The Humanities pursue the study of the human experience, past and present, encompassing the study of history and art history, languages and literatures, philosophy, religion, and visual and dramatic arts. The pursuit of the Humanities trains students in critical analysis, interpretation and argument, analytical writing, and oral presentation, in individual and collaborative undertakings. Students investigate how societies, cultures, human values, and everyday experiences have been transformed, represented, and remembered over time. They do so through the exploration of ethics, morality, cognition, and creativity; the critical and comparative study of world cultures through religion, art, literature, and languages; the study of change, continuity, and conflict, and the consideration of how social, racial, gender, sexual and ethnic differences have shaped human experience in past and present times.
Humanities students graduate as agile, critical thinkers with highly developed analytical writing and argumentative skills. They have learned both to probe the big questions and develop the analytical and interpretive skills to answer them. The Humanities prepare students for any profession, including medicine, law, business, media and communications, and non-profit organizations. Humanities students earn praise for their ability to adapt to an ever-changing job market: their skills are flexible, collaborative, and interpretive. Recent studies have made clear that employers in many different sectors, including business and finance, Silicon Valley tech start-ups, and media and communications, place a high value on precisely these capacities. The School of Humanities encourages students to hone these skills in and out of the classroom—through faculty-supervised research, an array of internship programs, travel abroad components for selected courses, and summer language courses taught abroad.
The School of Humanities offers a wide range of undergraduate majors and interdisciplinary minors and certificates and five PhD programs. Our courses are taught by faculty who are distinguished through their innovative research, inspired teaching, and their high level of engagement with students. Ninety-two percent of Humanities courses have fewer than 20 students enrolled (with an average of 13 students enrolled in undergraduate classes) and students rank our Humanities faculty among the best in university. The School of Humanities offers state-of-the-art research facilities that foster creative approaches to today’s difficult issues. The courses offered in the Humanities represent eight departments: Philosophy, Religion, English, Visual and Dramatic Arts, History, History of Art, Classics and European Studies, and Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American studies. Humanities also includes five interdisciplinary centers that offer majors, minors, and graduate certificates of their own. Undergraduate students can choose among interdisciplinary majors in the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality; in Asian Studies; in Medieval and Early Modern Studies; and Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations—and minors in Medical Humanities; Politics, Law and Social Thought; Jewish Studies; Museums and Cultural Heritage; Poverty, Justice and Human Capabilities; Cinema and Media Studies; and African Studies. The Center for Languages and Intercultural Communication offers instruction in eleven languages, including summer courses “in country.” The interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center serves faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates through its lectures and symposia, undergraduate minors and courses, and its research support for faculty and students, including a Public Humanities program that connects Rice graduate and undergraduate students with the Texas Medical Center and the Houston museums. Interdisciplinary graduate certificates are offered by the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality and the Center for Critical and Cultural Theory.
The School of Humanities encourages and equips students to analyze, engage and contribute to the world they inhabit. The city of Houston provides a rich and diverse landscape of museums and performing arts, a world-class center of medical research and treatment, a network of social service organizations, and is home to a thriving energy industry and finance sector, each of which offer Humanities students opportunities to have a transformative impact on their world.
Dean of Humanities
Andrew Mellon Professor, Department of History