Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why Major?


Tell us about the Department of Humanistic Studies here at Saint Mary’s College.
Having a hard time deciding on a major? Enjoy reading, writing, and discussion? Feel as though you’d like to learn more about the “big picture” and be able to answer questions like, “How do Dante’s and Shakespeare’s works fit into history?” “How did Christianity shape the Middle Ages?” “Why are there Catholics and Protestants?” “Why did the Italian Renaissance produce so many great artists?” “What’s the link between the French and the American Revolutions?” If so, then HUST is for you!
We offer a unique, dynamic course of study that combines elements of all of the humanities and looks at culture in all its diversity. Throughout your education with HUST, you’ll be encouraged to see how it all connects: history and literature, music and art, philosophy and religion. 
What classes can the students expect to take in the Department of Humanistic Studies?
HUST offers a number of intro courses that feature spirited conversation and stimulating readings, all while fulfilling the college’s general education requirement. Some of our most popular courses include Lives & Times (HUST 103)—real-life stories of fascinating individuals throughout history; Myth, Legend, and History (HUST 197)—different ways of seeing the past from Cleopatra to the Titanic; High Society (HUST 212)—a thousand years of British royals and aristocrats from King Arthur to Princess Diana; and Greek and Roman Culture (HUST 292)—love, friendship, sex, beauty, and myth in the ancient world.
For the major, students take four tandems or paired courses (one in literature, one in cultural history) that take them through Western Civilization from the Middle Ages to the present (8 classes total, plus an art history class).
Courses in Humanistic Studies are taught by professors trained in history as well as literature, with fields of specialization that include medieval religious life, eighteenth-century women, travel literature in the seventeenth-century and twentieth-century poetry.
What campus or off-campus activities are students involved in that major in Humanistic Studies?
Humanistic Studies majors are active participants in a number of activities including dance, athletics, campus societies, campus ministry, and community service. The student-run Humanistic Studies Club offers its members a forum for sharing an interest in the humanities through a variety of academic and social events. The club also provides a space outside the classroom for majors of all years to get to know one another.
What knowledge and skills will students learn by majoring in Humanistic Studies?
Humanistic Studies prepares its graduates for both the working world and their journey as life-long learners. As a major or minor, you will sharpen your analytic abilities, enhance your writing skills, develop confidence in oral communication and delivery, and learn the art of persuasion. In our small, seminar-style classes, you will form an intellectual community with your peers by often working in teams and forming study groups. Our graduates frequently comment on their surprise at discovering how essential these assets are in the business world, from drafting grant proposals to editing online web content to coming up with a new approach to a client’s problem.
In this highly competitive 21st-century global market, it is crucial for college graduates to think outside of the box and draw connections between diverse fields, cultures, or viewpoints. HUST hones these skills and serves as an ideal preparation for law school and graduate school in the humanities, as today’s programs put a premium on interdisciplinary thinking.
The knowledge you gain during your two years as a HUST major is far-reaching as it takes you across the literature, history, thought, and art of Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the 19th century and up to our own day. Developing at once a deep and broad understanding of Western Culture will give you a perspective from which to appreciate other cultures, today and in the past.
In addition, our students often comment on how easily they find themselves involved in conversations they never imagined—crossing, for example, the bounds of political history, postmodern literature, renaissance art, Church history, or baroque music—with confidence and ease.
Just ask some of our majors:
  • “My HUST journey has made me a more analytical, worldly, and confident woman, able to see the ‘big picture’” (Sarah Gunn, ’10)
  • “Humanistic Studies is refining my ability to learn from multiple dimensions, whether the written word, an engraving, or a song. The ability to see connections has empowered me to understand how people frame their world and translates how I frame mine” (Hannahbeth Fischer, ’11).
What majors does a minor in Humanistic Studies complement well?
Humanistic Studies adapts well to almost any major/minor: English, History, Psychology, Modern Languages, Religious Studies, Biology, Business, Sociology and Social Work—to name a few of our most recent double-majors and minors. In addition, many of our students have studied abroad, and our program is designed to complement those experiences and schedules. In short, a double major or minor in HUST offers you the opportunity to enrich your college experience by joining the generations of women who have graduated with the breadth of knowledge and skills that HUST provides.
What internships have students participated in and what kind of research opportunities are available to students? 
Humanistic Studies majors are competitive for a number of different internships and research opportunities. Recent students have interned at Simon & Schuster Publishing (London), Ave Maria Press, Snite Museum of Art, Northern Indiana Historical Society, and the College Football Hall of Fame.  Not only does the department have special funding to support juniors in summer study abroad programs, but it also offers grants to support six-week summer internships in London, England. 
What careers can students look forward to with a major in Humanistic Studies?
Our most recent graduates have landed jobs in corporate communications, non-profit administration, teaching, and publishing. For example, Katy Karr ('06) is a communications assistant for Bank of America, New York; Anne DeCleene (2003) is a civil rights complaint investigator; Michelle Sherman (’08) teaches high school in New York City; Michelle Biersmith Hennings (2004) works for the Lyric Opera in Chicago (human resources); Kirsten Kensinger (’07) volunteers with the Peace Corps in Guatemala; Katherine Docter (2004) is a school psychologist; Kate Williams (’07) works with the Indianapolis Peace Institute; Kristine King ('08) works in the operations office of the Wisconsin State Treasurer; Rachel Berg Walters (2006) is a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army; Cara Ford (’00) is an assistant registrar at Mills College in California; Tiffany McIver (2007) is a tour guide in Rome and Regan Doherty (’97) was the Associated Press correspondent in Jerusalem before coming to her current position writing for a magazine in Bahrain that focuses on economics throughout the Persian Gulf region. Attending graduate school and law school are also natural “next steps” for many our students. Majoring in HUST gives these students an edge in the application process as they explain what makes them, and their major, unique.
Other popular careers for HUST majors include museum work, library and information sciences, business, sales, and insurance. For more information on Careers with HUST, see the testimonials for HUST graduates on our website: http://www3.saintmarys.edu/humanistic-studies-jobs. Also see the presentation, "What are you going to do with a major in the Humanities?" give during HUST Week 2010.
If a student wanted to know more about Humanistic Studies as a major or minor (if applicable), what would be the next step?
For more information about our program, feel free to talk it over with a professor: Laura Williamson Ambrose (lambrose@saintmarys.edu), John Shinners (shinners@saintmarys.edu), Philip Hicks (phicks@saintmarys.edu), or Gail Mandell (gmandell@saintmarys.edu). We will explain how our flexible, dynamic major/minor courses can fit into your college plan. Some of our best resources, of course, are the students themselves. Humanistic Studies majors would be happy to share their thoughts and experiences about the program, as well as their reasons for deciding to go with HUST. Just email a faculty member and we can connect you with a current student. Finally, you can learn more about our program online (http://www3.saintmarys.edu/humanistic-studies) or on our brochure, available in the Humanities Suite, first floor of Spes Unica (east end).

Other Resources:
Notre Dame's First Year of Studies offers a "Why Major in...?" podcast series. The podcast by the Dean of Arts & Letters nicely compliments the goals of Humanistic Studies.

(Content originally posted on the Career Center's "Spotlight on an Academic Department")

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