Human Sciences: Making Theory Practical
(Our name has changed--find out why here.)
The aim of Human and Social Sciences (HUSC) is to cultivate in students a productive,
philosophically- and historically-informed understanding of the world of the twenty-first
century. We draw upon disciplines like anthropology, sociology, social psychology,
linguistics, and social studies of science that have developed concepts essential
for understanding the differences between traditional and modern cultures and societies.
HUSC students learn how to apply broad-based theories learned in their classes to
real-world issues currently being faced by contemporary societies.
The HUSC program is centered on the following three components:
What is it to be human, and where and how do human beings thrive? Addressing those
questions is the heart of the program in Human and Social Sciences.
You might expect that answers to the questions need to come from, say,
the philosophy or the theology or the psychology or the politics departments, on the
one hand, and the biology department on the other. All of them, and others as well,
have a great deal to say about the fundamental questions of being human. They also
say different things: human beings are rational animals, made in the image and likeness of God,
affective, desiring, and meaning-seeking animals, political and valuing animals, only
animals (albeit of a distinctive type). It is, unfortunately, not immediately clear
how to reconcile these divergent answers. Things get all the more complicated when
one adds answers given by modern social and behavioral sciences like sociology, anthropology,
economics, cognitive science, animal psychology, linguistics, etc., etc., etc. Is
it left to each undergraduate (and human being!) to puzzle out matters for him- or
herself? If you want a thoughtful response, come join us in Human and Social Sciences
to think about them together.
What are the institutions, structures, and practices that encourage change? What resources
exist within contemporary societies to foster, to resist, and to adapt to change?
Can a heritage or tradition be preserved in the face of unfettered dynamism? To what
degree can we understand the forces and processes at work in the contemporary world,
and how far can we guide our practice by what we learn of them? In light of the great
Western traditions of learning, culture, and Christian belief, how can we productively
and creatively address the impending future? These are the kinds of questions that
are addressed by the concentration in Human and Social Sciences.
Students have the opportunity to explore these questions through their
own guided research project(s). Students can develop practical skills in research
design, interviewing, and data analysis. Previous research projects have addressed
food insecurity in South Dallas, experiences of loneliness in college dorms, understandings
of the word “ghetto”, body image and religiosity, and representations of mental illness
among Latinos in film.
A major goal of the HUSC program is to counteract the divisive force of intellectual
overspecialization and compartmentalization by drawing on all the social and behavioral
sciences, as well as appropriate humanities and scientific disciplines, in order to
understand the constitution of human meaning.
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