What are the Humanities? CSU, Chico’s Program in Humanities is devoted to the study, appreciation, and analysis of cultural traditions from an interdisciplinary perspective. Through the study of philosophy, religion, history, literature and languages, architecture, art, film, and music students will attain a foundational education in the important achievements of individuals and world cultures. Students who declare Humanities as a major should love the study of cultures and their creative and intellectual development; be solid writers and critical, motivated thinkers who relish discussion and debate; be willing to develop a program of study that reflects their personal interests and the insights of several different academic fields; be committed to attaining proficiency in a foreign language; and welcome overseas study and internships.

The Humanities Program is interdisciplinary, comparative, and critical. Students learn best when they are empowered to use the full range of tools developed in the humanities, and social and natural sciences. Courses in the major allow students to work with faculty in various disciplines and to explore how these different perspectives can help one better understand culture and individual intellectual expressions.

Human knowledge is best studied comparatively. The Program in Humanities emphasizes developments in western culture, but students are expected to do a substantial amount of work related to non-western cultures as well (selected from those of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East). Finally, students are encouraged to become critical thinkers–to analyze, to question, and to seek to understand cultural objects and texts from various critical perspectives. The Program will help students make critical and informed judgments about culture based on aesthetic, literary, philosophical, and historical criteria in intellectual dialog with texts, professors, and fellow students. Students become critical inquirers not only because they acquire fluency in multiple disciplines, but because they are active participants in conversations, and conversations are what the humanities are all about.

Good writing and oral presentation skills are the cornerstone of an outstanding Humanities Program. Nearly all the courses students take will require substantial critical reading of sources, intense and thoughtful writing, and discussion of important texts, ideas, and perspectives. All students are required to participate in an advanced seminar and write a senior (20–30 page) thesis on a topic they select in conjunction with their advisor.

Learn a foreign language and study abroad. It is impossible to understand the development of human knowledge and culture without appreciation of the role of multiple languages in this process. Humanities students are required to study a classical language (such as Hebrew, Greek, Latin, or Arabic) or a modern language (such as Chinese, Japanese, Russian, French, German, or Spanish). Many students link required language study to a study abroad program (see below). Overseas study and experiences solidify a student’s appreciation of another culture, reinforce earlier language study, and provide students with friendships, contacts, and other career-oriented resources that will last a lifetime. The Program in the Humanities takes advantage of the study programs offered by the University in more than 15 countries and at 35 different universities. Such courses of study can last for as little as three weeks, or for a full academic year.

Use your degree when you graduate. A degree in Humanities provides a classic liberal arts education which helps prepare students for careers that require critical thinking, sensitivity, imagination, skill in oral and written communication, and the adaptability that comes from a broad cultural and intellectual background. Our majors have pursued careers in public and private administration, teaching, journalism, performance, and museum work, among others. The degree is also excellent preparation for law school and graduate study in various humanities disciplines.

Call us with your questions, and explore our program! The Program in Humanities offers a wide variety of fascinating courses in more than a dozen departments, personable and knowledgeable faculty, and access to the libraries and online resources of the campus. You will also benefit from the friendship and collaboration of other humanities students whom you will meet in your core classes. At least half of the courses for the major average less than 20 students per class.