Why take Humanities Courses?
What Are the Humanities?
The Humanities are the disciplines which study human beings and their cultural products.
These disciplines include anthropology, history, language and literature, philosophy and political science, to name just a few. The Humanities are about connecting the past with the present and invite us to think about the truth of what it means to be human, whether that human truth is discovered and critically examined through the stories of an ancient Greek writer such as Homer or a present day thinker like Douglas Copeland. This thinking counteracts the intellectual impoverishment of our often violent and cynical public culture. Humanities students develop a tolerant and open self identity and find themselves connected to the past and empowered to change the future no matter what career path they decide to pursue.
The Needs of the Community
Humanities and the College
The mission of the Cegep system is to provide an excellent well rounded education that reflects the cultural and ethnic diversity of Quebec and the world, fosters personal and social development and leads to meaningful employment and further academic study. At Dawson, students enjoy an international community of scholarship reflected in the curriculum, and in the diversity of the student population, faculty and staff.
This mission of excellence in diversity is reflected in the Humanities Department. It is in the humanities that students will connect almost every field of specialized study that they have mastered thus far and see the important connections across the disciplines of their programs at the College. It is this interdisciplinary approach that makes the humanities the heart of general education. Quebecers have realized, along with the rest of the global community, that an overspecialized, compartmentalized education will create a society of narrow minded, isolated and intolerant individuals who have trouble seeing themselves as part of a global human community.
Since our very survival is dependent upon an ability to work together in a thoughtful, critical and tolerant manner, we are trying to rehabilitate education as the cultivation of humanistic values that are so sadly lacking in our cynical and often violent global community.
Besides emphasizing the connections between various subject matters, the hallmark of the humanities is their emphasis on the human being behind the body of knowledge. In the humanities, students are not passive recipients of a lifeless mass of facts, rather, they are active participants in the discovery and reconstruction of the knowledge they acquire. The process of discovery is as significant and exciting as the final product of the knowledge acquired.
Humanities courses do more than result in understanding. They actually empower and provoke students to think independently and critically about the status quo and to make positive changes in their communities and in the world. The Cegep system mirrors the vision of humanistic scholars, namely, to build a responsible, inclusive, cooperative and engaged society.
Drawing on a wide variety of teaching material: scientific, literary and philosophical texts, cultural artifacts, films, theater, and music each Humanities course category teaches a particular set of skills that remains the same regardless of the subject matter.
These can be found in greater detail on the next page.