04 | An Historian Takes a Broad View of College Education
When students ask William Haddad, chair of the History Department, why they should study history, he replies: “I tell them that the purpose of a college education is not to learn a vocation but to teach ‘transferable skills’: the ability to read critically, to write, to be able to think and synthesize. History gives one those skills. It will make you an informed citizen, something critical to a democracy, and allow you to hold any job that requires thinking, reading and writing.”
Haddad has written three books that deal with countries in the Middle East over the past 150 years. The most recent, Iraq: The Human Cost of History, deals with the impact of sanctions supported by the United States and the United Kingdom between 1991 and 2003.
“The original aim of the sanctions was to force Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait,” Haddad explains. “Though this was accomplished quickly through war, the sanctions
continued for another 12 years. As a result, several hundred thousand Iraqis died from poor hygiene, lack of medical care and malnutrition. The book asks the question, ‘Did the sanctions achieve their purpose and were they worthwhile?’”
He finds teaching at Fullerton especially rewarding. “The best thing about teaching here is knowing that you are making a difference. We have thousands of students who are the first in their family to attend college. We have thousands more who are pursuing the American dream: their parents are immigrants, they do not speak English at home, but they all know that an education is key to advancing in American society.”