Introducing… Applied Humanities Seminar

I’m not sure exactly what it will look like given Minnesota’s current COVID numbers, but three weeks from today begins the 2021-22 academic year at Bethel University. This fall I’m teaching two courses I’ve taught many times before — our first-year GES130 Christianity and Western Culture survey and my third-year course HIS354 Modern Europe — and one that’s making its debut: HIS/PHI/POS491 Applied Humanities Seminar.

As I explained earlier this summer, History has merged with Philosophy and Political Science to form a new, rather large department that shares several programs: majors and minors in our core disciplines, plus interdisciplinary majors in Business & Political Science, Digital Humanities, International Relations, and Social Studies Education 5-12 (and a minor in Gender Studies). While we’re largely leaving those programs intact for the time being, we thought that a good way to start living into our merged identity would be to create a shared capstone course that concludes our majors.

(All save Social Studies Ed, whose students finish with a student-teaching semester. In Digital Humanities, students can either complete an internship or the new seminar.)

What we came up with is a multidisciplinary research seminar that will be taught both fall and spring, with faculty in our different disciplines taking turns leading the capstone. I’ll kick things off this fall, philosopher Sara Shady will take over in the spring, and we’ll hope to start integrating political scientists into the rotation in 2022-23. But whichever professor is facilitating the seminar, we’ll bring together students from different programs to draw on multiple disciplines to study a major contemporary issue: democracy next spring; and healthcare this fall.

To help me gear up for the first night of class, I’ll plan to write at least a couple more posts this month about the notion of “applied humanities” and my choice of health care for the fall. In the meantime, I thought I’d share the current draft of the syllabus, so you can start to get some sense of what we have in mind.

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