fame and wealth will not lead to noble ideal. Only by seeking serenity will one reach far”). A history major works towards these goals by learning lessons and seeking inspirations from the past.
The study of history also provides a foundation for success in many future careers. With a heavy emphasis upon critical thinking, reading, analyzing, and writing skills, undertaking a major in history is ideal preparation for careers such as in business, politics, law, civil service, foreign services, and higher education. No matter what is your chosen career, following historical study and reading history will also provide a lifetime of pleasure and joy.
The History Major at HKU is a carefully designed program to give you a broad general knowledge of history with necessary skills of historical analysis, writing and research. It makes great sense to major in history at the University of Hong Kong, a city where East and West meet and where past, present, and future are interlinked closer than anywhere else in the world. Seize the moment, and start the journey now by majoring in history at the Department of History, the University of Hong Kong! You will be glad you joined our department.
Professor Xu Guoqi
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