Core Humanities at the University of Nevada

“The ability to adapt and thrive in a world certain to keep changing is based not on instruction in the specific jobs of today but in the developing of long-term qualities of mind: inquisitiveness, perceptiveness, the ability to put received ideas to a new purpose, and the ability to share and build ideas with a diverse world of others.” — (Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, The Heart of the Matter (2013))


Core Humanities is an award-winning interdisciplinary program that forms the heart of the Core Curriculum at UNR. Faculty and graduate assistants from five different disciplines (English, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and World Languages and Literatures) participate in teaching the humanities courses required of all students at the university:

Collectively, these courses examine the history, philosophy, cultural values, political systems, literature, and artistic works that have shaped societies in every continent from ancient times to the present. After completing the Core Humanities sequence of courses, students have a solid grounding in the knowledge and skills they need to navigate a complex and fast-changing world, including:
  • an understanding of the historical forces that created modern, diverse human cultures and the ways these cultures are interconnected both within the United States and across nations.
  • the ability to read, understand, summarize, analyze, and synthesize information drawn from a variety of written and cultural sources.
  • the ability to formulate interpretations and arguments, support them with evidence, and present them clearly and persuasively in both written and oral expression.
  • informed perspectives on the major political and ideological debates of our times and the ability to participate in those debates as American and global citizens.


Core Humanities and the Silver Core Curriculum

Under the Silver Core curriculum, which applies students who began their degrees in Fall 2016 or later, students must take two Core Humanities courses to satisfy Core Objective 5 (History and Culture). Students may choose any two courses out of CH 201, CH 202 OR CH 212, and CH 203. All Core Humanities courses satisfy Core Objective 5. In addition, CH 212 satisfies Core Objective 9 (Science, Technology and Society) and CH 203 satisfies Core Objective 8 (Constitution).

Students who are completing their degrees under the old core curriculcum (i.e., those who began at UNR before Fall 2016) must take all three CH courses (CH 201, CH 202 OR CH 212, and CH 203). Students may choose to meet the requirements of either the catalog that was in effect when they began their studies (old core curriculum), or the catalog that is in effect in the semester they graduate (Silver Core Curriculum). Note that although the new core curriculum requires one less CH course, it includes other, additional requirements that students must meet. Depending on the courses you have taken already, you might complete your degree more quickly by taking all three CH courses and graduating under the old core requirements rather than the new ones. Be sure to consult with your major advisor to see what would be the best course of action for your particular case and to make sure you complete the appropriate paperwork for changing catalog years if that is your best option.
Contact Information
Phone: (775) 784-4447
Fax: (775) 784-1658
E-mail: mkearney@unr.edu (Nicholas-Martin Kearney, Core Humanities Administrative Assistant)

Office location:

Mack Social Science Building (MSS), Room 120

Mailing address:
Mail Stop 0151
University of Nevada, Reno NV 89557-0151


Core Humanities News
April 2016: Distinguished Teaching Assistant Awards
Congratulations to our new Distinguished Teaching Assistants for 2016–17: Ben Engel (English), Shelby Grauberger (World Languages and Literatures), Landon Lutrick (English), and Peter Picetti (English). We look forward to working with you all in the coming academic year.
February 2016: Core Humanities Essay Prize Winners
Beginning with the 2015 annual essay prize, the Core Humanities Program will begin awarding one prize for the best essay written in each CH course as well as an overall winner for the best essay written in all courses (chosen from the winners in each course). The 2015 essay prize winners were: Shawn Robb (CH 201), Ian Nesbitt (CH 202 and overall essay prize winner), and Alonzo Vasquez (CH 203).
November 2015: New Core Humanities Course
Starting in Fall 2016, the Core Humanities program will offer a new course, CH 212: Science, Technology, and Society in the Modern Era, which will satisfy Core Objective 9 (Science, Technology, and Society) of the Silver Core Curriculum. Students will be able to take either CH 202 or CH 212, but not both. Many thanks to Dr. Barbara Walker (History) for developing this course and helping to prepare other faculty in the program to teach it.
August 2015: New Faculty and Honors
The Core Humanities program welcomes two new faculty members this semester: Dr. Adriana Varga, who joins us as a lecturer, and Dr. Stephen Lazer, our new postdoctoral fellow. Congratulations also to Dr. Barbara Walker (History) and Dr. Katherine Fusco (English), who have been named as Distinguished Professors in the Core Humanities program for 2015-2017, and to Jeffrey Jowett (History), Jonathan Katalenic (English), and Frank Merksamer (English), who are this year's Distinguished Teaching Assistants.
April 2015: Core Humanities Program Honored by Nevada Humanities
Nevada Humanities honored the Core Humanities Program with an award for Outstanding Teaching in the Humanities at a ceremony held at the governor's mansion in Carson City on March 26. The program and the university were praised for recognizing the importance of the humanities disciplines in providing students with "an intellectual framework and context for thriving in a changing world," at a time when many other universities are cutting liberal arts programs. Core Humanities faculty member and former director Phil Boardman was also honored for his lifetime achievements as a scholar, teacher, and supporter of the humanities. Professor Boardman received the Judith Winzler Award for Excellence in the Humanities, the organization's top award.
March 2015: Why study the humanities? IV
Chemistry professor Loretta Jackson-Hayes argued in the Washington Post recently that studying humanities disciplines makes people better scientists. "If American STEM grads are going to lead the world in innovation, then their science education cannot be divorced from the liberal arts," she writes.
March 2015: Ancient Solutions to Modern Problems
In this article from Good magazine, Mark Hay explains how mud homes are making a comeback in Mali. Mud bricks are less expensive, more environmentally sustainable, and better suited to the region's climate than many modern building materials, and they can endure for centuries with little maintenance. As Hay observes, "the basic approaches of our ancestors were actually more efficient than the flash prestige that has become the norm," proving that sometimes looking back to the past can help us to imagine a better future.


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