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Getting to Know: Humanities

October 13, 2017

Deane Tucker Deane Tucker

College Relations publishes a monthly series of news articles, features and Q&A interviews highlighting various departments on campus in an effort to assist the faculty and staff in gaining an increased awareness about and understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities.

The October Q&A is with Dr. Thomas Deane Tucker, Professor in the English and Humanities Department.

What major fields of study are included in the Humanities program at CSC?

We don’t have a Humanities program here at CSC that leads to a degree. We do offer an Interdisciplinary Humanities minor with the participation of the English, Theatre, Art, Music, and History programs. Students who declare the minor can also take classes in philosophy and, of course, Humanities, offered in the English and Humanities department.

Why is the study of Humanities important?

The Humanities and humanistic inquiry provides us with the foundation for exploring and understanding what it means to be human — our common human legacy and experience — and how understanding the values of our own culture and those of other cultures adds to our knowledge of that human experience and enriches our lives. Through humanistic inquiry, we learn how to think critically and creatively and to ask the big questions that matter to all of us in order to gain new perspectives on the human condition as expressed in the gamut of human activities, from politics, to how we relate to other animals, to poetry and music, or to our economic models so we can understand ourselves a little better and perhaps even contribute to a richer and more comprehensible future.

Must a student in the Humanities department choose to specialize in a specific discipline?

Students in one of the humanistic departments mentioned above that offer a major will certainly need to specialize in one (or more) disciplines. The minor is designed with breadth of knowledge over depth.

How do students benefit from taking courses in Humanities?

Perhaps the humanistic ideal could be summed up in something Plato said: “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard road.” Hopefully, students come away from courses in the Humanities with a life-long desire to keep asking questions about their lives and meaning, and to continue developing understanding and empathy for others.

How does the Humanities department utilize new technology in teaching?

Ours is an information and technology driven society. There is an entire subfield called “Digital Humanities” that explores our relationships with emerging technologies. The question of what the Greeks called techne has always been in the foreground of the Humanities. In my own department, many faculty use social media platforms in the classroom as a teaching tool, while others focus on teaching digital literacy through various strategies. Of course, we all use Sakai in one way or another. My colleagues in Art and Music would certainly have a lot to say about the role of technology in their pedagogy which is likely unique to their disciplines, or even to say, a particular instrument. But as educators, we sometimes forget that a text — whether it be a poem or a philosophical essay — is also a form of technology and that reading is a form of techne, as is simple conversation in a classroom.

What type of job or career might a student who majors in Humanities find?

Teacher, publisher, journalist, sound engineer, museum director, graphic designer, preparation for graduate school to become a doctor, and lawyer. CEO of Apple or Microsoft. Fireman. There really is no limit.

—George Ledbetter

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