In the Shadows of BP: Teaching Humanities to Underprepared Students

By Chris Buczinsky and Ginger Rodriguez.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper describes an approach to teaching the humanities to underprepared college students at Calumet College of St. Joseph in Northwest Indiana. Our emphasis on guiding students to encounter and respond to great humanistic works as the foundation of general education holds great promise for our students. We are promoting reception and response through administrative structures: an integrated and sequenced general education program and a structure of learning communities that deliver content and promote skills while allowing students the time necessary to think about the issues of human life and society in depth from several perspectives. This structure reflects and implements interdisciplinary theory and some basic assumptions: that so-called high culture has something to say to all students, not only the elites that have been associated with the Western tradition in the past; that some works of the human imagination are indeed great because they speak to people across time and space, even under different critical paradigms and cultural assumptions; and that considering these great works can give all students both academic skills and, perhaps more importantly, insights into their own lives. Our approach seems to offer one answer to how to present the humanities in a meaningful way to students living in the shadows of industry–and in other college settings as well.

Keywords: Humanities, General Education, Integrative First-Year Experiences, Core Skills

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp.69-76. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 738.998KB).

Chris Buczinsky

Director, English Program, Calumet College of St. Joseph, Whiting, Indiana, USA

Chris Buczinsky earned his Ph.D. in English from Northwestern University in 1994, where he specialized in the nineteenth-century British novel, modernism, and social theory. His dissertation explored the role of work and writing in the early sea novels of Joseph Conrad. After earning his degree, he left academia to create a children’s poetry performance company. He spent four years as a children’s writer and performer in Chicagoland public elementary schools, co-authoring, illustrating, and publishing Pied Poetry, a collection of children’s verse. After two years as assistant editor of several trade magazines, he launched his academic career at Calumet College of St. Joseph, where he is now director of the college’s English program and co-creator of the college’s general education program in the humanities. He spends his summers in New Mexico, writing, painting, and illustrating for children. He lives in Arlington Heights, Illinois with his wife and seventeen year old child.

Dr. Ginger Rodriguez

Instructor, English and Humanities, English Department, Calumet College of St. Joseph, Whiting, Indiana, USA

Ginger Rodriguez is an instructor in English and Humanities at Calumet College of St. Joseph, a small, private college in Northwest Indiana, where she teaches Humanities and writing in the Honors Learning Community, as well as English courses such as American Literature, Literary Criticism, and the Novel. In addition to collaborating on developing Humanities programming, her current research at the College focuses on documenting the impact on learning and retention of intellectually linked courses. At the same time, she is completing an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Humanities at Union Institute and University, where she is pursuing another research interest: the changing critical perception of the so-called American Renaissance writers of the nineteenth century. Ms. Rodriguez has a Master of Liberal Arts degree from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.


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