The Humanities program at Athabasca University offers a modern version of the Renaissance concept of a liberal arts education. It is firmly based on the academic disciplines that traditionally comprise the broad field of the humanities, including history, philosophy, and the study of literature, music and art. However, it also recognizes the contributions made more recently to the humanities by such newer disciplines as aboriginal studies, cultural studies, religious studies, and women’s studies. And the geographical compass of the program is not limited to European ideas and culture but extends to the Americas and Asia.

The program has four main aims:

  1. To ensure that students will learn or improve the key intellectual skills required to study the humanities effectively: information literacy, academic writing, and critical thinking. They will also demonstrate basic proficiency in a second language.
  2. To provide an overview of the evolution of human thought and culture from the earliest civilizations to the present, as well as opportunities to study the intellectual and cultural life of historical eras, such as Ancient Greece, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment that were of particular importance for the development of the human spirit.
  3. To emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary research and learning within the modern field of the humanities by providing courses at both junior and senior level in which several humanities disciplines contribute to the exploration of a given academic subject or historical era.
  4. To give students an opportunity to become familiar with the methodologies and subject matter of a variety of such fields as art history, classics, comparative literature, history of ideas, history of science, philosophy, music, religious studies, and women’s studies.

The Humanities program is offered in three forms: as a Major within the 4-year B.A., as a Concentration within the 3-year B.A., and as a Minor within the 4-year degree. In each case we aim to ensure that students develop the fundamental intellectual skills required for university-level work in the humanities (writing skills, critical thinking, and information literacy), explore the interdisciplinary nature of much intellectual work that has been done and is currently being done in the humanities, and have an opportunity to sample several of the main humanities disciplines.  This can, of course, be done more systematically and at greater depth in the Major than in the Concentration or the Minor, but in each case the fundamental goal of the program is the same.

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Updated March 15 2016 by Student & Academic Services