Public Affairs, The California State University

Humanities Making Global Connections

By Stephanie Thara

Humanities The study of literature makes the words of Shakespeare come to life. Philosophy provides a gateway to understanding the human existence. Religious Studies offer an integrated approach to understanding world cultures. Whether it is studying the classics, culture or history, the disciplines of humanities across the CSU give students the cross cultural and interdisciplinary foundation that enables them to excel in any profession.

CSU faculty are dedicated to helping students understand the different nationalities, cultures and perspectives that make up the world. Faculty members center their classes on activities that will expand a student’s critical thinking, reading and writing skills, as well as help them develop new skills. The Alternative Chicano Press class at CSU Northridge, which is part of one of the largest Chicano/a Studies Departments in the nation, gives students the practice they need to effectively use multimedia to tell the stories of community members. Professors inspire students to analyze and discuss the role of Chicanos/as in the mass media, and then teach them how to plan, write, edit, design and publish an alternative newspaper.

“What sets our faculty apart is that they are leaders in their own field of study, have deep ties within the community and reflect the diversity of our students,” said Elizabeth A. Say, dean of the College of Humanities at CSUN. “They provide students with the skill set they need to succeed in a globalized world.”

Humanities Making Global ConnectionsIn addition to encouraging students to broaden their international horizons by participating in study abroad, student exchange programs or global internships, professors lead local excursions that benefit the community and give students the hands on experience they need to deepen their cross-cultural experience.

CSU Monterey Bay professors and students will help plan and design three public programs for a future museum in order to help preserve the Asian cultural experience and historical Salinas Chinatown. CSUMB faculty will enlist the help of students to create a core historical exhibition for the future museum, develop a virtual oral history walking tour of Chinatown and compile a series of intercultural dialogues from the Chinatown community.

Additionally, campuses maintain centers that provide the local community with the opportunity to engage intellectually and professionally with students studying a humanities discipline. The Center for Comparative Philosophy at San José State, the first organized research center for comparative philosophy in the nation, aims at promoting research in comparative philosophy by sponsoring lecture series, organizing workshops and conferences and coordinating international academic partnerships. The Humanities Center at Chico State hosts forums, panels, guest speakers, film series and symposiums in order to foster an understanding and appreciation of the humanities and support community education. Cal State Fullerton’s Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine hosts a monthly colloquium series that sparks discussions about topics such as transnational social science, the history of evolution theories and the psychological effects of natural disasters.

Campus centers also spearhead initiatives that assist humanities majors in entering the workforce. CSU San Marcos’ Career Readiness Initiative focuses on increasing the number of diverse internships available to students, preparing faculty and staff to help students apply what they learn in the classroom to their careers and pairing regional professionals with students to serve as mentors.

“Students come and study humanities to learn how to work in a diverse setting,” said Say. “When they graduate, they leave with tools that help them adapt to a rapidly changing world and can now better understand the challenges and joy of living in this kind of environment.”