A&S To Launch Classical Studies Minor In Fall

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Beginning in the fall, undergraduates will have the opportunity to take courses in classical studies as part of an interdisciplinary minor recently approved by the College of Arts and Sciences.

The minor will enable students to explore dimensions of the ancient world without requiring proficiency in Greek or Latin. After taking an overview course on Greek and Roman civilizations, students will be able to choose classes that examine history, art, philosophy or other areas. The six-course sequence is one of nearly 20 minors offered through A&S to complement existing majors and expand students' understanding of cultures, languages, religion, sociology, politics and the arts.

A&S administrators and faculty say the classical studies minor comes as the discipline is enjoying a resurgence and offers undergraduates a unique way to enhance their particular field of study.

"Classical studies has held a position of great honor in the Jesuit tradition," said A&S Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ. "Boston College continues to uphold and support that tradition, of course, through our undergraduate major in classical studies. Now, making it available as an interdisciplinary minor will expose even more students to the richness of the ancient world."

"Our idea is to offer breadth, as well as depth, to undergraduates' education," said Assoc. Prof. David Gill, SJ, chairman of the Classical Studies Department. "Classical studies is a hot field and it is moving in some innovative directions, with new journals, encyclopedias and other publications. We wanted to see how we might make this relevant to Boston College undergraduates who do not necessarily see classical studies as their primary interest."

For example, Fr. Gill said, while a student majoring in English could use the minor to take courses in Greek drama or mythology, an economics or management major might learn about the economy of the Roman Empire. Other courses the department is considering for the minor include the laws of the ancient world and the roles of women in ancient societies, Fr. Gill said. Students could gain valuable insights from comparing such aspects of the ancient world with those in more contemporary eras.

"In recent years," Fr. Gill said, "we've seen how the emergence of social science and literary theory has affected all academic fields. That is what's happening now with classical studies. People are beginning to ask questions which have not been explored up until now: What was marriage like in ancient Rome? How did you conduct your daily or weekly business affairs in Greece?"

"Classical studies has, by definition, always been an interdisciplinary field," noted Assoc. Prof. Charles Ahern Jr. (Classical Studies), who helped develop the minor. "It spans literature, archeology, art history and many other fields, and can, therefore, give students an idea of how a particular discipline has evolved over time. That kind of perspective is quite valuable to have and it is an integral part of the BC curriculum."

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