Humanities & Arts Requirement

WPI’s innovative curriculum is anchored in its Humanities & Arts (HUA) Requirement, completed by all WPI students and satisfied by a set of six courses of their choosing. The HUA Requirement provides intellectual scope beyond the sciences and engineering, requiring students to explore the human experience through performance, analysis, the creative process, or cultural exploration.

The HUA Requirement:

  • Introduces students to the breadth, diversity, and creativity of human experience as expressed in the humanities and arts.
  • Develops students’ ability to think critically and independently about the world.
  • Enhances students’ ability to communicate effectively with others in a spirit of openness and cooperation.
  • Enriches students’ understanding of themselves.
  • Deepens students’ ability to apply concepts and skills in a focused thematic area through sustained critical inquiry.
  • Encourages students to reflect on their responsibilities to others in local, national, and global communities.
  • Kindles in students a lifelong interest in the humanities and arts.

With greater insight into the diversity and creativity of the human condition, students gain the skills and reflection necessary for situating science and technology in human contexts and assuming roles as tomorrow’s global citizens.

To complete this requirement, students choose between six sequential courses in a single foreign language, concluding with an advanced course that satisfies the Inquiry Seminar or Practicum requirement; or a six-course set of courses, including a breadth and a depth component, that culminates in an Inquiry Seminar or Practicum. All students must complete two units, equaling six courses, of HUA coursework. Learn more…

Meeting the Requirement

Breadth and depth are important components of the HUA requirement. Breadth ensures that students have the chance to explore more than one disciplinary area of interest and learn about the different modes of intellectual inquiry in at least two HUA disciplines. The breadth requirement is fulfilled by selecting one course each from two of five intellectual course groupings. Depth is satisfied by completing one unit (three courses) of work related by theme or discipline, including at least one 2000-level or higher course. Depth can be organized around a disciplinary field of interest, like music or philosophy, or around a thematic interest, like Chinese culture.

Students conclude their HUA Requirement with an Inquiry Seminar or Practicum in the area of depth. As an alternative to the breadth component, students can take six sequential foreign language courses in German or Spanish, culminating in a seminar or practicum. Learn more…

Planning Your Course Sequence

Proper planning is essential to creating a course sequence that best fulfills the HUA requirement. Contacting HUA professors in your areas of interest early in your WPI career is strongly advised to see what courses they suggest as preparation for Inquiry Seminars/Practicums they teach. Learn more… 

Foreign Languages

Students may satisfy the HUA requirement in German or Spanish by taking a six-course sequence in either language that culminates in an advanced literature, language, or culture course approved as an Inquiry Seminar. Learn more…

Students wishing to satisfy the HUA requirement with Arabic or Chinese courses must meet breadth and depth requirements and finish the requirement with an Inquiry Seminar (HU3900) or Practicum (HU3910). Consult the current list and descriptions of  2014-2015 Inquiry Seminars and Practicums (.pdf, 587kb), being sure to check multiple disciplines for seminars or practicums that could build on your coursework in Arabic or Chinese. You may also view more detailed information on designing an HUA sequence that emphasizes Arabic (.pdf, 415kb) or Chinese (.pdf, 412kb).

Register for an Inquiry Seminar or Practicum

To register for an Inquiry Seminar (HU3900 Inquiry Seminar in Humanities and Arts) or Practicum (HU3910 Humanities and Arts Practicum) contact the instructor directly to inform them of your interest; if your preparation is adequate and there’s room in the course, the instructor will register you. Each seminar or practicum is limited to 12 students. Registration for Inquiry Seminars and Practicums is not done by the student via the usual course registration process.

When consulting the instructor, please have a list of the five HUA courses planned or taken before the seminar or practicum, ensuring the following:

  • At least one of these courses is not in the depth discipline.
  • At least three of these courses are in the area or discipline of the Inquiry Seminar or Practicum.
  • At least one of the courses in the area or discipline of the Inquiry Seminar or Practicum is at the 2000 level or higher.
  • An Inquiry Seminar or Practicum has not already been taken, as these courses are intended to be taken only once.

To ensure you get into your seminar of choice, plan in advance to find out which seminars and practicums are offered, when each seminar/practicum is scheduled, and who is teaching the seminar or practicum, as well as discussing your course selections with your academic advisor.

In addition, you may consult the current descriptions of 2014-2015 Inquiry Seminars and Practicums and the 2015/2016 Inquiry Seminar and Practicums. The HUA department updates the listing every C-term for the following academic year. The registration form can be found here (.pdf, 4.2mb)HUA brochure

Using the Requirement to Prepare for off-Campus IQPs

Thinking of Going Off Campus for IQP?  Have you thought of Humanities and Arts courses to help prepare you? What about designing a related project for your Inquiry Seminar? Or a minor in International Studies or American Studies? Opportunities in HUA

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