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Past, present and future of humanities

According to CAA News Today, across the country, 18 different colleges are making major cuts to their humanities programs. 

With registration hanging in the air, students must be reminded to take selected humanities courses over their time at Concordia College.  

Concordia College remains a liberal arts college that continues to support its humanities program. Its rich history has been predominantly in the ELCA Lutheran denomination, and it has since played a fundamental role in preserving the humanities. Studies like religion, philosophy, and literature have been a core portion of Concordia College’s curriculum.  

However, with the recent national conversation about the worth of humanities, humanities majors and those in related fields are curious about what the future holds for them. Students are wondering how many opportunities they will have for work after they graduate college.  

Concordia College offers many different programs for students to explore the world and themselves. It has become a requirement to take a humanities course in order to graduate.  

Even though it is a requirement now, that does not mean that such programs hold strong footholds in the future of program offerings.  

Sonja Wentling, the dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, has been a faculty member at Concordia College for 19 years. Before taking on the role of dean, she was the president of the global studies department.  

Old Main, home to Concordia’s Counseling Center on the first floor | David Lindgren

“There’s a misconception to what humanities are,” Wentling said.  

Studying the humanities means to be studying humans or what it means to be human. Many different majors fall into the category of humanities, including, philosophy, art, history, world languages and literature.  

In such ways, humanities are not much different from the sciences. “In order to understand what it means to be human, you have to understand the environment,” said Wentling.  

A big part of achieving a liberal arts education is being able to explore different areas of study. “I see the connection between the humanities, the arts and the sciences. I don’t see them separated from one another,” Wentling said. For her, they are all essential for a liberal arts education.  

Other majors, such as communication studies, have different connections to the overall studies of humanities. This major in particular has a direct overlap between being a social science and being part of humanities.  

Sasha Klein is a communication studies and global studies double major. She has dabbled in a variety of courses as part of her major requirements. For example, she has had to take some English classes as well as a social justice class. Most of her coursework is interconnected.  

“I grew up in a school that was very small, and I didn’t have 50 kids in my class. So, we didn’t do much in the humanities sense,” said Klein.  

Once she came to Concordia, she was able to learn about humanities within her communication classes and has a much more solid understanding of what it means to be a humanities major than when she started out.  

“I think all students at Concordia should take a few classes within the humanities, no matter their major.” 

The English department has been offering a class called “English at Work in the World” to give English and similar majors a chance to see what the “real world” has to offer. For the class, they go on field trips to local businesses and nonprofits to see what future careers are available.  

Over fall break, they took a trip to Minneapolis to physically see publishing houses and even took a trip to the International Institute of Minnesota. Klein was able to learn more about future career as a possible lawyer because of such a trip.  

The humanities have made an impact at Concordia College. Although many colleges have let go of their humanities programs, it continues to have a future at Concordia.  

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