Jian Zhang (MA in Comparative History, CEU 2015, currently a first-year PhD student in International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University).
While I started my two-year training in Comparative History at CEU with uncertainty because of my academic background in Human Geography, the thoughtful structure of the Master’s program, open intellectual atmosphere of the Department of History, and global community of CEU soon cleared away my doubts. One particular quality that I value about the program is its ability to challenge parochialism in historical studies. In addition to encouraging faculty and students to look beyond disciplinary boundaries, the program cautions students not to adhere to established parochial interpretations of problematiques that are shared by many cultures and regions but are taken as univocal historical responses of only one or a few. To me, the Department of History at CEU engages in historical research with a critical spirit, global awareness, and respect for cultural diversity, and it demonstrates its strengths through interdisciplinary and comparative studies. In fact, my current research on towns and cities that emerged during the “medieval commercial revolutions” of China and Europe at ASU has been significantly enhanced by the department’s dedication to interdisciplinary and comparative research. Housed within a small, community based university in the vibrant city of Budapest, the Department of History continues to be a superb place for students to pursue interdisciplinary studies, go beyond the limits of conventional historical inquiry, and prepare for future challenges in academic careers.