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HIST 1025 American History since 1865

Instructor Contact:

Douglas Sheflin


Instructor Bio:

I graduated with my PhD in American history from the University of Colorado at Boulder.  My research focuses on the American West and American environmental history, but I use this course to offer a compelling narrative about some of the lesser known aspects of American history more generally.  I am certain that many of you are familiar with some of the more noteworthy people, places, and events in the nation’s past, but I hope that this course can offer new perspectives about the past and how the past informs the present.

About the Course:

This course will address the social, political, cultural, and economic changes in America from the Civil War through the present. The course will consider prominent people, issues, events, and debates that have transformed American society, informed national identity, and propelled it to become a world power. While attention will be paid to well known individuals and events, we will also look to more obscure forces which have influenced American history. Such an extensive scope will provide a more complete sense of how the United States has changed over the last 150 years and how its history is relevant to contemporary life. The readings, writings, and discussions are meant to sharpen your ability to: think, read, and write critically; analyze and evaluate data to form opinions; engage in discussion and debate; and understand modern America.

We will focus on several Key Themes, including:

  • Wars change things in dramatic ways
  • The relationship between liberalism and conservatism defines modern American political history
  • The idea of “America”—what it means, the nature of citizenship, and who belongs—is constantly debated

This course will closely resemble the on-campus course but it will capitalize on the ways that online courses can facilitate students’ participation and discussion. While the course will incorporate lectures, PowerPoints, and videos that cover important people, issues, and events, much of our focus will be on the primary documents. Those documents provide a unique view into the time period and offer perspective on some of the most influential debates in American history, so reading them critically will allow us to better understand the nation’s history. The documents will also foster our frequent discussions about course content. We will consistently engage in threaded discussions, in part so that I can be certain that you are reading and understanding the material and in part because such discussions give the entire class an opportunity to raise questions, offer comments, and enter debates about the past. These discussions afford students a chance to demonstrate what they have learned and how they have assessed the material while they also promote interaction with other students as well as the instructor. They can build a sense of community and enrich our enjoyment of the course. They are also an important part of your final grade so please approach them as a vital part of this class.

Course Objectives:

  • Recognize that the study of history is more than memorizing names and dates
  • Identify the importance of context and contingency to understanding history
  • Employ critical thinking and critical reading in approaching course content
  • Relate people and events to the “Key Themes” and understand that relationship
  • Assess contemporary issues and debates by appreciating their historical roots

Required Texts:

These books are available through the CU Book Store and also through alternative websites and vendors. Feel free to purchase them however you chose but be sure to have the correct edition and version. Also, copies of the textbook and reader will be on reserve at Norlin Library, though you should not always plan on those copies being available if you wait until the last minute to do the assigned reading.

  • James L. Roark, et al., The American Promise: A Concise History, Volume II: From 1865 (Boston, 2014)
  • Michael P. Johnson, ed., Reading the American Past, Fifth Edition, Volume II: From 1865 (Boston, 2012)
  • Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi (2004)

Grade Breakdown:

  • Three Exams: 45% (15% each)
  • Four Papers: 10% (2.5% each)
  • Six Discussions: 10%
  • Moody Paper: 20%
  • Final Exam: 15%

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Monday – Friday
7:30am to 4:30pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado