Mission Statement: “The Humanities Department, through directed reading, writing and discussion, develops midshipmen’s knowledge of history and literature, oral and written communication skills, capacity to think critically, and awareness of American and world culture. The Department cultivates graduates who are intellectually engaged with, knowledgeable about, and respectful of the diversity of ideas and values that shape both the nation they serve and the world at large.”
The Department of Humanities is composed of dedicated scholars who are passionate about encouraging student communication skills, life-long learning, and respectful reflection on the complexities of the human experience, crucial abilities for young people as they move through the increasingly complex and diverse twenty-first century.
The Department strives to achieve four goals:
- To strengthen midshipmen's knowledge of historical events, literary works, diverse traditions and intellectual achievements in world culture and American civilization
- To introduce midshipmen to the history and culture of the maritime world, the maritime industry, and the U.S. Navy
- To foster development of college-level analytic and critical thinking skills in oral presentation, reading, research (including information literacy), and writing
- To strengthen and reinforce models of leadership and ethics through literary and historical study
It works toward achieving its mission and goals through a variety of required and elective courses, primarily in English and History, but with occasional interdisciplinary courses or ventures into journalism, film, leadership, and other topics.
The Department offers two required introductory English courses, writing intensive experiences with small class size, ideally less than fifteen students. The first, Composition & Literature, is a 3-credit course taken in plebe year that primarily gives emphasis to composition to develop writing skills through close reading and critical analysis. For those with a weak writing background, the English Support Program provides an additional hour of remedial work in grammar and composition. A second 3-credit course, Literature, focuses on literature of various genres and ages, and provides additional work on composition. Marine Engineering majors also take a 2-credit Technical Communications course that provides an introduction to the sort of writing engineers are expected to do.
It also offers two required history courses. The first of these is the History of Sea Power, a 3-credit course taken in the Plebe year, which acquaints midshipmen with maritime and naval history, including the role of sea power during the two 20th century world wars as well as reinforcing basic writing, critical reading and speaking skills. The 3-credit History of the Modern World course, offered in an upper-class year, examines the forces that have shaped global societies to better prepare midshipmen to work in an industry that spans the world.
In addition to the traditional on-campus courses, all midshipmen complete a 1-credit Humanities Sea Year Project. It is designed to serve as a companion during the second “Sea Year” sailing period and to challenge students to think about their place, on ship and on shore, in the larger maritime world and explore their relationship with and understanding of other cultures and societies. As such, it serves the humanist goal of intellectual self-discovery; and through a series of readings and writing exercises spaced out over the time at sea students will be able to “map” their individual voyages and personal journeys.
The Department also offers a number of electives, such as film, Latin American history, Shakespeare, East Asian history, ethics, leadership, Holocaust studies, military history, and others on an occasional basis. The Department also oversees a number of one-on-one independent studies that are arranged directly between professors and midshipmen, and has supported a number of Kings Point Scholar projects.
The Humanities Department prides itself on taking the lead in campus cultural issues. It oversees the O'Gara Academic Honor Society, which recognizes the most academically accomplished midshipmen at Kings Point by offering exceptional array of distinguished speakers from the maritime industry, arts, and sciences as well as the opportunity for midshipmen to participate in a cultural enrichment program. The Department also oversees the Arts and World Affairs program, which encourages all midshipmen to take advantage of the fantastic cultural opportunities available in New York City as well as occasionally bringing events on campus when funding permits.