The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Blog

A University-Wide Focus on Studying the Humanities Broadens Students’ Horizons

Brett McCormick, Ph.D., chair of the University’s Department of Human Sciences, helps ensure that students have a variety of opportunities to study the humanities, enabling them to discover new interests, enrich their education, and prepare for success throughout their lives.

September 26, 2019

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Thomas Almeida '21
Thomas Almeida ’21 presents his SURF project research.

Thomas Almeida ’21 has always been passionate about English, stories, and literature. After spending a semester and a half as a computer science major, he switched his major to English to pursue what he calls his true passion.

As part of his Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) project, he focused this summer on finding commonalities between stories in popular culture – from superhero movies to American novels.

"What I love most about my major is the subjectivity with which I can approach every course," said Almeida, who is minoring in philosophy. "There are so many interesting niche topics, and my assignments do not feel like ‘work.’"

Image of Brett McCormick, Ph.D.
Brett McCormick, Ph.D.

As chair of the University’s Department of Human Sciences and director of the Global Studies program, Brett McCormick, Ph.D., helps ensure that all students – regardless of their major – are exposed to the humanities through the core curriculum. He wants students who only take a few humanities courses to get as much out of them as possible, and to be able to connect what they learn across all of their courses.

"We have designed the core curriculum not just to make sure that our students cover some of the humanities, but to let them know that these fields exist and the opportunities they might have in them," he said. "Students may discover that they have other aptitudes or interests that they can also pursue."

Dr. McCormick says there is an important societal value to studying the humanities, which covers fields such as history, modern languages, global studies, and philosophy, since they enrich one’s perspectives, values, and skills.

Studying the humanities can broaden students’ experiences, giving them a deeper understanding of their community, society, and the world. This, says Dr. McCormick, can directly enhance students’ internships and the value of their service learning opportunities.

"The humanities provide another important way for students to gain experience, besides direct experience," he said. "For example, what is a history class, if not the record of how millions of other people have experienced and dealt with problems? If you study history, you can transcend the limits of your own personal experience and study great examples of how things have been done."

"Studying the humanities can broaden students’ experiences, giving them a deeper understanding of their community, society, and the world"Brett McCormick, Ph.D.

Almeida, the English major, believes the humanities have given him a home at the University, and he wants to continue his research and education in the field’s disciplines.

"I think it's important for students to study the humanities because they enable students to connect with the world and people around us," said Almeida. "The humanities can do more than facts and figures to shape how we perceive things."

The University of New Haven’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program enables students to develop a proposal for a research project, conduct it while working closely with a faculty member, and present their findings to the campus community.