Keeping the humanities and arts at the center of the curriculum is an issue at big universities and small colleges across the U.S. Even at humanities-oriented liberal arts colleges such as Vassar, where I teach, student interest and campus resources have tilted towards STEM fields. WPI seems set up especially well to handle this challenge, for the curriculum and ethos already require interdisciplinarity. More than most universities, WPI articulates well how interdisciplinary, project-based work leads to innovation, creativity and useful real-world outcomes. The new department head of HUA should continue to advance the argument that the humanities and arts bring crucial skills to all students at WPI -- creative problem solving, critical thinking, thoughtful self-expression, deep learning, and public speaking. The new department head also should focus on such matters as 1) continuing to build an inclusive and diverse community of students and faculty; 2) considering ways to build the department and make sure it remains at the center of WPI’s strategic plan for development, and 3) finding new ways to use the Humanities and Arts to open up conversations on campus about topics such as justice, race, gender, sexuality, values, equality, citizenship and global citizenship. I’ll look forward to sharing specifics on these ideas and others during my presentation at WPI.
Save the date.