Kate Bjork Faculty Profile

Katharine Bjork

Professor - History; Department Chair
Work space: St. Paul Main Campus > Giddens/Alumni Learning Center > Giddens/Alumni Learning Center GLC 237W

Kate Bjork joined the Hamline faculty in 2002. She teaches courses in Latin American history as well as courses about empires, borders, environmental history, and the history of disease. Her recent book, Prairie Imperialists: the Indian Country Origins of American Empire, examines continuities in the expansion of the United States as an empire from continental North America to the overseas territories that came under U.S. influence following the Spanish-Cuban-American War. Professor Bjork earned her AB from the University of California at Berkeley in English Literature and her MA and PhD in Latin American History from the University of Chicago.

How do we know what we think we know about the past? Why are popular conceptions of history sometimes difficult to reconcile with the "facts"? (What is a historical fact anyway?) These are some of the questions that guide inquiry in Kate Bjork's classes. Recognizing, critiquing and making historical arguments is also an important part of classroom learning. To help students develop their critical thinking skills in historical argumentation Professor Bjork often builds courses and themes around student-led debates.

"The past can--can and should--surprise us. At its best history is about challenging the commonsense assumptions of retrospective reasoning so prevalent in the stories we tell ourselves about what happened, why, and what it means."

- Kate Bjork