Study primary text sources in the humanities discipline in the Shimer Great Books School. Study primary text sources in the humanities discipline in the Shimer Great Books School. Study primary text sources in the humanities discipline in the Shimer Great Books School. Study primary text sources in the humanities discipline in the Shimer Great Books School. Study primary text sources in the humanities discipline in the Shimer Great Books School.

Shimer Great Books School

Shimer Great Books School, Humanities

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Undergraduate Admissions

(630) 637-5800

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The humanities awaken our senses to the world around us and give us a greater understanding of what it means to be human—teaching us to see the meaning, story and beauty behind all expressions of life and self.

Found at the intersections of philosophy, literature, theology, fine arts and aesthetics, the humanities major will teach you to think creatively and critically, and to analyze all aspects of the human experience. The humanities have been at the foundation of classical liberal arts education since the beginning and they connect us both to those who came before us and to our contemporaries.

About Shimer Great Books School

The Shimer Great Books School at North Central College provides and preserves education centered on discussion of enduring questions and issues. Here, you will immerse yourself in reading, writing and discussion alongside other voracious readers who use what they read to engage with the world and understand their roles in it.

Learning is a constant dialogue where every opinion and every position is questioned and analyzed. You’ll discuss your ideas in a class with people who will push you to think more deeply about fundamental questions than you ever have before. Simply put, the Shimer Great Books School challenges you to delve deeply into the diverse and endlessly fascinating areas of thought and creativity in the company of similarly inclined students and teachers.

Quote:

“You will probably never read anything the same way again and you will be better for it … You will learn more about yourself and your world than you would ever expect.”

-  Sophie, Shimer student

Learn more on the Shimer Great Books School blog

Humanities, B.A.

The Shimer School Humanities Major introduces students to various modes of critical reflection on and methodical investigation of human expression and thought.  Classic and major contemporary works of visual and musical art, literature, philosophy, theology and related fields form the core of the Humanities sequence of courses in this major.  Students come to know and understand these texts and works of art partly through individual reflection, but also in small-class discussions with their peers and in intensive writing, peer-editing and re-writing of essays and in creative work guided by course materials.  Each course involves integrating insights into two or three distinct fields in the Humanities, though each follows a focused, inter-disciplinary theme, pushing students to devise increasingly broad yet nuanced accounts of the nature of humanistic inquiry and practice.

Breadth and depth of knowledge and skills characterize graduates of the Shimer School.  Through the core curriculum of the Shimer School they immerse themselves in major classic and contemporary works of human expression, social thought and scientific knowledge and practice.  Their broad familiarity with fundamental ideas and methods across the Liberal Arts provides the foundation on which they build increasingly refined understanding and skills in more specialized courses in chosen disciplines taught across North Central College.  Shimer School graduates thus find meaningful employment in an unusually broad array of fields, including teaching, social work, law, small business and entrepreneurial enterprise and non-profit administration among the most common.

For additional programs and courses in this school, see Shimer Great Books School.

Major Requirements

Shimer School Humanities Core Courses

  • SGBH 101 - Art and Fiction

    SGBH 101 - Art and Fiction

    4.00 credit hours

    This "gateway" to the Humanities occupies the territory shared by visual art and storytelling. Students cross cultural and historical boundaries to look at the basic human impulses toward representation and self-expression in two distinct artistic modes. Students exercise both modes in critical reflections as well as expressive work designed to highlight the functions of figurative language and imagistic language, as well as what Leon Battista Alberti calls istoria in painting.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Arts, Global Understanding.
    iCon(s)
    Innovating the World.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGBH 102 - Music and Verse

    SGBH 102 - Music and Verse

    4.00 credit hours

    This "gateway" to the Humanities embraces two closely related arts: music and verse. Both reorganize our experience of time through heightened attention to a variety of formal parameters such as meter, rhythm, duration, silence and tone. In addition to critical examination of monuments in both arts from a wide range of historical and cultural contexts, students practice making verse and music in exercises designed to call attention to the interplay of formal constraint and freedom.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Arts, Ethical Dimensions, Global Understanding.
    iCon(s)
    Innovating the World, Thinking Globally.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGBH 201 - Philosophy and the Nature of Thought

    SGBH 201 - Philosophy and the Nature of Thought

    4.00 credit hours

    What is the nature of thought? Is it different in the guise of philosophical rigor as opposed to its character in everyday life? Reading classic and contemporary works from a variety of historical places and times, students grapple with one of the most fundamental questions confronting humanity.

    Prerequisite(s)

    SGBH 101 and SGBH 102.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Humanities, Writing Intensive.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGBH 202 - Theology: Structures of Meaning

    SGBH 202 - Theology: Structures of Meaning

    4.00 credit hours

    This culminating course in the Humanities sequence features works of structural complexity and a variety of kinds, including literature, music and architecture. But its overarching questions are ultimately theological, as students interrogate the role of ideas of the absolute and question in general how we generate meaning, whether in language, images or other forms.

    Prerequisite(s)

    SGBH 101 and SGBH 102.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Humanities.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGBS 101 - Models of Social Thought

    SGBS 101 - Models of Social Thought

    4.00 credit hours

    The disciplines of sociology, anthropology, and economics gave shape to many of the most fundamental concepts of social thought. The texts in this "gateway" to the Social Sciences focus on specifically social phenomena and the theories, normative and descriptive, that arise from the study of structural realities such as the state, the economy, race, gender and class. This course concludes by considering economics as a "model" social science, testing its methods and how its theoretical commitments purport either to describe or guide social action.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Social Science, Ethical Dimensions, U.S. Power Structures.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGBS 102 - The Western Political Tradition

    SGBS 102 - The Western Political Tradition

    4.00 credit hours

    The development of the Western political thought and of the US in particular can be traced from ancient through contemporary texts. This course addresses questions about the nature of laws and the authority of the state across this long tradition. Students study key terms in political thought, including freedom, liberty, equality, power and responsibility. The course concludes by looking deeply into challenges posed to the American political order over time by the movements for abolition, women's suffrage and civil rights.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Social Science, Ethical Dimensions, U.S. Power Structures.
    iCon(s)
    Engaging Civic Life.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGBN 101 - The Shape of the World

    SGBN 101 - The Shape of the World

    4.00 credit hours

    How do we understand how people in the past came to their beliefs about the natural world and pursue questions about it? This gateway to the Natural Sciences surveys general forms of ancient knowledge about nature. What questions were important? How did the answers form a system? Through texts, experiments and observations from the Presocratics to the late Medieval Cosmos, including contributions of Islam and other cultures, students study the early formation of holistic conceptions of nature and our relation to it.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Science, Global Understanding.
    iCon(s)
    Experiencing Place, Thinking Globally.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGBN 102 - What is Matter?

    SGBN 102 - What is Matter?

    4.00 credit hours

    Western ideas of matter proceed from the Presocratics through Aristotle, medieval scholastic-Aristotelianism and alchemy before being reshaped by the views enunciated by Bacon, which herald new practices and ideas (mathematization, experimentation and mechanism). Through texts, experiments and observations developed from ancient to modern times, students see a shift in fundamental questions, particularly regarding the nature of matter. Through historical accounts of the transition, students come to distinguish between the ancient project to understand the world and the modern project to predict and control it.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Science.
    iCon(s)
    Innovating Our World.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGBI 101 - The Classical Foundations: Logic and Math

    SGBI 101 - The Classical Foundations: Logic and Math

    4.00 credit hours

    Axiomatic systems are the foundation of mathematics and logic. Accordingly, we investigate the nature of proof using reasoning based on formal statements following the geometry of Euclid and the logical writings of Aristotle. Descartes' unification of algebra and plane geometry relying on his new approach to truth and analytic reasoning concludes the course.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Quantitative Analysis.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGBI 102 - The Modern Foundations of Logic and Math

    SGBI 102 - The Modern Foundations of Logic and Math

    4.00 credit hours

    The study of modern mathematics and logic begins with probability and the beginnings of the mathematical formalization of statistics based on the writings of Pascal and Hume. Students then investigate how the "Imaginary Geometry" of Lobachevsky examines the assumptions of Euclidean space, how Einstein's relativity theory corrects and expands the Newtonian world system and Godel's proof demonstrates the inherent limits of axiomatic reasoning.

    Prerequisite(s)

    SGBI 101.

    Cardinal Directions Designation(s)
    Quantitative Analysis.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGBI 451 - Integrative Studies: Ancient Early Modern World

    SGBI 451 - Integrative Studies: Ancient Early Modern World

    4.00 credit hours

    The Shimer Great Books School's senior capstone sequence explores the complex relationship between text and context. The course is organized around a series of interdisciplinary units that explore a particular historical and geographic setting through the lenses of the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. During this first semester, the course focuses on the premodern world (i.e. before the end of the 15th century).

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGBI 452 - Integrative Studies: The Modern World

    SGBI 452 - Integrative Studies: The Modern World

    4.00 credit hours

    During this second semester of the Shimer School's senior capstone sequence, students focus on the modern world from the 15th century to our contemporary moment. Again, students examine a series of interdisciplinary units that explore a particular historical and geographic setting through the lenses of the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGBI 496 - Thesis

    SGBI 496 - Thesis

    4.00 credit hours

    Students plan, research and carry out a senior thesis project centered on an important work, figure, movement or concept, which must be grounded in their major area but may span multiple disciplines. Students in each of the Shimer School majors (Humanities, Liberal Studies, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences) meet as a cohort to discuss writing strategies, report on their progress and present their work. Students in the Humanities and Liberal Studies majors have the option of completing a creative work, whether written or in some other medium as their thesis project.

    Prerequisite(s)

    Senior standing.

    Schedule Of Classes

Humanities Electives

Eight elective credits in Humanities:

  • Four credits that carry a prefix of SGBH at the 300-level or above
  • Four credits from the SGBH prefix or another approved Humanities course carrying a prefix outside the Shimer School.
Note:

*Consult with the Department Chair for a list of approved courses

Comprehensive Examinations

  • Pass the Shimer Great Books Basic Studies Comprehensive Exam (following successful completion of at least six of the required courses at the 100-level).
  • Pass the SGBH Humanities Area Studies Comprehensive Exam following completion of SGBH 201 and SGBH 202.

Additional Requirements for the B.A. Degree

Students must demonstrate elementary competence in a foreign language. For more information, see the B.A. Degree Requirements within the Academic Regulations section of this catalog.

Daniela Barberis

Visiting Assistant Professor in the Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books
+1 630 637 5485
Ann Dolinko
Ann Dolinko

Visiting Professor in the Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books
+1 630 637 5483
James Donovan, PhD

Visiting Professor in the Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books
Aron Dunlap

Visiting Assistant Professor in the Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books
Adam Kotsko

Visiting Assistant Professor in the Shimer School
Shimer Great Books
+1 630 637 5486
Stuart Patterson

Visiting Associate Professor in the Shimer Great Books School; Chairperson, Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books
+1 630 637 5487
Harold Stone
Harold Stone

Visiting Professor in the Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books

The Shimer Great Books School at North Central College provides the tools, contexts, and habits of mind that make lifelong learning possible.  At the same time you will have immediate avenues to complement your studies with experiences that will prepare you for a host of professional opportunities designed to match your long-term interests, among them undergraduate research, co-curricular initiatives and internships.

Internships

North Central’s internship program helps you apply what you’ve learned in the classroom in a workplace setting. Our location provides you with access to both a world-class city and a booming local high-tech corridor. From Fortune 500 companies to dynamic start-ups on the cutting edge, there’s bound to be a workplace well suited to your graduate school interests and career goals.

Careers
A Shimer School of Great Books education teaches students the critical thinking necessary to handle extraordinary intellectual challenges. Shimer graduates have had successful careers in a wide range of professions, including:

  • Educators
  • Attorneys
  • Physicians
  • Wall Street analysts
  • Financial advisors
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Designers
  • Engineers
  • Artists
  • Writers
  • Marketers
  • And more.

Post-graduate
Shimer also ranks among the top colleges and universities in the percentage of graduates who earn PhDs.

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