Humanities & Liberal Arts: The humanities are restless

Freshmen of the Class of 2014 do an Orientation dance on the Quad kicking off a yearlong exploration of how science and art interconnect.

Freshmen of the Class of 2014 do an Orientation dance on the Quad kicking off a yearlong exploration of how science and art interconnect.

Philosophy and religion — hot. Justice studies — igniting. Foreign languages — on fire. At JMU it's anything but the cry heard a decade ago foretelling the collapse of the humanities in higher education. That's because a simple truth endures: Through the growth and change at JMU during the Rose presidency, Madison's traditional liberal arts programs and the Quad around which they array themselves remain together at the heart of JMU.

Traditional doesn't mean static, however. In fact the humanities are restless — as is their nature.

The College of Arts and Letters, for instance, has regrouped four times since 1998. In 2005, an amicable breakup yielded the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Subsequently, an internal faculty study of the remaining programs recommended that the college reorganize into three smaller, more focused and flexible units. The outcomes were the School of Communication, Information and Media; the School of Liberal Arts; and the School of Public and International Affairs. The result: perpetuating high quality, intimate instruction by professors who are truly extraordinary in their disciplines.

The liberal arts stand on their own as major and minor degree programs and also partner, collaborate and strategically mix and match with the arts and the sciences to help produce JMU's General Education and honors program offerings, Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies and content disciplines for teacher education.

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