Integral to the WPI Plan, the university’s signature approach to undergraduate education, the Humanities & Arts Department plays a considerable role in each student’s journey here.   

The aim is to educate well-rounded, globally aware graduates with exceptional analytical skills and sensitivity to culture and context. The way is to offer a major, minors, concentrations, courses, and a required immersive experience. The result is that all WPI undergraduates get a chance to embrace their inner musician, thespian, poet, artist, linguist, or philosopher.

Degrees & Certificates

Area of Study Bachelor Minor Certificate Master PhD
Why study the humanities when there is work to be done? Because this is where the nuance is, and maybe this is where the real information is.
Professor Frederick W. Bianchi
The humanities and arts gives you the reassurance that other people have asked the same questions in various ways since human beings first appeared on the Earth.
Professor Wesley T. Mott
I do believe that the study of music of other cultures does help give us insights into the culture. Music can transcend barriers between cultures, between governments, between different backgrounds.
Teaching Professor Douglas G. Weeks
One of the wonderful things about art is that it can create things that don’t exist in the real world, and that maybe don’t exist yet – it has a visionary quality that in some ways can lay the groundwork for things to come.
Associate Professor Joshua Rosenstock
Poetry teaches us how to ask questions about ourselves, our lives, about other lives. How have other people loved, hoped, dreamed, struggled; how they met their obligations or failed to; what legacy have they left.
Associate Professor James Cocola
Sometimes it’s just a matter of learning that we are not alone.
Professor Kristin Boudreau, Department Head

The Showcase

A recent production from Masque, WPI's main theatre group, combined over 20 excerpts of plays with LGBTQ+ themes that were performed at past New Voices festivals into The Showcase, which celebrated the inclusivity of WPI's campus. According to co-dramaturg Katelyne Sibley, the play is "trying to normalize being different instead of thinking about normal as meaning everyone is the same.”

Where Creativity and Expression Meet

New Voices is the nation’s longest continuously running collegiate new and original play festival. Since 1982 the festival has featured performances of original, unpublished scripts from the WPI community. In 2006, New Voices became established in the Little Theatre, the university’s first dedicated theatrical space—an intimate 99-seat black-box-style facility.

Humanities & Arts Requirement

All WPI students complete the Humanities & Arts requirement. The goal is for every student to graduate with a broader perspective than that provided solely by the study of science and technology. Students will be exposed to art, theatre, music, and other forms of creative expression by completing six courses—including a seminar or practicum requirement—of their choice.

Joel J. Brattin

Joel J. Brattin

Professor of English
Humanities & Arts

Born in Michigan in 1956, I graduated from the University of Michigan in 1978, earning my PhD at Stanford University in 1985. I have enjoyed teaching British literature at WPI since 1990. I like the intelligence and good work ethic of WPI students; I especially enjoy the opportunity to meet and interact with students in small groups and on an individual basis. The bulk of my scholarly work falls into three principal areas.

Joseph Cullon

Joseph F. Cullon

Associate Teaching Professor
Humanities and Arts

One of Professor Cullon's students recently called him "strangely fascinating." He knew that he was strange but he was happy to learn that a student found his approach to teaching fascinating. He likes to encourage students to see history not as a mass of dead facts but as a vital mode of inquiry and a moral project that has the potential to inform the present as much as illuminate the past.

Ruth L. Smith

Ruth Lynette Smith

Associate Professor
Humanities & Arts

Ruth Smith works in the Philosophy and Religion group in the Humanities and Arts Department at WPI, and is also affiliated with Rhetoric and Writing programs. Interests in linguistics have shaped her attention to moral theories and practices as questions of grammar, taken as how we make ways around in the stream of life, yes, fragments of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Simone Weil.

Susan Vick

Susan Vick

Prof Drama/Theatre & Dir Theatre
Humanities & Arts

Susan Vick, professor of Drama/Theatre and director of theatre, directs the academic theatre programs at WPI, including artistic leadership of major productions and projects performed in the Little Theatre. Vick works as the executive dramaturg and founder for New Voices, an annual festival of original plays now in its 35th year and the longest-running collegiate new play festival. A published and produced playwright, she has also worked as a professional actress and director and holds memberships in the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and the Dramatists Guild.


A Short Comic History of the WPI Plan

Cornelius Malone: A Poem for WPI's Sesquicentennial

Music, Technology, and Robotics

WPI students and faculty go behind the boards and combine robotics with music for impressive results.

Explore Music Technology at WPI

Career Opportunities

The skills that students acquire in the Humanities & Arts (HUA) program provide them with a distinct advantage in their chosen fields, which range from careers in environmental studies and public health to writing and performing. For more information on how students put their talents to use after graduation, see the career outlook for HUA graduates.

Facts & Figures


of undergraduates 

complete the equivalent of a minor in Humanities & Arts
1 of 50

Colleges that Create Futures 

The Princeton Review (2016)

Media Coverage

In this front-page article, the Telegram & Gazette interviewed and photographed English Professor and internationally renowned Hendrix expert Joel Brattin. “When Hendrix’s guitar sings ‘bombs bursting in air,’ you hear not only the bombs, but you hear the cries of agony of the people on the ground who are experiencing those bombs,” Brattin told the T&G. “There’s a strong amount of political content, even if it’s nonverbal.” logo

This Inside Higher Ed article featured work by WPI faculty and administration to clarify the university’s faculty promotion guidelines to better support associate professors and offer options that go beyond traditional research paths.

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