The Humanities Division asks students to do something amazingly hard: to think, deeply, about a variety of topics and to report that thinking. Hard, indeed, but we promise students won't be bruised by the encounter. Our mission, essentially, is to offer experiences, and the understandings and skills those experiences generate. What experiences do we offer? Primarily these: the literature and films human beings create, the speech communities they navigate, the structure of the languages they speak, the ethical and spiritual norms that govern their interactions, and the scope and limits of our capacity for understanding ourselves and others.
The Humanities Division creates environments in which learning can occur, environments where students are encouraged to analyze, interpret, synthesize, and evaluate; to not genuflect overly much before knowledge; to pose questions, speak what they think and listen to what others think; and to formulate perspectives that take full account of the complexity of most issues and situations.
We teach thinking critically and communicating effectively, two truly transformative skills that provide the foundation for any career and for meaningful, productive lives. We do not want students to sit passively, waiting for knowledge to be deposited into their heads; rather, we believe students should be challenged to see the range and possibilities of ideas. The more ideas learners encounter, the more curious they become and the less rigid and intolerant their perception of the world-a capacity especially important as the world becomes increasingly more interdependent.
Finally, we believe good teaching is the most academically prestigious activity in which to engage. Perhaps that is why 60% of the Humanities faculty has won the Annual Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award, and why survey after survey of our graduates concurs with the respondent who succinctly observed, "I have been well prepared."