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.

For more information on department sponsored events, student achievements, and human science job announcements, subscribe to our blog here.

News

The Idea of Our University

To found the famous Core curriculum of the University of Dallas, as an education "best for the individual," Donald and Louise Cowan looked to John Henry Newman's The Idea of a University. He unapologetically promotes the Western classics -- precisely because so few know our own culture well enough to appreciate the depth of any other.

+ Read More

To Russia with UD: Faculty to Lead UD's First Tour of Russia

This summer, the University of Dallas invites students, alumni, faculty and staff to join its first-ever tour abroad of Russia, led by Professor of Physics Richard Olenick and Affiliate Instructor of Spanish, French and Italian Irina Rodriguez. From June 8 to June 16, 2020, Olenick and Rodriguez will guide participants through the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, taking them on a cultural and literary tour of the "Russian soul."

+ Read More

Cowan-Blakley Memorial Library Showcases Rare Books Room

No longer relegated to the damp lower level, the Cowan-Blakley Memorial Library's Rare Books Room has for the past two years occupied a prime spot on the second floor, where there used to be study carrels. The room, made of glass walls, is normally locked and only opened by appointment, but on Sept. 26, the library hosted an open house for faculty and staff to come and examine these treasures.

+ Read More