Swarthmore's History Department gives students the intellectual and analytical skills to think critically about the past and the contemporary world. History encourages us to have respect for other cultures and peoples. History is a method of analysis that focuses on the contexts in which people have lived, worked, and died. Historians seek to go beyond their descriptive abilities and to wrestle with the essential questions of "how" and "why" change occurs over time. They interpret the past and are in constant dialogue with what other historians have written about it. For example, although there may be agreement that Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933, historians have and will continue to debate the origins of Nazism, the rise of Hitler to power, and the causes of World War II and the Holocaust. Historical scholarship enables us to not only know what occurred in the past but also to understand the thoughts and actions of people living in other times and places, allowing us to uncover the continuities and disruptions of patterns that characterized life before our time.