The Department of Classical Civilizations – the oldest at our university – provides undergraduates with access to over 2,500 years of human experience drawn from the multicultural world of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East.
Coursework emphasizes the history, material culture, mores, and values of the societies that have helped shape Western civilization, drawing attention to the significant achievements of the past and the considerable impact of their legacy upon the present. Students are required to complete a balanced curriculum divided between the study of ancient languages (Latin, Greek) and their contemporary societies. Through this combined focus, students gain a broader comprehension and appreciation of the rich cultural, humanistic heritage stemming from the classical world.
By immersing students in the study of the languages and ethnically diverse societies of antiquity, the program prepares them for careers within a world that is increasingly multicultural, interdependent, and global in outlook, in such fields as politics, ethics, business, law, sciences and education. The ancients themselves embraced this model of liberal arts education; according to the Roman orator Cicero, such cultural and historical study “illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity.” The program’s courses are by nature interdisciplinary, with application to the sciences, art, theater, literature, philosophy, religion, politics, and government. Moreover, through addressing relevant issues of gender, ethnicity, and interaction between cultures, the curriculum reaches well beyond the borders of Greece and Rome to embrace other civilizations across the world and time.