The following courses have been created and sequenced to form an integrated program of study. Later courses build on earlier ones to provide a powerful, cumulative learning experience.

Course List (11 courses, 33 units)

  • HUMA 501: Gateway to the Humanities
  • HUMA 510: The Sacred: What Is It? What Makes Us Seek It? (3 units)
  • HUMA 520: Self: Body and Mind: Who Are You? How Do You Know? (3 units)
  • HUMA 530: Family and Life Cycles: The Nature of Connections Among Individuals (3 units)
  • HUMA 600: Identity, Meaning and Culture (3 units)
  • HUMA 610: Space, Place and Geography: How Where (We Think) We Are Defines Who We Are (3 units)
  • HUMA 630: Nation and Empire, Law and Government (3 units)
  • HUMA 620: Science and Magic: The Varied Modes of Knowing and Believing (3 units)
  • HUMA 640: Norms and Knowledge: How Ideas Define the World (3 units)
  • HUMA 650: Capstone: The Good Life (3 units)
  • HUMA 697: Directed Comprehensive Studies (3 units)

 

Course Highlights

COURSE NAME UNITs DESCRIPTION
HUMA 501 Gateway to the Humanities

3 units

This course provides an advanced-level overview of the humanities and the diverse foundations of our shared intellectual heritage. Through analytic reading and guided discussion, participants explore the disciplinary knowledge, modes of inquiry and core ideas of the humanities. Participants also learn how each discipline within the humanities is defined, how various traditions of study and reflection allow essential ideas to shape lives and modes of thought, and how the traditions within the humanities have evolved across time and cultures.
HUMA 510 The Sacred: What Is It? What Makes Us Seek It?

3 units

This course examines and critiques the notion of the "sacred" in different cultural contexts and from distinct and varied perspectives, including those of writers such as Mary Daly, William James, Carl Jung and Paul Tillich. Participants investigate historical and cross-cultural efforts to institutionalize the sacred through symbols, myths, rituals and physical spaces that influence people's lives and choices. The course also examines two conflicting present-day trends: namely, efforts to recover a more authentic sacred by cutting loose from institutional religion versus efforts to use institutional religion as a foundation for revolutionary social change. Both trends are influencing political and cultural contexts within and across national boundaries today in ways that are important for all who live and work in the interconnected global economy to understand.
HUMA 520 Self: Body and Mind: Who Are You? How Do You Know?

3 units

Across all cultures, beliefs and times, people have grappled with the nature of human existence. The dilemma of being both finite and conscious presents a wide range of challenges that have occupied the thoughts of philosophers, theologians, writers, social theorists and others. This course introduces participants to the history of ideas that focus on the study of ourselves, our bodies and our minds – from the writings of René Descartes to Sigmund Freud to Michel Foucault and beyond. Participants will consider different cultural conceptualizations of body and mind as well as the changing ways we perceive the relationship between these two fundamental and intricately connected aspects of the self.
HUMA 530 Family and Life Cycles: The Nature of Connections Among Individuals

3 units

Through the lenses of literature, art, philosophy, history and popular culture, participants explore the nature and place of family and the human life cycle in the individual's formation of a sense of self, an identity, personal values and an understanding of life's purpose across different cultural traditions. The course will also examine the extent to which these aspects of our humanity are cultural constructs that vary according to historical time and geographic location. Participants read and discuss the ideas of Stephanie Coontz, Emile Durkheim and Friedrich Engels, among others, and study portrayals of families in fiction, poetry and film.
HUMA 600 Identity, Meaning and Culture

3 units

Culture produces ideas, and ideas are the foundation of power, purpose, and the struggle for control. Indeed, the major conflicts among civilizations – right up to the 20th and 21st centuries – have been most often rooted in clashes of ideas and the ideologies they engender. Considering and examining cultures as structures built of contending ideas that both influence and are influenced by historical contingencies allows participants to build an understanding of how culture creates meaning and shapes how we see the world and act in it. Drawing on the ideas of a wide range of thinkers – such as Theodor Adorno, Sigmund Freud, Henry Louis Gates, Arundhati Roy and Edward Said – this course also considers excerpts from literature, films and studies of various cultures and ethnic groups.
HUMA 610 Space, Place and Geography: How Where (We Think) We Are Defines Who We Are

3 units

This course explores how conceptualizations of space and place have contributed to different cultural understandings of the human condition. From Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem, “The Divine Comedy,” to films such as "The Matrix," and contemporary novels by William Gibson (“Neuromancer”) and Salman Rushdie (“Shalimar the Clown”), as well as to “virtual worlds,” such as Second Life, this course looks at the concepts underlying the creation and representation of space and the role of landscape/environment in determining the human condition. Participants also carefully analyze and reflect on the ways that differing ideas about space, place and the use and control of land have led to conflicts within and between societies.
HUMA 630 Nation and Empire, Law and Government

3 units

This course examines the formation of the modern nation-state and focuses in particular on how these states are constructed, represented and understood through art, literature and philosophical critique. Within the past century, shifts in national boundaries, conflicts between ethnic heritage and national identity, and struggles between nations for resources and control have affected and continue to affect countless millions of lives. Course participants will critically evaluate the influence of the modern nation-state on other societies with particular attention to colonialism, imperialism, patriotism and globalization. The course concludes with a discussion of precursors, successors and alternatives to the nation-state, based on readings from historic thinkers such as Hugo Grotius, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke to more contemporary analysts, including Eduardo Galeano, Clifford Geertz and Edward Said.
HUMA 620 Science and Magic: The Varied Modes of Knowing and Believing

3 units

This course focuses on the distinctions in different times and cultures between what is defined as "science" and what is seen as "magic." It rigorously traces such thinking from as far back as written text permits and looks to the observations and analyses of contemporary thinkers and writers who examine such boundaries. Participants consider the different modes of human inquiry and discovery as well as the interplay between knowing and believing. Throughout today's world, we find conflict between modes of knowing based on belief and modes of knowing linked to contemporary scientific methods of inquiry and evidence. Participants also explore how such divisions originate and operate within and across cultures and how such apparently rigid and divisive boundaries can shift in both cultural and individual contexts.
HUMA 640

Norms and Knowledge: How Ideas Define the World

3 units

This course delves into knowledge, norms and values (i.e., the nature of epistemologies) as they are represented in philosophy, literature, religion and cultural studies. Using texts from René Descartes, Robert Borofsky, Michel Foucault, Carol Gilligan and others, participants closely examine the development and transformation of these norms across time and between cultures, as well as through different forms of representation. The purpose of this exploration is to discover and appreciate how knowledge is not only defined and constructed but also characterized, configured and reconfigured by social groups, institutions and individual thinkers, including artists.
HUMA 650 Capstone: The Good Life

3 units

The program's final course has its foundation in Socrates' most famous dictum: "The unexamined life is not worth living." Participants will both draw on the preceding courses and consider new readings to develop a thoughtfully conceived description of what constitutes a good life. Using readings from great historical philosophers (e.g., Aristotle, Plato, Confucius, and Nietzsche) as well as the works of more modern literary figures (e.g., William Blake, William Butler Yeats, Bertolt Brecht, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Zadie Smith, and Arundhati Roy), participants investigate and reflect on the following questions: How do we know what it is to be a good person or to lead a good life? Why do notions of what constitutes a good life seem to vary so much across time and cultures? Why is this seemingly essential notion so elusive when carefully considered? What effect does this elusiveness have on how each of us chooses to live? The emphasis will be on the role (s) that particular worldviews (especially those identified by the participants as their own) play in shaping both what we deem to be the good life and the means that each of us considers appropriate for its attainment.
HUMA 697 Directed Comprehensive Studies

3 units

Prerequisite: Graduate standing. Comprehensives are completed during or following the semester in which students complete all of the requirements for the degree. Here, students will work toward the completion of the comprehensive experience, which will be developed with the teaching faculty. (Credit/No Credit only)