Humanities Institute Introduces New Humanities Minor

February 19, 2019

By Kerrin Norton '19

This January, Saint Anselm College began offering a minor in humanities for students of all disciplines. Through this new minor, students may explore themes in the humanities in a variety of advanced and interdisciplinary courses, examining life’s big questions in classroom contexts reminiscent of their Conversatio experience.

“At their essence, the humanities cultivate human wisdom by engaging us in the ageless conversation about the meaning of our lives,” says Gary Bouchard, executive director of the Gregory J. Grappone Humanities Institute.

The program, an academic component of the Humanities Institute, is managed by Director of the Conversatio Program and chemistry professor Derk Wierda.

 “The minor gives students the opportunity to expand the number of humanities offerings available to them,” says Wierda. “Especially those students who are majoring in subjects outside the departments of Classics, English, fine arts, history, modern languages, philosophy, and theology. It aims to provide students who enjoy the humanities, but are not majors, the ability to explore.”

Requirements for the minor include five HU-designated courses beyond Conversatio. Three must feature an interdisciplinary approach (including two that are team-taught), while the remaining two courses can be approved offerings from one of the seven humanities departments.

The focus on innovative, team-taught courses means students can study subjects as diverse as Shakespeare and political power, art, science, and the imaginative process, and gender in literature and music. “It is fundamental that the humanities have an interdisciplinary approach, so taking advantage of the perspective and diverse intellectual background of multiple professors and curricula to provide an interdisciplinary background for students is vital,” says Wierda. The interdisciplinary nature of the coursework also means that the minor is attainable for students of all majors, since those seeking to begin will likely find they have already have completed some of the requirements.

To learn more, attend the Humanities Institute Open House for students, faculty, and staff on Tuesday, February 19 at 6:30 p.m., in the Living Learning Commons (LLC) classroom or visit

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