The College Announces New Curricular Initiatives in the Humanities

The College Announces New Curricular Initiatives in the Humanities

The College will introduce two curricular initiatives in order to broaden the opportunities for interdisciplinary study among undergraduates. The Signature Courses initiative, beginning Spring Quarter 2017, promises gateway courses from faculty in an array of disciplines in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. The Course Cluster initiative, launching in Autumn Quarter 2017, will offer groups of courses concentrating on a particular topic, question, or issue from a multi-disciplinary perspective.  Courses in both initiatives will not have prerequisites and are open to all students.

“The goal is to offer courses that generate rather than presuppose an interest in an humanistic field or topic,” Christopher Wild, Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division and Associate Professor in the Department of Germanic Studies, says of Signature Courses. “We think of them as electives that ideally lead to a more substantive engagement with the topic, field, or discipline.”

Signature Courses will be offered recurrently over the course of at least five years, providing students ample opportunity to take them during their four years in the College. The inaugural courses and instructors this Spring quarter include:

  • Self-Creation as a Philosophical and Literary Problem (Agnes Callard, Philosophy)
  • Making and Meaning in the American Musical (Thomas Christensen, Music)
  • Introduction to the Middle East (Fred Donner, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations)
  • Richer and Poorer (Elaine Hadley, English Language and Literature)
  • Truth (Christopher Kennedy, Linguistics)
  • Japanese History through Film and Other Texts (James Ketelaar, East Asian Languages and Civilizations)
  • Big: Monumental Buildings and Sculpture in the Past and Present (James Osborne, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations)
  • Science and Aesthetics (Robert Richards, Philosophy of Science)
  • Traditional Eastern Asian Literature: Ghosts and the Fantastic (Judith Zeitlin, East Asian Languages and Civilizations)

The Course Clusters initiative will consist of two- or three-course sequences in disciplines across the humanities, social sciences, physical, and biological sciences. These courses will serve as a middle ground between one-time engagement with a discipline and majors and minors. The inaugural list of Course Clusters includes Economic History, Urban Design, Climate Change, and Inequality, with additional clusters under consideration.

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March 1, 2017