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Humanities Commons

Student Learning Goals

Each Humanities Commons course emphasizes six common learning goals under which the more department-specific course learning objectives fall. These are connected to the University’s seven Institutional Learning Goals in a way that fits with the special features of the Humanities. Each of these features demonstrates a particular value of studying the Humanities for our students’ development as both people and scholars.

These Learning Goals are the following:

In each of these courses students will read a variety of primary texts, by which we mean the original sources rather than commentary upon those sources, closely and critically.

In each of these courses students will analyze, in writing, a variety of texts contributing to larger historical conversations, debates, and traditions and as resources for understanding and appreciating the complexities of human identity, dignity, and experience.

In each of these courses students will develop an understanding of their place in community, country, and world in relationship to multiple others, with particular attention to differences – such as class, gender, and race – upon which social inequalities are constructed and maintained.

In each of these courses students will engage central concepts of Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CIT) as they contribute to humanistic inquiry and reflection in the relevant academic discipline (English, History, Philosophy, or Religious Studies).

In each of these courses students will examine the question of what it means to be human from a disciplinary perspective, and in the process make connections among disciplines and develop an appreciation for the ways in which learning is a process of integrating knowledge.

In each of these courses students will understand and practice academic honesty as foundational to the making and sharing of knowledge as a community of learners that is both local and global.

What is the purpose of the Humanities Commons?

  • To establish a foundation for student learning in the rest of the Common Academic Program and in majors.
  • To exhibit, at an introductory level, the value of humanistic inquiry and reflection as a means of advancing the University's seven institutional learning goals 
  • To challenge students to ask the question: “What does it mean to be human?”
  • To help students understand what is distinctive about each humanities area or “discipline” and the specific lenses and methods that each uses to understand our place in the world
  • To introduce students to the concept that learning is a process of integrating knowledge within and across disciplines.
  • To help students understand the differences among disciplines and to begin to understand the importance of integrating knowledge across those disciplines.

What is the Humanities Commons?

For Students:

These are required first-year courses in Religious Studies, Philosophy, History, and English Composition. They are courses which educate in the spirit of the Common Academic Program by introducing each of the seven institutional learning goals through the Humanities Commons Student Learning Goals (see above).

English 100
Students will be able to:
  • Employ rhetorical concepts, many of which are inherited from the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, for the analysis and production of texts.
  • Build a recursive process of academic inquiry through writing.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the needs of diverse readers by producing texts that purposefully engage multiple others.
  • Communicate expert knowledge on a topic relevant to humanistic study.
English 114
Students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate critical reading of texts.
  • Produce well-researched and supported arguments that appeal to public audiences.
  • Engage in a process of inquiry culminating in a research project that responds to a contemporary social problem.
  • Respond to diverse perspectives on social inequalities.
  • Reflect upon the habits of research and argumentation as inherited from the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.
English 198
Students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate critical reading of texts.
  • Produce well-researched and supported arguments that contribute to a scholarly conversation.
  • Engage in a process of inquiry culminating in a research project addressed to an academic audience.
  • Respond in writing to diverse perspectives on social inequalities.
  • Reflect upon habits of scholarly inquiry and argumentation inherited from the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

  • Historian’s Craft: Students will be able to effectively use appropriate sources to support a historical argument.
  • West and Global Encounters: Students will be able to explain how historical encounters between the Western and non-Western world have transformed the societies involved.
  • Modernity: Students will be able to explain the development of the modern world.
  • Critical evaluation of our times: Students will be able to use historical knowledge to critically evaluate the challenges of their times in light of the past.

  • Scholarship: Students will be able to understand and accurately represent philosophical arguments.
  • Practical Wisdom: Students will be able to engage in competent ethical reasoning.
  • Diversity: Students will demonstrate basic understanding of philosophical perspectives from outside the western canon or of philosophical issues related to diversity and social justice.

Students will be able to:
  • Articulate an introductory level understanding of concepts characteristic of the academic study of religions as historical and embodied realities and discuss examples of those concepts.
  • Articulate an introductory level understanding of concepts characteristic of the academic study of theology and discuss examples of these concepts.
  • Describe accurately significant examples of Catholic theological and historical engagements with diversity, both outside and within Catholicism.
  • Identify and describe accurately and critically significant religious themes in Scripture and other primary texts in relation to their historical context.
  • Identify and describe accurately and self-critically how the context of Western modernity shapes their own engagement with religions.
  • Identify and describe accurately basic Catholic beliefs about the nature of God, creation, human nature, and society as expressed through diverse Catholic intellectual and cultural traditions.

Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of important events, concepts, and developments in the early modern, modern, and contemporary worlds from the standpoint of history, literature, philosophy, religious studies, and rhetoric;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the idea of the west and western civilization as a historical construct with different meanings and manifestations in different times and places;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the historically contingent development of Christianity in the context of other major world religions;
  • Develop an appreciation of the contributions that history, literature, philosophy, religious studies, rhetoric, and the arts make to human knowledge and civilizations, seeing the distinct nature of each of the disciplines as well as interconnections.

In addition, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate critical reading of texts.
  • Produce well-researched and supported arguments that contribute to a scholarly conversation.
  • Engage in a process of inquiry culminating in a research project addressed to an academic audience.
  • Respond in writing to diverse perspectives on social inequalities.
  • Reflect upon habits of scholarly inquiry and argumentation as inherited from the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.
  • Write about historical texts with attention to historiography and historiographical interpretation.

For Faculty:

The Humanities Commons is an opportunity:

  • to work across disciplines in the humanities;
  • to share resources and ideas using the Humanities Commons Team Drive;
  • to attend common events as an academic community;
  • and to see students make the connections that show an understanding of the humanities as they grow not just academically, but holistically.

Learning Goals: Humanities Commons and the Common Academic Program

As mentioned above, the Humanities Commons learning goals (see the first section on this page) are integrated with seven institutional learning goals overall while meeting appropriate area-specific (disciplinary) objectives. In the first year, students will study English, history, philosophy, and religious studies in order to appreciate the value of humanistic inquiry and reflection. These courses create a foundation for student learning in both the Common Academic Program and in majors. In addition, these courses introduce students to the idea that learning is a process of integrating knowledge within and across disciplines.

The First-Year Arts Immersion experience is designed to help first-year Humanities Commons students connect their course material to an overarching annual theme that is selected to encourage integrated learning. The theme for the previous academic calendar, 2018-19, was Power and Vulnerability. This theme connected to the Dayton Ballet’s production of Dracula: Bloodlines, an original ballet that draws from both Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the Lilith story from Jewish theology.

Information on the Fall 2019 First-Year Arts Immersion experience, the Dayton Symphony’s production of Olivier Messaien’s Turangalîla-Symphonie, for which the Humanities Commons theme will be “Love and Madness,” will take place from October 17-19, 2019, at the Schuster Center.

CONTACT

College of Arts and Sciences

O'Reilly Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0800
937-229-2658
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