The major consists of four central components: the study of defined historical periods through many perspectives, intermediate comparative courses from related disciplines, upper-level humanities courses, and a senior thesis on a topic of the student’s choosing.

Because comparisons among cultures are vital to comparative humanities, majors are also required to attain at least an intermediate standing in a foreign language (ancient or modern) to enhance their cultural understanding and the ability to think and communicate effectively in a global society. This can be satisfied by taking the fourth course in any Bucknell foreign language sequence or by studying abroad in an immersion environment.

Students are strongly encouraged to study abroad, particularly in challenging or unusual locations. Recent student destinations include Ghana, China, and Austria. The Comparative Humanities Program also teams with the Department of Classics to co-sponsor a three-week summer program in Greece and Turkey.

In addition to the foreign-language requirement, the major incorporates these elements.

  • Three period courses in humanities (HUMN 128, 150 and 250). These introduce the student to the major categories of western humanistic thought, with extensive use of non-western texts and materials as well.
  • Two courses in related humanities disciplines (approved by the advisor, one of which is in a non-European tradition). These comparative courses, taken within comparative humanities or any other arts and humanities department, introduce students to the range and complexity of comparative study and allow students to follow their own specific interests.
  • Two humanities seminars (HUMN 300 courses). These seminars allow in-depth analysis of a range of subjects and comparative methods. Recent seminar subjects include the intersections of neuroscience and the humanities, Buddhism in American culture, and translation theory.
  • Independent study for a senior thesis (HUMN 350 or HUMN 351). In writing a senior thesis, students choose a topic and pursue sustained comparative research with a faculty mentor from within the program and at least one advisor from another department or program. This exercise in critical thinking, culminating in oral defense of the written work, develops highly transferable skills that appeal to graduate programs and employers. Students interested in the major should contact one of the faculty as early as possible to begin the advising process.
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