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When Marquis Scholar Daniel Rubin ’02 (Canoga, Calif.) entered Lafayette, he envisioned a future as a lawyer. Nearly four years later, he’s much more concerned about the past and how it has shaped the present.

Rubin, a history major, is exploring the United States’ decision to move troops north of the 38th Parallel during the Korean War for his senior honors thesis.

“The Korean War has always been an interesting topic to me,” he says. “It is intriguing to study the American motives behind getting involved in another conflict so quickly after World War II. The war also marked a new phase in American foreign policy, in that we were fighting for an ideal — anti-communism — as opposed to a defined territorial invasion, as was the case in the two world wars.”

Rubin wrote a term paper on the roots of the Korean War last year for a foreign policy class taught by Arnold Offner, Cornelia F. Hugel Professor of History.

“The period from 1945 to 1950 was a very important and exciting period in American history, since it marked the end of a huge world conflict and saw the beginning of a 45-year Cold War,” Rubin says, adding that he became so interested that he decided to explore the topic further.

“I love reading through primary documents,” he says. “You get a feel of the time. There’s no analysis by current historians — it’s all the genuine stuff. And I love reading through foreign policy documents.”

Offner, Rubin’s thesis adviser, says Rubin had been “reading heavily” from U.S. Department of State files and from material from the Chinese government. “Dan’s terrific,” he says. “He’s a super researcher, he’s very analytical in his thinking, and he’s a hard worker. He has all the makings of a very, very fine historian. He’s a hard-working, hard-driving, reliable, responsible, and serious young man.”

Rubin, who hopes to earn a Ph.D. in history and teach on the university level, says Lafayette has provided him with “a very helpful and beneficial environment for independent work such as my thesis. The two most important aspects of writing a thesis are good research facilities and positive thesis advisers. The library has a wide and extensive collection of periodicals, government documents, and secondary sources on my topic, making my research far more thorough.”

And, he adds, Offner has been very helpful. “He has given me suggestions of sources to research and aided me in the basic structuring of a thesis,” Rubin says.

A member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and Phi Alpha Theta, the history honors society, Rubin is also working as an EXCEL Scholar project with Offner this semester, exploring Hubert Humphrey’s vice presidency and candidacy for president of the United States in 1969.

Categorized in: Academic News