Need an interesting class? One helpful suggestion

Megan Chrisler

Do you need a history class, but hate the same boring topics? Do you need an interesting global studies class to help keep your attention and your grade up? Are you starting to think about your future schedule and how you want to fit in a fun class? If you answered yes to any of these questions, look no further than Dr. Tim Kovalcik’s Hitler and the Third Reich history class.

It is just as interesting as it sounds. The class looks at the circumstances preceding Hitler’s rise to power, the cultural atmosphere of Germany at the time, the philosophy of the Nazis, Hitler’s personality and the consequences of what resulted. Students get to watch various World War II and Holocaust movies, including “Band of Brothers,” “Downfall” and several documentaries. It is reading and writing intensive, but the topic for the big research paper is all up to the student (as long as Kovalcik approves of it first). Required readings are not all the same dry material one usually gets in history class. Last semester, the class read “Let Me Go,” a novel about a woman trying to overcome her mother’s Nazism that resulted in her abandonment. Discussions are just as important as lectures, and in fact the whole class is centered on the questions like how was Adolf Hitler’s reign possible and what do we do with the reality of Hitler?

“That class has a long-running history,” Kovalcik said. It has been around since at least the 1970s, and Kovalcik himself had it as a student here at Millikin. He has been teaching it since 2005, being not only a specialist in European history and anti-Semitism but also a past resident of Vienna, as Hitler himself was.

“It’s overwhelmingly successful,” he added. Although the workload can get quite dense, student evaluations and ratings for the class are usually very high.

“I enjoyed it more than I expected to,” Jordan Pennington, one of the many students who took it last semester, said. “I would definitely recommend taking the class.”

Kovalcik also agreed. Courses such as these enhance a student’s ability to think critically and become more reflective; as he puts it, “All good history is a critical thinking exercise.”

As the teacher of the class, Kovalcik adds to the class significantly.

“I think what I appreciate most about him is that he has a huge knowledge base that he can pull from,” Pennington said. As all college students know, an enthusiastic teacher can make an already interesting subject just that more interesting.

Unfortunately, the class is only taught every other fall. However, for those who might not get the chance to take the class in the future, there is a Holocaust trip going on from May 21-June 3.  Kovalcik will take students to Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Austria, stopping at various Holocaust-related memorials. While visiting, students can take either a HI 320 or IN 350 class. It costs around $4,500 to go; students should contact Kovalcik by Feb. 15 if interested.