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Alum finds overseas graduate work ‘liberating’
Christopher Sutton describes advantages of history & political-science degree program at Huntington University, a Christian college.

“My advice would be this: Vary your education — both formal and informal.”

It was the religious aspect of the school that drew Christopher Sutton in, but it was history department that drew out his passion.

Sutton graduated from Huntington University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in history. Following graduation, he left the States to study at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom. Today, he has earned his master’s degree and is pursuing a PhD.

“I have been engulfed in the world of the PhD,” said Sutton, who is in the second year of his degree. “My first year was dedicated to, as one professor puts it, ‘gutting’ the UK National Archives in London.”

Sutton has also presented papers at conferences, written for an e-journal and has been given an associate tutor position at the university where he is teaching an undergraduate seminar — on top of working on his own thesis.

Sutton first became intrigued with history from his high school teacher. It is her who he now credits, or tongue and cheek “blames,” for his love of history.

“I owe my interest in history to my high school history teacher, Mrs. Leslie Clark. She was, and still is, enviously knowledgeable, well-travelled and very passionate about history and teaching, on top of being the most kind-hearted and genuine person I know. It was rather infectious,” he said.

Upon arriving at HU, Dr. Tim Smith, associate professor of history who also taught at UEA, gave Sutton a new level of interest in the subject and shared with him his own passion for the United Kingdom and its place in the world.

“His class, America and Vietnam, introduced me to modern history and to the English style of education. I subsequently did a dissertation with Tim during my senior year which put me on a path towards my current subject: The interplay between the British Empire and the Cold War,” Sutton said.

Sutton calls his time in the UK “liberating.” As he describes, it has challenged him on personal and professional levels, but in all, has shaped him for the better. As he says, it’s this type of experience that all history majors at HU should have.

“My advice would be this: Vary your education — both formal and informal,” he said. “If you are at HU, soak up the liberal arts and then take your postgraduate studies out of the Midwest. Go to the East Coast or overseas. Experience and appreciate other cultures and not just the ones you study.”

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