History of the Program

The Western Civilization Program began in 1945 as an independent reading program. It was mainly a reading-discussion program from 1955-1987 but became a full lecture-discussion curriculum in 1987.

Western Civilization is a two-semester interdisciplinary humanities program centering in selected influential writings of the Western world from ancient times to the present. For some years the program has been committed to including attention to the issues of gender, race, the Jewish experience in the West, the origins and influence of Islam, and the interaction between Western and non-Western cultures.

Western Civilization is a general education requirement for all B.A. and B.G.S. students and most B.S. students in the College, and for all Architecture, Journalism, and Social Welfare majors. In 1992 Western Civilization was designated a writing-intensive program, extending students' writing experience in their three required English courses. Among the other activities initiated by the Western Civilization Program have been Independent Study courses, an annual student essay contest, fall and spring semester abroad programs in Florence and Paris, and the annual Seaver Lectureship.

Founded in 1947, the Humanities Program has over the years been a catalyst and a forum for faculty who want to develop innovative courses that transcend disciplinary boundaries, and an individualized interdisciplinary major for students who want to explore and integrate a variety of areas of study.

Among its popular courses have been the "Masterpieces of World Literature" series, the "Interrelations of the Humanities and the Arts" course, the "Biography of a City" series, and the "Science, Technology, and Society" course. Graduates of the program have entered the fields of business and banking, law, teaching, writing and editorial work, and many have successfully completed graduate study in a variety of subject areas.

Humanities Brochure

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