GE Redesign: Humanistic Inquiry

Posted on by koenigst



We all are self-reflective. We try to make sense of what it means to be human and how to relate to one another. We seek to understand ourselves and the world around us, and always we think about how things could be, or should be, or might have been.  Humanistic inquiry takes us into realms that lie at the heart of what it means to be a thinking, feeling person, and into realms of interpretation and analysis beyond what facts and figures alone can tell us.

Courses in humanistic inquiry encourage close engagement with works of the imagination—in words, sight, and sound—understanding what it means to live another life and see over the horizon. We explore language as a medium of artistic expression and communication. We study systems of language and thought. We seek to understand traditions that create different cultures—their concepts, values, and events in history—and see them in relation to one another.

Our courses emphasize forms of representation and methods of interpretation, adopting broad perspectives that are chronological, disciplinary, and cross-disciplinary. Students immerse themselves in arts and letters to think about their own place in history and in contemporary society, and inquire into our shared futures.


Learning Objectives

USC’s Humanistic Inquiry program will introduce you to a broad range of courses and ways of thinking that will take you beyond the specialization of your major and significantly extend your ability to understand the human world and your place in it. The program will help you achieve six principal learning objectives.

In Humanistic Inquiry courses you will:

  • Reflect on what it means to be human through close study of human experience throughout time and across diverse cultures;
  • Cultivate a critical appreciation for various forms of human expression, including literature, language, philosophy, and the arts, as well as develop an understanding of the contexts from which these forms emerge;
  • Engage with lasting ideas and values that have animated humanity throughout the centuries for a more purposeful, more ethical, and intellectually richer life;
  • Learn to read and interpret actively and analytically, to think critically and creatively, and to write and speak persuasively;
  • Learn to evaluate ideas from multiple perspectives and to formulate informed opinions on complex issues of critical importance in today’s global world;
  • Learn to collaborate effectively through traditional and new ways of disseminating knowledge.

Having successfully met the learning objectives, you will have acquired both practical skills and more intangible competencies. You will master strategies for finding, reading and understanding relevant information from different genres, for analyzing complex problems, for making and evaluating compelling arguments, and for preparing effective presentations. You will become a clearer thinker and a stronger writer. You will know how to situate current events and ideas in the right historical and cultural context to  be able to  make better decisions. You will gain new insights and be inspired. You will be ready for a life of learning and creativity.

GE courses that satisfy the “Humanistic Inquiry” requirement:

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    USC Office of the Provost
    University of Southern California
    Bovard Administration Building 203
    3551 Trousdale Parkway
    Los Angeles, CA 90089-4019
    Phone: 213-740-2101