Seattle University Core History and Literature


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Petitioning: The Core Curriculum Review Committee and Provost

Petitioner: George Bayuga started on February 23, 2011

We, the undersigned members of the Seattle University community, maintain that history and literature classes should be explicitly required in the core curriculum. While we understand that the Seattle University is moving toward an outcomes based education, this does not necessitate making history or literature optional courses among the category of the Humanities. History provides essential methods for students to effectively engage in critical thinking and civic life. Literature, which encompasses all popular expressions of public values and discourse, teaches essential analytical tools for understanding societies in the past and present.

They are both necessary for several reasons:

• The project of validating and encouraging the value of a liberal arts education suffers because students may avoid traditional humanities disciplines such as history and literature.
• State regulated history and social science classes in secondary school often fail to convey the diversity of history and ideology necessary to effectively engage in domestic and global affairs. History in higher education is often the first place where students experience free historical discourse not influenced by state legislation.
• Literature encourages exploration and understanding of the written and expressed word unlike any other discipline in secondary or higher education. Exposure to substantive literature provides solid models for future writing in any discipline.
• History matters. History is not simply context. Students investigate the social, economic, and political forces, values, and ideas that have produced or inhibited historical change and conflict. Students firmly grounded in history are better able to understand the roles played by human beings, individually and collectively, in bringing about change.
• History is fundamental to creating an educated citizenry. The study of history helps students to understand themselves and to identify trends in human behaviour, with the hopes of “learning from the past.” The study of history promotes diversity in that it challenges students to understand peoples unlike themselves.
• The study of literature is directly in line with the university's adamant focus on diversity. Literature is cultural expression that encompasses visual art, film, poetry, prose, and criticism, and acceptance and compassion stem from one’s ability to appreciate and understand these expressions.
• History is imbedded in and shapes the present, so that making sense of the present requires an historical perspective. The careful study of history gives students the ability to positively influence the world as active citizens who make informed and thoughtful decisions on public issues, and guides them toward developing more ethical and meaningful personal lives.
• If a student is to be critical, reflective, and informed about the ideas and values that she or he holds, then it is necessary to understand the origin and nature of these ideas and values. To educate the whole person, education must be holistic. As basic and essential elements of traditional Jesuit education, history and literature are pillars of analytical reasoning and understanding.
• The prestige of this university is at risk with the elimination of explicit requirements for history and literature. Ending history and literature requirements leaves students less prepared to engage civic, social, and professional environments. Regardless of what field students choose to enter, they will likely encounter situations where they must possess broad historical perspectives and the ability to engage in textual criticism. Without exposure to these disciplines students are prepared.