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A Message from Dean Dianne Harris

Dianne HarrisEvery year, thousands of outstanding students select a major or minor in the College of Humanities at the University of Utah. The very foundations of this great University reside in the humanities, such that the study of literature, languages, history, philosophy, writing, linguistics, and communication have provided the core curriculum for every student for generations. Thus, we are a path well-traveled, but one that is constantly adapting to a rapidly shifting world. In response to those shifts, I asked our College Faculty to think together last year about our college and our students. Richard Preiss, a Professor in our English Department responded with the following:


“Instead of being given problems to solve, our students generate them; instead of rehearsing narratives, they challenge them; skilled trackers of meaning, they learn how to wield it. Trained to navigate zones of interpretation rather than fixed rules, they emerge from the Humanities with a highly adaptable creative intelligence, capable of analyzing complex systems and exploiting nuance in a world that is rarely black and white. They become lawyers, doctors, politicians, activists, artists, educators, scholars, journalists, advertisers, entrepreneurs, and CEOs—producers of culture rather than consumers of it. A Humanities degree prepares you for no particular job, because it prepares you for any job—and for a mental life from which that job need not be distinct.”

I couldn’t possibly have said it better!  The College of Humanities thus proudly houses some of the oldest realms of study in the University, and we are also moving with the times, offering minors and majors in International Studies, Peace & Conflict Studies, and in emerging areas (soon to be on the books) such as Digital Humanities, Medical Humanities, and our signal work in Environmental Humanities. Our college leads the way with pioneering cross-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary research, teaching, and scholarship; it creates innovative undergraduate experiences like our Humanities Scholars program; and it houses one of the largest groups of award-winning teachers and scholars in the University. Students in our college study with faculty whose research-informed teaching brings the most advanced ideas and interpretations to our classrooms. In the process, our faculty shapes the best, brightest, and most prepared students in the nation.

And here’s what we know for sure: After graduation, our students not only lead lives of extraordinary fulfillment, but they also truly excel at whatever they choose to do. For that reason, we are launching a new campaign for the College of Humanities: “Humanities Gives You the Edge.” Our thousands of alumni tell us repeatedly that their humanities degree made the decisive difference, giving them that extra edge that helped them succeed because they are excellent writers; critical, ethical, creative, and logical thinkers; multi-lingual and culturally sophisticated global citizens; empathetic and carefully trained listeners; skilled collaborators; and outstanding creative partners. No matter what life and career path they have chosen, our alums tell us that their humanities degree gave them the edge. Help us give you the edge, and join us as a student in the College of Humanities.


With my warmest welcome,

Dianne Harris, Dean
College of Humanities

Last Updated: 8/26/16