President of the college, Shirley Mullen, will teach a cross disciplinary humanities class next semester. According to Mullen, her course will fulfill a Humanities 101 requirement, which seeks to foster “critical thinking, character, creativity, communication and citizenship or community building.”
With the recent changes to the integrative studies (IS) requirements the introduction of a few new courses to make fulfilling the requirements easier on students, according to Provost Jack Connell. These include new, low credit science courses and three general humanities courses, Connell disclosed at a Student Government (SGA) meeting earlier this month.
Overall, Mullen said she believes the new IS requirements will help Houghton realize its mission statement of academic rigor while making the school welcoming to transfer students.
Professor of English and Director of IS requirements, Susan Bruxvoort- Lipscomb, said, “[Mullen is] absolutely the best qualified person in the college to teach [Humanities 101] because she has two PhDs. She has a PhD in history and in philosophy. Those are two of the disciplines [covered in the course], so she was excited about teaching this course.”
Mullen said she hoped “students would come away from the class with a larger understanding of what it means to be human, both in the sense of being made in the Image of God, and in the sense of being part of a centuries-long global conversation about the meaning and purpose of our lives.”
The course is intended to fulfill general education requirements for first year or transfer students, but can be taken as an elective by upper-level students, Connell said. Mullen stated, “Whatever one decides to major in or work at, a Christian liberal arts education should prepare one to be more fully human, as God intended us to be, in that major or in that occupation. A class in the humanities also helps one to identify those human traits that transcend culture, gender, economic status, etc. and how that ‘humanness’ can then be enriched by an understanding of the rich diversity that exists within the human community.”
Lipscomb said Mullen was approached about teaching the course partly because “there has been some retirements in the history department and the college has decided to delay for one year hiring in history.” She continued, “There was an opportunity. We needed someone to teach this course and we thought of her as someone who was a great teacher in Westmont and has had a great career in teaching and super qualified to do this. We approached her and asked her is she’d be interested.”
Included already in the course offerings for fall of 2017 are also new science courses that are more conducive to fulfilling general education requirements. Lipscomb described them as “two hour courses” with the accompanying lab “built into the time so you don’t have to go to a separate lab time.” According to the 2017-2018 course catalog, there will be the options of Science as a Human Endeavor: Cosmology and Science and Society: Nuclear Age taught by professors of physics Kurt Aikens and Mark Yuly.