College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

history lecture series

Phi Alpha Theta & Department of History Lecture Series

OVERVIEW

Phi Alpha Theta and the Department of History cosponsor an annual lecture series, leading with the Carl L. Becker Lecture.

A Tribute to Carl L. Becker


The lecture has been named in honor of a man who was, perhaps, the most distinguished scholar and teacher to emerge from Iowa. Carl L. Becker, born near Reinbeck, received his Ph.D. in 1907, from the University of Wisconsin.  From 1902-1941 he taught at various universities in the Midwest and East, the last being Cornell University in New York.


It was as a progressive thinker that Becker became an internationally-recognized figure.  He believed that the historian writes in the present, always with one eye on the past and the other on the future.  History then can be used to improve human relations.  This type of thinking gave history a purpose and was responsible for the still popular idea that historians, armed with knowledge of the past, can better respond to problems of the present.


Becker’s thoughts on mechanical power also are indicative of his progressive thinking.  He was concerned that humanity not become slave to weapons of mechanical power for fear we might, in the end, destroy ourselves.  Becker expressed these concerns in the decade before the atom bomb was dropped over Hiroshima.

Coming soon: details on our 47th Annual Becker Lecture..