New developments ongoing in humanities department

Department introduces new courses and a multi-major student council

Written By Amanda Andrews, Co-News Editor

The 2019-2020 academic year holds a lot in store for the Humanities and Social Sciences Department.

On Sept. 9, the department held its first meeting that invited all faculty and students. Among the plans for this year, the department announced that an array of new courses would be introduced over the next few semesters and that a multi-major council for students was going to be developed.

Dr. Channa Newman, the chair of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, said that the courses would cover a range of topics but connected its theme of global outreach and understanding.

“What’s interesting about these courses is that they kind of they don’t overlap exactly, but they relate to one another,” Newman said. “So, we hope to create majors…who see the big picture.”

The new courses include Agriculture and Food Systems, Global Governance, Community, Eastern Central European Culture, The Law of Elections, World History: Asia, Literature, Politics and Arts in a Global View as well as Prejudice.

Newman is already teaching two sections of her course Prejudice this semester and said that it is likely she will teach it again in the Spring 2020 semester.

“So in this particular course, we’re going to examine the most discriminated groups over history,” Newman said. “And then try and actually, at the end of the class, to come up with maybe some kind of a manual that even teachers could use in schools to try to inoculate people against prejudice.”

Newman is not the only professor taking on the new course load. For example, Assistant Professor Marion Dixon will be teaching Agriculture and Food Systems and Assistant Professor Dora Ion will teach Global Governance.

Agriculture and Food Systems will cover the complexities of global food production and touch on the roles of pesticides, small farms, poverty, war and water among others, according to Newman. Global Governance will address how different governing systems affect the operations of the entire world.

Notably, Ion is part of 12 new full-time faculty members to join the university for this academic year. Dixon is also a full-time faculty member. However, Newman said that the contribution of adjuncts was also essential to making the offering of these courses possible.

“For us, it’s actually a lot of courses because we’re a small department. We just don’t have very many full-time faculty….And we use a lot of adjuncts who are wonderful, really well-qualified,” Newman said. “So we integrate the adjuncts into our program. We tap into the talent that we have and seek the talent that we need to offer this really high-quality program.”

The other significant change for the Humanities department is the creation of a multi-major council. A select number of students majoring in the Humanities and Social Sciences have been chosen to represent the concerns of their programs and will be able to communicate those with the HSS faculty about those concerns.

“We decided that we really want student participation and student input on a regular basis,” Newman said. “I don’t know that it happens usually.”

One of the students selected was Samantha Shuler, a junior history major.

“I was the only person at the [Sept. 9] event who was a history major, so that’s how I ended up on the council,” Shuler said. “They’re trying to have at least two people [from each major] on the council.”

Shuler said that six students were on the council as of Sept. 29 and that a council meeting is likely going to be held this week. She also said she would be attending a faculty meeting as part of her role for the council.

The multi-major council is still in the early stages of development. It is yet to be determined whether it will become an official student organization or stay contained within the HSS department, and meeting locations are not exactly fixed. Newman said that HSS professors’ office spaces would be offered whenever the council wanted to meet privately.

“We may also offer them the opportunity to come to our faculty meetings on a regular basis and take 15 minutes of our time to share with us their thoughts,” Newman said. “Basically, the aim is to really get their voice heard in a very open way.”