Comparative humanities and philosophy major
“I work at a newly created pay-per-view sports broadcaster, managing many of our commercial clients, coordinating our technology and resolving a broad range of other issues. In a start-up environment, the ability to juggle different tasks and engage on multiple fronts is invaluable. It's no surprise that my comparative humanities degree prepared me to draft creative and well-written press releases and legal documents. But even more importantly, it developed the critical-thinking skills needed to quickly learn new aspects of the law and technology, which lets me jump between nuanced tasks that would often require several employees with different, more technical educations. It was this ability for which our CEO was looking, and it was my comparative humanities degree that drew his attention in the interview process.”
Comparative humanities major, Italian studies minor
“For me, majoring in comparative humanities meant moving to the next level of thought. You don't just read books and memorize facts - you analyze and draw conclusions from the material. We focused on producing good work, not just turning in papers for a grade, which really pushed my writing and helped me in all of my classes. I learned to look for drivers and connectors between ideas, and I learned how to create a compelling case with really tight storytelling. As a brand planner at an advertising agency, I rely on these skills every day.”
Comparative humanities major
“I was attracted to comparative humanities, and in turn, Bucknell, because I was looking for a traditional liberal arts curriculum. Comparative humanities allowed me to work on my writing in the same way that an English program would, but it exposed me to broader areas of study as I examined the relationships between different historical eras. This is one of the most flexible majors at Bucknell - from taking classes in other departments to choosing your own thesis topic. You can be as creative as you want in deciding exactly what to study, and your options are never limited by the boundaries that exist between traditional academic disciplines.
“Now I am in a graduate program at Stanford called Policy, Organization and Leadership Studies. This course of study requires work in multiple schools and departments as I examine how philanthropy and social ventures are impacting education. Comparative humanities gave me the skills, knowledge and confidence necessary to approach complex, interdisciplinary problems like the ones I am studying in graduate school.”
Comparative humanities and Spanish major
“I wanted to incorporate all of my interests – including Spanish, literature, philosophy, religion and society - into one course of study. Moreover, I wanted a program that was demanding yet flexible and transferable post-graduation, with committed, thoughtful faculty. Comparative humanities offered me all of these things and honed my critical thinking, analysis and writing skills. I learned to trust in myself as an entrepreneur and embrace my interest in thinking and working across disciplines.
“I earned my master’s in public administration in Nonprofit Management and Public Policy from New York University. I was fortunate enough to receive a full-tuition scholarship as part of the Catherine B. Reynolds Program in Social Entrepreneurship, which I believe is partially due to my experience in comparative humanities. I work for Resources for Human Development, a $200 million national human service nonprofit serving some of society’s most vulnerable populations. As assistant director of corporate operations, I oversee internal communications, system-wide technology initiatives, and policy creation and distribution. I am also an adjunct professor at Harcum College within their Leadership Studies and Human Services programs. I am very much a ‘systems’ thinker and writer, which I can attribute to the rigor of the CH program.”
Comparative humanities, political science and Spanish major
“Majoring in comparative humanities allowed me to take classes in several different disciplines. Because there was some freedom when it came to choosing my courses, I always took classes about which I was excited. I could tailor the major to my interests and therefore it was exactly what I wanted it to be. It also helped me with my non-major courses, too, because I learned to integrate information across all of my classes.
“ I’m finishing my second year with Teach for America. I teach high school English at a charter school in Philadelphia. Analyzing literature, clearly articulating thoughts both verbally and in writing, and making comparisons between texts and ideas are all skills I would like my students to have. They are also skills I use in preparing to teach my students.
“ I’ll soon graduate from the University of Pennsylvania with a master’s degree in urban education. Researching, thinking critically, making connections between events and ideas, and putting it all together in writing are all skills I use regularly in graduate school. I’m glad I wrote and presented a senior thesis for comparative humanities because I now feel well prepared to complete my master’s thesis this spring.”
Comparative humanities and political science major
“Comparative humanities made me more comfortable with taking intellectual risks - going outside the boundaries of an academic discipline, and having the confidence to follow through on my ideas. For example, if I had to write a poli sci paper on Aristotle or Plato, I might incorporate Greek plays into my argument. Without comparative humanities, I don’t think I would have had the ability or willingness to do that.
“It’s difficult to imagine a course of study that would have better prepared me for law school. In the first year, you’re challenged to quickly analyze and compare different legal cases. For me, it was like swapping Jane Austen for US Supreme Court opinions – it’s the same process of looking for similarities and differences. Plus, when I got to law school, I was already comfortable speaking in class, having my thoughts questioned by peers and professors, and defending my ideas.
“Today I direct public policy initiatives and strategies for the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts. I spend a lot of time in the state capital as well as D.C., working with all kinds of legislation and stakeholders. My professors in comparative humanities taught me the value of considering many different interpretations and analyses. That approach to problem-solving guides me every day.”
Comparative humanities and philosophy major
“The opportunity to become well read in classic literature, philosophy, religion and art was extremely intriguing to me on a personal level. However, the opportunity to take a guided tour of history through the comparative humanities was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A comparative humanities major doesn’t focus on one piece of literature, one artist’s works or one historical event. He or she engages with a time period through multiple lenses and develops an ability to connect the dots across disciplines and media, whether similar or disparate.
“I believe active participation in small-group discussion focused on difficult topics, regardless of discipline, is necessary for success. Every comparative humanities class fosters this skill. The ability to communicate your interpretation of a topic in a coherent, impassioned, understandable way is 100 percent transferable to every discipline or career.
“There are no limits to what you can explore in comparative humanities. The major can be paired with virtually every other department at Bucknell, and the comparative humanities faculty encourage you reach across disciplines. I completed a summer internship in finance and wrote my thesis on microfinance in conjunction with the management department. Today, I am a senior associate at a $2 billion private equity fund focused on constructive investing in restructurings, turnarounds, and other special situations."
Comparative humanities, English and French major
"In comparative humanities, you can learn about art history as well as literature, science and mathematics at the same time - and you kind of progress through history. It's an interesting way of learning, as opposed to studying isolated events. Even during my first two semesters, I found that what I was learning in comparative humanities was really informing my studies in English and French literature. Now I'm working on my Ph.D. at Harvard, and I plan to become a professor of children's literature. I love teaching, and I've found that comparative humanities prepared me to teach whatever subject is called for - whether I'm serving as a mentor and teaching assistant for undergraduates at Harvard or substitute-teaching in K-12 classrooms. I was really inspired by my comparative humanities professors at Bucknell. They are the spark for everything and absolutely tireless."
Comparative humanities and English major, philosophy and Latin minor
“Majoring in comparative humanities gave me a big-picture overview of Western thought, and was invaluable in developing my critical thinking and writing skills. As an editor of the Comparative Humanities Review, I was able to get hands-on experience editing a journal volume and organizing several conferences sponsored by the journal, which encouraged undergrads to contribute real scholarship to the field. The faculty support I received in these endeavors, and especially in writing articles and giving conference papers, helped me get into competitive Ivy League Ph.D. programs. I'm now a doctoral candidate in Celtic languages and literature at Harvard.”
Comparative humanities, Russian and English major
"Bucknell was valuable to me in many ways, but majoring in comparative humanities is at the top of my list by a mile. The level of discourse and intellectual rigor is very high, and the nature and the size of the program makes it almost like an intellectual fraternity - you get to know everyone right away. I'm still in constant contact with my classmates and the faculty.
"From my earliest days in the program, I felt that all roads were open to me, and the one I took went through Russia. Professor Katie Faull's course in translation studies has been a huge advantage. I spent a summer traveling with the Russian Olympic team and working as their English teacher, interpreter and translator. After I finish my Ph.D at Yale, I hope to teach prose, poetry, film, and theatre in Russian, using an integrated approach similar to the comparative humanities model."
Comparative humanities major, Italian and international relations minor
"Comparative humanities makes you more of a three-dimensional person. It lets you take full advantage of the true liberal arts education you can only get at schools like Bucknell. I loved the wide breadth of information, and how I was able to take classes in so many disciplines. I knew I wanted to become a doctor, but I always really liked English and history, and didn't want my undergraduate classes to focus only on science.
"I think the humanities are really important for anyone going into medicine. If you're going to be in contact with people who are suffering, you have to be able to connect with them on a number of levels. That was reinforced by my overseas volunteer experience with Unite for Sight, a nonprofit that partners with eye clinics in Ghana. I'm currently a researcher at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, and this fall I'll start medical school at the University of Maryland."
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