College considering new Humanities Institute


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The reduction in declared majors within the humanities disciplines has the college considering a Humanities Institute.

Dan Flatley, Crier Staff

Saint Anselm College installed a completely new curriculum starting with the Class of 2018 when they entered as freshmen in the fall of 2014.  One of the unintended consequences of this new curriculum is that the college has seen a reduction in the number of students declaring majors within traditional humanities disciplines. In some cases, like History and Philosophy for example, that reduction is quite significant.

While the Humanities courses are still a large focus of the core curriculum, the drop in the number of students declaring humanities majors has not gone un-noticed.  Disciplines that qualify under the Humanities umbrella and have seen a drop in majors include Classics, English, History, Philosophy, Theology, Modern Languages and Fine Arts.

Partly in response to the decline in these majors, as well as for many positive reasons, the college is now considering founding a Humanities Institute in hopes of enhancing the vibrancy of the humanities, support these individual disciplines and keep these areas of study in the forefront of every students’ life at the College and beyond.

“In January of 2015, the chairs of the seven different humanities departments came together because of the shared concern over the real and perceived diminishing presence of Humanities on campus and in the culture at large,” Professor Gary Bouchard said. Professor Bouchard, chair of the English Department, went on to explain that the Humanities Institute has been a work in progress ever since January of 2015.  He detailed that the institute would not by any means detract anything from other majors on campus that have seen an increase in number of students, but it would serve as a central hub for those majoring in Humanities as well as for students and faculty who wish to engage in the thought and life of these disciplines. A key component of the Institute would be a Humanities minor that would feature innovate team-taught courses.

An official draft of the mission statement for the Humanities Institute reads as follows: “It is the mission of The Humanities Institute at Saint Anselm College to help the College fulfill both its historic commitment to humanistic studies and its mission of providing “a distinctive liberal arts education” to all of its students. The Institute will do so by joining the various humanities disciplines at the college into shared scholarly inquiry and teaching activities, enriching and diversifying the college’s humanistic curricular and co-curricular offerings, and extending the reach of the humanities from the Saint Anselm campus into surrounding communities.”

The Humanities Institute is still very early in the process of getting approved, according to Brother Isaac Murphy, O.S.B., Ph.D, Vice President of Academic Affairs.  The first working proposal for the institute was submitted to Br. Isaac in January.  Br. Isaac will next present this proposal to the Curriculum Committee and the Faculty Senate for their review and approval.  After making the proper changes presented by these two groups the proposal will then be brought to a “review committee” created by Br. Isaac.  After the review committee has made their proper changes then the proposal will be brought to the President’s Cabinet for their review.  The final say will be from President Dr. Steven DiSalvo, according to Br. Isaac.

“I am hoping to have a proposal to bring to the review committee well before the end of the academic year,” said Br. Isaac.

The Humanities Institute is still in the early phases of review, but the hope from the members of the Humanities Institute is that the institute will move forward in the process before the end of the academic year.