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Meet Our Professors: Dave Lunt, History

It’s all Greek for Dave Lunt, assistant professor of history. A specialist in ancient athletics, Dave intensely studies the effects of sports in society, specifically Greece. He loves studying this 2,000-year-old topic because of the ways that sports reveal cause-and-effect in ancient (and modern) societies, as well as the human factors that drive historic events.


Assistant Professor of History

Department of History, Sociology, and Anthropology

How long have you been working at SUU?
6 years  

Where did you grow up?
Salt Lake City, Utah

Where did you attend college and what did you study?
-Bachelor’s in History at University of Utah
-Master’s in History at University of Utah
-Doctorate in Ancient History at Penn State University

When and how did you decide what you wanted to teach history?
In some ways, rather than feel like I chose to do history, I feel like history chose me. I have known that I wanted to study history since I was 15 years old. I decided to study it in college, then graduate school, and then I’ve kept going. I decided I would keep studying history until I grew tired of it; 25 years later, I’m not there yet.

What do you feel is the most interesting thing about history?
I am really fascinated by the idea of cause-and-effect. Sometimes things happen that defy easy explanation; some things don’t have a rational cause-and-effect. It is a desire to know more about these human factors in the events of the past that draws me to this field.  

Dave-1.gifWhat is your favorite era of history to study?
My favorite era of history is the ancient world.  Ancient Greece, to be precise.  It is a fascinating time and place that has had an enormous influence on our world.  Things like the university, democracy, freedom of speech, philosophy, and – of course, history – all of these things can be traced back to the ancient Greek world.  Learning ancient Greek was a challenge (it still is), but I love digging into the world of the ancient Greeks through their own words.

My main research area is ancient Greek athletics.  If you think that modern people love sports, the ancient Greeks were crazy about athletic competitions. There were the Olympic Games and other festivals, to be sure, but most Greek boys grew up practicing sports in the local gymnasium.  This topic – the role of athletics in ancient Greek society – is my favorite thing to study.  I find that I have far more questions than time to do the research.Dave-2.gif

Why do you love history?
In history, there are always new questions to ask.  When I was an undergraduate, one of my professors told me that a historian is only as good as the questions that he/she asks of the evidence. This adage seems like a cliché, but it has stuck with me.

What is one thing you wish to tell every student in your class?
One thing I wish I could tell every student in my class is that grades matter less than learning.  We have told young people over and over again that they need to go to college in order to get a job.  That’s true – but only partly so.  The trick is to go to college and learn a lot of useful skills and other stuff.  Then they will get a job.  It’s the learning that matters most.


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