New Humanities center and minor expected to become available Spring 2019

Samantha Jette, Copy Editor

A new Saint Anselm College Humanities Institute is currently in the works, with a Humanities minor expected to be available for students in the spring semester 2019. For decades, the College has prided itself on enriching students’ minds by integrating Humanities courses into the core curriculum. Students are required to take courses such as Conversatio and Philosophy that expose them to a new way of thinking, perhaps outside of their selected major.

The seven humanities disciplines on campus are Classics, English, History, Modern Languages, Philosophy, Theology, and Fine Arts. In recent years, the number of students majoring in these humanities disciplines has declined. In an effort to ensure the vitality of the humanities and engage the community in their many aspects, the College has created the Gregory J. Grappone Humanities Institute.

According to its Mission Statement, “The Humanities Institute at Saint Anselm College assists the College in fulfilling its historic commitments to humanistic studies and to providing a distinctive Catholic liberal arts education to all of its students.” Ideally, the Institute will be a center of curricular and co-curricular activity that will lift up humanities at the College and in the surrounding community.

The Institute’s vision is to “harness the resources of the College community to become a nationally recognized leader in creating vibrant and innovative humanities programming.” In the future, the Institute hopes “to encourage both humanities and non-humanities departments to help create a strong humanities culture on campus.”

Dr. Gary Bouchard, chair of the English department, has been appointed as the Founding Executive Director of the Institute. Bouchard has taught in the English Department for over thirty years, and served as the Executive Vice President of the College from 1998 to 2003.

Bouchard stated that the initial ideas for a Humanities Institute arose in 2015 to address a shared concern on the part of department chairs in the humanities disciplines.  However, as thinking about the Institute has developed over the past three years, the focus has shifted to engaging all people in the Humanities, no matter their major or interests.

Currently, the Institute is still in the early implementation stages, and Bouchard will spend the upcoming months doing behind the scenes work. He has also created an Advisory Board to guide the planning process. There are numerous opportunities that the new Institute can take advantage of. One major component of the Institute will be the Humanities minor, which they hope to introduce to the campus next January. Bouchard believes that the minor holds opportunities for students of all majors to further their education through Humanities. The minor will include team-taught courses and seminars to peak students’ interests.

In addition, the Institute hopes to pair with the Meelia Center’s Access Academy in order to continue to introduce local high school students and the community to the idea of Humanities. This will help achieve the goal of reaching out beyond the College and into the surrounding community. Potential future events also include featured speakers and small weekly discussions. The Institute looks forward to the possibility of a partnership with organizations like the New Hampshire Humanities Council and the Currier Museum of Art.

The Institute would not be possible without the generous donation made by the parents of Greg Grappone. Grappone, a Great Books major and Saint Anselm graduate cared deeply about cultural and social issues, politics and the environment. After Grappone lost his battle to cancer in 2015, his family wanted to aid in the creation of the Institute as a special way to commemorate their son.

It is the family’s wish that once the Institute is founded, a wisdom blog based on Tolstoy’s Calendar will be available online. Before his passing, Grappone emailed his father daily to discuss their reflections on Tolstoy’s A Calendar of Wisdom. The Institute seeks to honor Grappone’s passion for Philosophy.

Bouchard believes that Saint Anselm is “the right school and that this is the right time to re-commit itself to humanities.” He believes that the Institute can strengthen the curriculum that the college was originally founded upon as a Catholic college. He states that, “Everyone needs to have a greater understanding and appreciation of humanities in their lives, no matter their background or major.” He hopes the new Institute will signify importance of Humanities at Saint Anselm, and have practical applications beyond classrooms and disciplines. The goal is to recognize and encourage humanistic thought in every area of one’s life.

Bouchard is encouraged by the kind and supportive words he has received from students and faculty during the initial planning process and he looks forward to making the Humanities Institute a reality at the College.