On Feb. 23, the University of Dallas announced comprehensive plans to trim budgets amid the financial squeeze brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the more significant cuts made was the dissolution of the Department of Human and Social Sciences (HUSC).
Despite the discontinuation of the HUSC as a major, students that are currently pursuing a HUSC degree will be provided with their remaining classes until they graduate. The concentration will remain available for all students indefinitely.
Dr. Dennis Sepper, chair of the Department of Human and Social Sciences, recalled that its founding purpose was to be an opportunity to investigate the social-scientific trends of our rapidly modernizing world.
Originally called “Human Sciences in the Contemporary World,” the department was by nature interdisciplinary as it strove to investigate the contemporary human social being, using Western philosophical and spiritual cornerstones of study. Over time, the name was changed to “Human and Social Sciences” to further emphasize the social and behavioral aspects of its curriculum.
“We wanted to emphasize that the social and behavioral sciences, generically known as the ‘Human Sciences.’ had come to grow and flourish in an attempt to understand precisely what was going on in the transition of the world from traditional to modern” Sepper said.
The concentration will maintain the same focus. The course load, although trimmed down from its original size, will reflect the same mission. However, the junior seminar class and senior seminar will no longer be provided.
Sepper remains very optimistic about both the current class of HUSC students and the future participants in the concentration. He specifically noted the concentration’s compatibility with the classic UD education and affirmed its comprehensiveness.
“The advantage of the concentration is that its courses are pretty well integrated with one another,” Sepper said. “It will be a great introduction, from a philosophical point of view, of the questions, problems, methods, concepts and theories of the contemporary social sciences, and it will provide enough background for people who may want to move on to graduate study.”
Dr. Carla Pezzia, an associate professor in the Department of HUSC, will take over as chair of the department next year and then remain as principal educator in the concentration.
In an interview, she reaffirmed how the concentration will complement UD’s famous culture of ‘how to think, not what to think,’ saying that it stokes students’ abilities to inform their own conclusions with a diverse range of perspectives as well as continuing to link their Core education to the modern world.
“Students take classes grounded in the Western tradition, but what is the product of that Western tradition?”
“[For] any student who wants to further understand the human person, any student who wants to have a job in service, or in the business industry,” Pezzia said, “the HUSC classes can give a full picture of social interactions that would prove beneficial for almost every major.”
Sepper further called the concentration “great preparation for being able to do work that requires complex thought and personal initiative in order to carry it out.”
Dr. Charles Sullivan, who is an associate professor of history as well as a HUSC professor, will be conducting more history classes in the future as the dissolution of the major results in less HUSC classes.
However, Sullivan maintains that the skills he learned teaching the Human and Social Sciences will never truly disappear from his intellectual toolbox, and he will continue the legacy that lives on in the HUSC concentration.
“Everyone’s toolbox should include every possible tool,” he said. “Don’t impoverish your toolbox!”