The University of Scranton Humanities Forum is a series of speakers who come to campus each year to enrich our campus, classes, and intellectual life through engaging conversations and talks. In the first two years, we will have brought 16 different speakers to campus from a range of academic disciplines.
Any faculty member at The University of Scranton may apply to have a speaker come to campus and this is vetted by the Faculty Executive Committee of the Gail and Francis Slattery Center for Humanities at The University of Scranton.
The Faculty Executive Committee began in 2017 as the Humanities Initiative by asking a simple question: What would the University of Scranton campus feel like if we added 20 more humanities majors each year?
The concern, that each year fewer students majored in the humanities, is not just a provincial one. All over the U.S. the number of students seeking degrees in the humanities has declined precipitously since 2008. Students and their families, nervous about the tenuous economy, rising cost of higher education, and mounting student debt, turned to “practical” degrees that promised stable employment. Even President Obama (himself a political science and English literature double major), chastised art history majors for anticipating a job in their field upon graduation. With so much pressure to graduate college and get a job, students turned away from “useless” degrees and classes that did not have a clearly demarcated career path.
At the University of Scranton, our Jesuit intellectual tradition encourages students and faculty to consider the human. In 1973, Pedro Arrupe, S.J., gave a famous address in which he urged Jesuit high schools and universities to educate students to become “men and women for others.” This clarion call, we believe, falls squarely in line with the purpose of studying the humanities.
As our world grows more interconnected, as individuals are exposed to new cultures and ideas, it’s vital that we remember our human connections that celebrate our common values.