Humanities: ‘Create your own major’

Lindsay Shoff

In a move designed to intensify the liberal arts major, college representatives announced the creation of the humanities major available to current freshmen and sophomores.

The new course of study, which will replace the old liberal arts major, was devised by Dr. John Doody, director of the humanities major, and Rev. Kail Ellis, O.S.A., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“There was great value in the liberal arts major, but they recognized that it needed to be honed,” Dr. Nancy Kelley, assistant director of humanities, said.

Current juniors will be the last class able to major in liberal arts, and subsequent classes may major in humanities, which will allow students to design their own interdisciplinary curriculum.

“If you love all kinds of humanities, then this is the major for you,” Kelley said.

The main difference between these majors is the gateway course requirement. “Birth, Sex, Love and Death” is an introductory course designed to teach students how to think in an interdisciplinary fashion. This fall, the course will be team-taught by Dr. Tom Smith of the political science department and Dr. Kevin Hughes of the theology department.

In addition to the introductory requirement, students must take an exit course, which will be centered on a senior project of their choosing. Other than these two requirements, students can take any other courses within the humanities.

Kelley said the major affords a lot more opportunity for creativity.

“If you really like English, but are interested in the history [behind the literature], you can take more history and art history classes, “she said. “If you’re interested in the role of God in the war movement, you can not only learn about politics, but theology and music as well. You have a beautiful choice to create your own major,” Kelley continued.

Another change is the advisory group. Rather than just one advisor, humanities majors will have an entire advising team, composed of faculty, to help them determine the most appropriate and pertinent courses to take.

To gather enthusiasm for the new major, Kelley and freshman Peter Barin organized a CD campaign to showcase its diverse offerings. Over 200 CDs filled with tunes from the James Bond theme to Miles Davis and photographs of the Sistine Chapel and

Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe were distributed to undeclared sophomores.

“We’re trying to bring in everything,” Kelley said.

“Hopefully we’re seen as an exciting interdisciplinary major using both a historic and modern approach to knowledge.”

A curriculum committee comprised of Drs. Hughes, Smith, Earl Bader, Anthony Godzieba, Bill Werpehowski, Mary Edsall and Bryan Crable helped formulate the course of study for the new major. The professors represent the English, theology, political science, peace and justice, core humanities and communication departments.