Department Chairperson: Michael Wood
Local: 1578 Office: 5D.15
Humanities is core to all pre-university and career programs. Each student must choose one course from each of the following three categories. Students should take these courses in the following sequence:
The humanities department offers a diverse and spirited repertoire of courses that cuts across many disciplines and reflects the multiethnic cultures and interests of the Dawson student population. Our teachers are trained scholars in history, philosophy, musicology, political science, anthropology, science, art history, film studies and journalism to name just a few of the disciplines and research interests represented in humanities. The subject matter of the courses varies enormously and there is something to suit everyone, however, all humanities courses share the common goal of making human beings and their cultural achievements the main object of study. Whether the course you take examines how knowledge was constructed during the scientific revolution, studies worldviews in our contemporary era of globalization or explores ethical issues in Shakespeare’s plays you can be sure that you will discover the importance of humanistic values.
Those of us who have witnessed tragic events in our community and in the world have paused to take stock of our roles as members of an increasingly violent and cynical global community. One might wonder: what role can the often backward looking humanities play on the global academic and non academic stage? Why should we spend our time examining the historical achievements of humanity when the world is in crisis and there are pressing practical problems to be addressed? Students will discover that humanities courses contribute a valuable and practical service to public culture. In the humanities classroom great thinkers, past and present, are examined in their social, historical, economic and ideological context. Students learn to hear the human voice behind the text, thus they learn tolerance and understanding. Students learn to develop clear, critical, organized and thoughtful ways of communicating both orally and in written form. These skills are essential for conflict resolution and for making a thoughtful contribution to society no matter what career path our students decide to pursue.
Drawing on a wide variety of teaching material, for example, scientific, literary and philosophical texts, cultural artifacts, films, theater or music, humanities courses teach students (1) to understand what knowledge is, how knowledge is constructed and how to reason about and critically assess various kinds of knowledge claims, (2) to understand, interpret and reconstruct a worldview, and (3) to discover and reflect upon moral issues.