Sterling College History Professor Chad Gaudet Earns Doctorate in History

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

After studying the British, French and German soldiers of World War I for more than ten years and writing nearly 400 pages on the topic, Sterling College Assistant Professor Chad Gaudet has earned his Ph.D. in history from Bowling Green State University. The degree, however, which was made official in December and announced last week, only confirms the desire that made him pursue a doctorate in the first place: Dr. Chad Gaudet loves to learn.

“What I get to do is ideal,” Gaudet said. “When you teach, you learn things. I get paid to learn, and the more I learn, the less I know.” So, although his dissertation, titled “Baptisms of Fire: How Training, Equipment, and Ideas about the Nation Shaped the British, French, and German Soldiers’ Experiences of War in 1914,”was “good enough” to earn the degree, Gaudet plans to continue researching his topic. “I hope to one day turn this into a book,” he said, “or, at the very least, journal articles. I find it very interesting how the three countries’ different perceptions of nationalism influenced their soldiers. Germany’s view of war was that ‘the ends justify the means.’ It was very ethnically focused, while Great Britain’s view was far more influenced by the Enlightenment, not based on ethnicity, but on the value of humans as a whole. The French was a mix of the two.”

Gaudet’s specialization is modern European history, and his minor fields of study are Africa and U.S. foreign policy. “The goal of my doctoral program was for me to focus on one area but also to gain some versatility.”

His achievement is well received by the College. “We are very proud of Dr. Gaudet,” said Associate Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dr. Felicia Squires. “A doctorate degree is quite an accomplishment, and it strengthens both his department and the College as a whole.”

Though Gaudet feels the main benefit of the doctorate was the learning involved—“I was basically living to learn”—he is also thankful for the degree itself. “I set this before myself as a goal, and there is some personal validation in having completed it,” he said.

“That—and a great sense of relief.”