Dean's Message 2010-2011

Faculty of Humanities

Dean's Message 2010-2011

More than 2000 years ago, the Roman playwright Terence wrote: “Homo sum; humani nil a me alienum puto.”  I am human; I consider nothing human to be foreign to me.

The 16th-century French writer Montaigne is said to have had the words painted on his ceiling. British author D.M. Thomas adapted the saying in his 1981 novel The White Hotel, where a fictionalized Sigmund Freud claims that nothing human is alien to us. John Donne in the 17th century put it a different way: he said simply, “I am involved in mankind.”

Here at Brock, the question of what it means to be human is foundational to the Faculty of Humanities. Across our wide-ranging departments, centres, and programs our students immerse themselves in things that are bigger and older and fundamentally different than they are –- and in so doing they discover not just themselves but the full sweep of human knowledge and experience in which they are involved.

The active ingredients in a Brock Humanities degree include skills that are transferable to virtually every career: skills in reading, problem-solving, critical reasoning, speaking, and writing; training in research, synthesis, and analysis of information; and in certain programs hands-on practice in technique or performance. But the list also includes opportunities for self-reflection and personal growth, service learning in local or global communities, engagement of different and divergent points of view, and exposure to a range of ideas and issues to prepare our undergraduate and graduate students for imaginative leadership. It’s all human, and nothing is foreign.

Nothing is foreign in language. In the Faculty of Humanities, we offer courses and programs in ancient and modern languages that cover the globe. We also speak Web 2.0 in our interactive digital media programs, and we teach Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences in applied settings. In Music we translate the notes on a page or screen into living performance. We communicate by the image in Visual Arts, the written text in English and other literatures, and voice, body, and movement in Dramatic Arts.

Nothing is foreign in time.
Despite the saying that “the past is a foreign country,” at Brock the study of Plato or Kant in Philosophy is as relevant today as contemporary Labour Studies in History, Viking culture in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, or an archeological dig in Classics. Students can explore literary history in English, French, Italian, or Spanish, and they can map out future knowledge through our interdisciplinary programs combining traditional fields and digital technologies.

Nothing is foreign in experience.
Whether our students are studying women’s lives in the Middle Ages, 20th-century wartime literature, Eastern philosophy, Canadian culture, musical pedagogy, dramatic production and design, or a studio course in art, the Faculty of Humanities embraces an enormously rich variety of human experience. Brock students come from 81 different countries, and they go back out into the world to serve and to learn through international exchanges and coop placements.

Terence’s concept expresses a vision in which as students, teachers, and researchers, the world is all before us, and our common humanities are just waiting to be explored.

I invite you to scope out our exciting, challenging programs and courses on this website, or arrange a campus visit and sit in on a class taught by one of our award-winning teachers and scholars. You’ll be in good company.

In the Faculty of Humanities at Brock, nothing human is foreign to us.

Douglas Kneale
Dean of Humanities