History Major Pursuing Ph.D. in Scotland
June 12, 2018
Molly Miller recalls a professor once describing history as “detective work.” The 2012 graduate always knew she wanted to study history but didn’t really understand her passion for it until she came to Texas Lutheran University. With a master’s degree in architectural conservation from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland under her belt, Miller is currently working on her Ph.D.
At TLU, she experienced history courses that went beyond the memorization of names and dates. She knew right away she made the right choice.
“What I love most about history is also what makes it such a dynamic thing to study, and that is the fact that there are always new perspectives, interpretations, and sources to help us better understand our infinitely complex past,” Miller said. “Scotland’s religious history is quite long and dramatic, with multiple schisms and reunifications along the way, so there are now many more churches than there are congregations to fill them.
Currently, her research focuses on navigating heritage in community-led redundant church reuse projects in Scotland.
“It’s an investigation into why communities take on these, often daunting, projects and how they engage with and experience these historical spaces that have been adapted to new secular uses. Communities are rising to the challenge and taking on the responsibility of finding new uses for these buildings, many of which are centuries old.”
Molly and her husband John at the Isle of Skye off the coast of Western Scotland.
The confidence to pursue a graduate degree stems from her time at TLU, especially the experiences she had with research methods, social science concepts and theories, and academic writing.
“One of the great things about history is that there’s bound to be something of interest for everyone, but you won’t know until you start exploring,” she said. “I encourage everyone to take at least a few history courses. There’s also the benefit of learning to ‘think historically’, which is basically the process of critically approaching different sources and perspectives to understand their context and significance before drawing conclusions. I have at least another two years ahead of me, and I’m excited to see how my research evolves.”
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