History honors society to host conference

Many departments at Oakland University have honor societies geared toward students to help them connect with others and host different events to connect with other colleges and universities. Phi Alpha Theta is the history honor society at OU.

According to its website, Phi Alpha Theta is an international honor society for undergraduate students, graduate students and history professors. The society has over 350,000 members with approximately 9.5 new members joining each year through 860 local chapters.

OU’s society volunteered to host this year’s undergraduate conference on April 2. 

“The Michigan Regional Conference provides an opportunity for history students to present their original research in a professional setting,” Daniel Clark said, associate history professor and Phi Alpha Theta advisor.

According to Clark, there will be 44 presenters, mostly undergraduate and a few graduate students, from a dozen schools across Michigan. Faculty judges will comment on the research papers, which were distributed in advance, and on the oral presentations at the conference. 

“The undergraduate conference is a conference which features undergraduate history students who have the opportunity to participate in student panels and present papers, which all have a related theme or chronological relation,” Adam Derington, president and senior, studying history and political science, said.

A record 20 students from OU will be presenting their research this year, and according to Clark, OU’s chapter consistently leads the state in regional conference participation.

There will also be different panels of students. Attendees can walk around and listen to the different discussions.

Anyone can attend the conference, but lunch will be provided for those who registered ahead of time. 

“Joining an honor society always looks good on a resume … but Phi Alpha Theta at Oakland also provides an opportunity to create a community of friends and scholars on what remains a predominantly commuter campus,” Clark said. “Phi Alpha Theta students provide support and academic advice for each other, and they often make strong friendships with people they might not have met any other way.”

According to the Department of History website, the mission of Phi Alpha Theta is to promote the study of history through the encouragement of research, teaching, publication, the exchange of ideas and by bringing students, teachers and writers of history together.  

“The goal of Phi Alpha Theta is to connect students and professors in a way they don’t get to inside of classes,” Derington said.

History majors are eligible for membership in the OU chapter and students are selected for membership on the basis of academic achievement.   Requirements for an undergraduate student are completion of 12 credit hours of history at OU, a 3.3 GPA for OU history courses and a 3.1 overall GPA.

Requirements for a graduate student are completion of 12 credit hours toward a master’s degree and a 3.5 GPA.

The National Phi Alpha Theta Society sponsors benefits for members such as biennial conventions for undergraduate and graduate students and faculty members, and members at all levels are welcome to present papers.

Phi Alpha Theta also sponsors special programs at the annual conferences of major historical organizations, such as the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians.  

According to Clark, OU’s chapter is very active, hosting events such as lectures, an annual careers in history panel, film nights, luncheons with faculty members and induction dinners.

For more information about Phi Alpha Theta, visit the Department of History’s website at oakland.edu/history.