Human Interaction, 2013-2014

The globalising world defies understanding through the isolated study of politics, law, economics, or natural sciences. The international arena in which considerations of politics, economy, environment—but also culture, religion, and society—increasingly intersect poses serious challenges for mono-disciplinary modes of understanding human life. Acknowledging that institutional and legal structures are only part of the picture of a globalizing world, this major focuses on the cultural, historical, and religious dimensions of human interaction. It emphasizes critical reading and writing skills, interpretive research methodologies, and a broad acquaintance with the major social, cultural, intellectual, and institutional developments that have produced contemporary societies.

Students majoring in HI can focus on two or more interrelated fields. By studying history in a transnational frame, students trace the origins of a range of contemporary phenomena. What have been the roots of global economic inequalities and the modern state system? How have forces such as nationalism, colonialism, industrialization, migration, and democratization shaped human lives at the local and global level? Drawing on the disciplines of anthropology and sociology, students study the ways that human beliefs and actions are shaped by social structures (and vice versa)—ranging from social categories such as race, class, gender, sexuality and age, to institutions defined by kinship, economics, politics, or religion. This major also offers an innovative approach to the study of religion in a variety of domestic, national, and international contexts. And through close engagement with literature and film from varied cultural traditions, students gain a uniquely nuanced perspective on historical events, social movements, individual psychology, and the history of artistic forms. Finally, HI majors connect their historical and contemporary concerns to relevant theory, including works by classical philosophers, foundational political and economic thinkers, and a range of modern socio-political and cultural theorists.

Methodology courses:
Qualitative Research Methods,
Ethnography: Representations of Culture,
Language & Politics