Doane announces new Integrated Humanities Certificate program

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

Doane University is excited to announce it has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create a Certificate in Integrated Humanities. This innovative program is scheduled to launch in Spring 2021.

Doane is one of four universities to be awarded an implementation grant from the Humanities Connections program, which seeks to expand the role of the humanities in undergraduate education at two- and four-year institutions. These awards support innovative curricular partnerships between humanities faculty and their colleagues in the social and natural sciences, which will encourage and develop new integrative learning opportunities for students in pre-service or professional programs.

The $100,000 implementation grant received from the NEH comes two years after Doane received a $35,000 planning grant, which supported the design of the new Integrated Humanities program, that complements the broad function of the undergraduate curriculum in the College of Arts & Sciences, known as the Doane Core Connections.

As part of this program, Doane will offer three pathways for students to pursue when choosing their general education curriculum: “Opioids and Addiction,” “Fear in the Present Age,” and “Medicine in America.” For the first pathway, “Opioids and Addiction,” modified courses in English, Biology, and Psychology will explore the topic through their particular lenses.

The concept introduces one new, interdisciplinary team-taught course to each pathway. For the Opioids and Addiction pathway, for example, an English professor and a Biology professor will each be teaching one eight-week session of the course. The English professor will discuss journalism that uncovered the opioid crisis, advertising of opioids, marketing, communication, etc. while the science professor will discuss opioids from the pharmacology, biology of addiction, and psychology of addiction perspective. Students will also enroll in linked sections of Introduction to Psychology and Introduction to Biology, which will explore the topic from their particular perspective.

Katy Hanggi, associate professor of English, and Brad Johnson, professor of English, are the lead faculty members driving this project.

“This is a way to rethink gen-ed that addresses students’ professional interests,” Hanggi says. “We have created an intentionally-bundled sequence of courses that tackle an interdisciplinary problem that is usually studied from the sciences but now adds a humanities and liberal arts perspective.”

“Through the Integrated Humanities pathways, students will experience more directly how disciplines operate in concert with each other,” Johnson says. “They will see why the empathy one finds in storytelling has such powerful practical use for a physician, or how a biologist’s understanding of addiction provides such important context for the psychologist who is treating it. In short, students will understand that being ‘well rounded’ through the liberal arts is just a start. They will discover that the direct application of the liberal arts to their pre-professional studies will transform their understanding and make them more attractive candidates for graduate school and employment.”

Although the Certificate in Integrated Humanities is open to all students on Doane’s Crete campus, these courses are designed primarily for students planning to go into physical and mental health professions. To receive the certificate, students will take three designated courses in the core curriculum, plus a 1-credit capstone course where students design their project based on their courses and post-graduation plans.

The grant also enables Doane to work with community partners, both through experiential learning and programming public events pertaining to the topic. These partnerships will offer opportunities for Doane students to meet and learn from professionals in the field in which they plan to work.

“We think the integrated, bundled nature of the courses will appeal to incoming students because they are designed with their careers in mind,” Hanggi said. “This project offers an innovative, new way for colleges and universities to connect general education to students’ lives while maintaining the strong humanities and liberal arts foundation Doane is known for.

The Doane Core Curriculum is currently 30 credits (including LAR sequence), divided up by categories (rhetorical communication, global and cultural context, scientific inquiry, for example). The hope with this new model is that the courses will better prepare students for the next step in their life after graduating from Doane while also increasing their marketability.

“Students will get a professional education geared with a professional goal (at Doane) but they’re also exploring what it means to be a human being within that context,” Johnson says. “That will not just make them more employable; it will make them better people.”