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Humanities Commons

History and the Humanities Commons

HST 103: The West and the World

Survey of key themes in world history including the social, economic, cultural, political, and environmental forces that shaped the human past throughout the globe.

This course offers a history of globalization by examining key aspects of world history. We will examine how patterns of interactions in the past have contributed to the making of our contemporary world. In doing so we will explore the nature and transformation of environments, economies, and the politics associated with such change that were connected to questions of empire, community, nationalism, gender and race, immigration and labor, culture and religion. The course will exhibit, at an introductory level, the value of humanistic inquiry and reflection as a means of advancing the seven learning outcomes by challenging students to ask the question: “What does it mean to be human?” Particular emphasis will be placed on the diversity outcome and on introducing the Catholic intellectual tradition. Prerequisites: None

HST 103 is taught by a large number of faculty, and content, periodization, emphasis, etc. will vary between sections. However, the Student Learning Objectives are the same in all sections.

Methods of instruction may include: lecture, instruction on close, critical reading of assigned material (e.g., written responses to reading guides, guided classroom discussion, oral presentations), co-curricular experiences (e.g., guest speakers), and written assignments including essays that require students to produce clear and logical papers.

First Year Immersion Experience

A method of instruction unique to Humanities Commons courses is participation in the First Year Immersion experience, which is available to all students in HST 103. Tickets and transportation to the Schuster Center for a performance of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance symphony, opera or ballet are provided and the event is incorporated into curriculum across the four Humanities Commons courses. Events have included:

  • 2014: Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Symphony
  • 2015: Dead Man Walking, Opera
  • 2016: Romeo and Juliet, Ballet

The First Year Immersion experience is further supported by the programming of the Graul Chair in Arts and Languages Rites.Rights.Writes. programming, the Alumni Chair in Humanities programming and ArtsLIVE initiatives. 

Learning Goals and Outcomes


HST 103 is a first-year Humanities Commons course within the Common Academic Program. As such, its student learning outcomes (listed in the next section) are designed to support the six student learning goals of the Humanities Commons.

By completing the courses within the Humanities Commons, students will:

  • Read primary texts closely and critically (including self-critically);
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Engage central concepts of Catholic intellectual tradition as they contribute to humanistic inquiry and reflection in the relevant academic discipline (English, History, Philosophy, or Religious Studies);
  • 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
  • Understand and practice academic honesty as foundational to the making and sharing of knowledge in a community of learners that is both local and global.
HST 103 Student Learning Outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an introductory understanding in writing of the historian’s craft including the nature of sources, critical analysis, historical perspective and methodology.
  • Define the concept of “the West” since 1500 and articulate at least one of the arguments critiquing this concept.
  • Use basic historical analysis to explain global phenomena that have had an economic, political, environmental, social and cultural impact on the way people lived in the past and exist in the present.
  • Articulate a definition of “modernity” and identify at least three responses that this concept has generated (including that of the Marianists).
  • Locate, periodize and define major global civilizations (including from Asia, Latin America, and Africa) and the impact these civilizations had on conditions of everyday life and world-wide encounters in the modern world.
  • Describe the development and impact of ideologies around the globe, including the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, as a product of and response to modernity.

College of Arts and Sciences

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