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: (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
August 2016: Michael Roth on the Importance of the Humanities and Liberal Arts
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the president of Weslyan University highlights the versatile analytical and critical thinking skills taught by humanities disciplines and their importance to individual and societal success in the twenty-first century: "A strictly utilitarian education produces graduates who will conform to the status quo, but in our period of extraordinary change, the status quo almost immediately becomes obsolete. . . . Liberal learning in the American tradition isn’t only training; it is an invitation to think for oneself—and to act in concert with others to face serious challenges and create far-reaching opportunities."
May 2016: Core Humanities Assessment Report
The results are in! For the past two years we have been assessing how well the CH courses are teaching the Student Learning Outcomes for each course and for the program as a whole. Data gathered through both direct and indirect assessment methods (including student surveys) show that the courses are meeting their objectives and that they help students to develop the knowledge and skills described in the SLOs. Significantly, students who completed 80 percent or more of the coursework assigned in their CH classes did better on the SLOs than those who completed less than 80 percent. Click here to view the 2016 Core Humanities Assessment Report.
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.

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