Certificate in Humanistic Studies

Humanistic Studies courses are designed to expose students in all fields to interdisciplinary inquiry in the humanities. Those who wish to pursue this approach in a more sustained way are invited to design a curriculum reflecting their specific interests leading to a certificate in interdisciplinary humanistic studies.

This new Program is designed for students who are concentrating in a humanities or related social science department and who wish to reflect on the frontiers of disciplines, the bridges that connect them, and the insights that can be gained from exploring one field while bearing in mind the questions and approaches of another. In addition to acquiring a strong base in their home departments, students in the Program create links to one or more fields that can illuminate their work. They also participate in a community of faculty, students, and fellows, who meet regularly for discussion, lectures, colloquia, meals and cultural activities.

Candidates for the Program must complete two interdisciplinary courses during their first two years. These might be: (1) HUM 216-217 or 218-219, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture; or (2) HUM 233-234, East Asian Humanities; or (3) two other equivalent courses that provide a rigorous interdisciplinary approach to the arts and culture over a span of historical time. (Applicants who seek to fulfill the pre-requisites through this third option must submit syllabi of the two courses for which they are requesting approval.) Students are normally admitted to the Program during the second semester of their sophomore year.

Plan of Study
In addition to the two prerequisites, students complete six additional courses, which may also be used to fulfill departmental requirements. Four of these six courses must be explicitly interdisciplinary in their approach and/or subject matter. The remaining two are chosen in consultation with the Program advisor to coordinate with the students' individual plan of study. In these courses, students are expected to forge their own interdisciplinary connections and pursue them in their written work. One of the six courses is an interdisciplinary capstone seminar created specifically for certificate students. Students in the Program must also complete either a senior thesis in their home department with an interdisciplinary focus or (if their thesis topic does not lend itself to an interdisciplinary approach) an interdisciplinary research paper written specifically for the Program.

Applicants to the Program are encouraged to reflect on the meaningful connections they wish to forge and to propose a curriculum for their junior and senior years that combines the requirements of their home departments with the pursuits that best complement their interests. These individual paths are likely to group into five major trajectories:

1. Bridges within the humanities and arts

Students on this path deepen their study of one particular partnership among the possible combinations of religion, philosophy, history, literature and the arts.

2. Bridges between the humanities and related social sciences

Students on this path focus on the intersections between a specific branch of the humanities and a neighboring field of anthropology, sociology or politics.

3. Intercultural studies

Students might illuminate their study of western culture with comparative approaches to other areas of the world, for example, or study one or more regions through different methodologies. In this pursuit, they might benefit from participating in global seminars or other opportunities for study abroad.

4. Bridges between the humanities and the sciences

These students, while concentrating in the humanities or social sciences, might explore links to cognitive science or other sciences.

5. Digital approaches to the humanities

Students in this group might create new kinds of knowledge by examining some field with the resources and insights of computer science.


HUM 470 - Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities
This team-taught seminar examines texts, objects, periods and themes from an interdisciplinary perspective. The specific topic varies each year depending on the focus of the faculty team. The topic for spring term 2013-2014 will be Exemplary Stories: Case Histories, team-taught by Professors Peter Brooks (Comparative Literature, Law and Public Policy) and Brigid Doherty (German, Art and Archaeology).

Senior Thesis Funding

The Humanities Council offers senior thesis research grants of up to $3000 to certificate students in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities. Research funds may be used to support travel and/or the purchase of books, supplies and materials needed to complete the senior thesis.  For summer funding and for the 2014 - 2015 academic year, certificate students will need to apply through the Student Activities Funding Engine (link is external) (SAFE).  You will need to upload a one-page research proposal, a detailed budget outlining the proposed usage of the funds and a letter of support written by your thesis advisor. 

Applications for summer will be accepted now through July 18.

Applications for the academic year will be accepted beginning September 1.

Students who are awarded funding for travel must do the following before funds will be released:  

•  Register their travel on the travel database (link is external) prior to receiving funding

•  Contact UHS/Travel Medicine and make an appointment well in advance of departure if traveling to a country which requires immunizations

•  Review thoroughly the information on the travel website (link is external) for undergraduate students

The University does not sponsor undergraduate travel to countries on the US State Department travel warning list (link is external). Students who have a compelling academic reason for traveling to a country on the State Department travel warning list may request consideration through the travel exemption process (link is external).


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E-mail: hum@princeton.edu
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