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Human and Social Sciences

Human Sciences: Making Theory Practical

(Our name has changed--find out why here.)

The aim of Human and Social Sciences (HUSC) is to cultivate in students a productive, philosophically- and historically-informed understanding of the world of the twenty-first century. We draw upon disciplines like anthropology, sociology, social psychology, linguistics, and social studies of science that have developed concepts essential for understanding the differences between traditional and modern cultures and societies. HUSC students learn how to apply broad-based theories learned in their classes to real-world issues currently being faced by contemporary societies.

The HUSC program is centered on the following three components:

Theory

What is it to be human, and where and how do human beings thrive? Addressing those questions is the heart of the program in Human and Social Sciences.

            You might expect that answers to the questions need to come from, say, the philosophy or the theology or the psychology or the politics departments, on the one hand, and the biology department on the other. All of them, and others as well, have a great deal to say about the fundamental questions of being human. They also say different things: human beings are rational animals, made in the image and likeness of God, affective, desiring, and meaning-seeking animals, political and valuing animals, only animals (albeit of a distinctive type). It is, unfortunately, not immediately clear how to reconcile these divergent answers. Things get all the more complicated when one adds answers given by modern social and behavioral sciences like sociology, anthropology, economics, cognitive science, animal psychology, linguistics, etc., etc., etc. Is it left to each undergraduate (and human being!) to puzzle out matters for him- or herself? If you want a thoughtful response, come join us in Human and Social Sciences to think about them together.

Practical Research

What are the institutions, structures, and practices that encourage change? What resources exist within contemporary societies to foster, to resist, and to adapt to change? Can a heritage or tradition be preserved in the face of unfettered dynamism? To what degree can we understand the forces and processes at work in the contemporary world, and how far can we guide our practice by what we learn of them? In light of the great Western traditions of learning, culture, and Christian belief, how can we productively and creatively address the impending future? These are the kinds of questions that are addressed by the concentration and the major in Human and Social Sciences.

            Each student will have the opportunity to explore these questions through their own guided research project(s). Students develop practical skills in research design, interviewing, and data analysis. Previous research projects have addressed food insecurity in South Dallas, experiences of loneliness in college dorms, understandings of the word “ghetto”, body image and religiosity, and representations of mental illness among Latinos in film.

Interdisciplinary Electives

A major goal of the HUSC program is to counteract the divisive force of intellectual overspecialization and compartmentalization by drawing on all the social and behavioral sciences, as well as appropriate humanities and scientific disciplines, in order to understand the constitution of human meaning.

            A unique component of the degree plan for HUSC majors is the interdisciplinary elective requirement. In conversation with their major advisor, HUSC students select up to 12 hours of electives that will help guide their thesis development.

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News

University Announces New Director of Civil Rights

The University of Dallas has announced a new director of civil rights, Luciana Milano. Milano, who has a Bachelor of Arts in government from Harvard College and a J.D. from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law, began her new role on Oct. 12.

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Donors Endow Philosophy Scholarship in St. John Henry Newman’s Name

“This is the first time we’ve had a scholarship in honor of a great Catholic intellectual — and now, within the last year, saint,” said President Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA ’82 MA ’83, by way of introducing the St. John Henry Newman Scholarship in Philosophy recently endowed by alumnus Matthew Hejduk, MA '98 PhD '06, and his wife, Julia Hejduk, Ph.D. Julia was a colleague of Hibbs during his time at Baylor University, where she teaches in the Classics Department.

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Former Teacher, MFA Alumna Explores Memory, Pursues Art Full Time

Michelle Cortez-Gonzales, MFA ’20, was a Fort Worth ISD high school teacher with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Texas at Arlington when she decided to go back to school to get her master’s. At the recommendation of a friend, she visited UD, and knew immediately from the wooded area around the Art Village, the architecture of the buildings, and the faculty members she met that UD was the place for her.

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