Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Humanities Colloquium?

    The Humanities Colloquium is an enhanced way of doing three first-year courses at St. F.X. It is an introduction to some of the great books of Western Civilization, taught through three special sections of English, Philosophy, and History or Art History. The Humanities Colloquium is open to any first-year student who is enrolled full-time in the Faculty of Arts at St. F.X.

  2. Why do we call this the Humanities Colloquium?

    The word “humanities” designates the disciplines that are especially concerned with meaning and value in human lives: Philosophy, Literature, History, Art History, Religious Studies, and Languages. These are the disciplines in which we try to answer the ultimate questions about human existence, to study the best in human artistic achievement, and to discover our intellectual heritage. The word “colloquium” (pronounced KO-LOW-KWEE-UM) is a word taken from Latin that means “conversation”. We chose this word for the program because we want our students to get into some serious conversations: with the likes of Plato, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Descartes, Nietzsche, and other great authors, but also with their professors and fellow students. And we expect that you will have conversations across the disciplines -- to see how each discipline illuminates the others.

  3. How are the courses in Humanities Colloquium coordinated?

    When you select the Humanities Colloquium, a space will be reserved for you in three special sections of our year-long, first-year courses: for 2017-18, these three courses will be English 100, History 101/102, and Philosophy 100. These sections will be entirely restricted to the students in the Humanities Colloquium, and they will be taught in a chronologically coordinated way. When you are learning about the ancient Greek polis in History, at the same time you will be studying Aristotle in Philosophy and reading Greek tragedy and comedy in English. The same will be true when you study the Middle Ages, the modern era, and contemporary culture. The three professors in the Colloquium will be coordinating their lectures and discussions so that the material learned in one course will be used and reinforced in the other two. They will teach together and in each other’s classes, and there will be no conflicts in due dates of assignments, because the assignments for the three courses will be coordinated.

  4. Will I take other courses in the first year? What are my options?

    The three courses in the Humanities Colloquium make up three of your five first-year courses You need to choose two other full-year courses, or the equivalent number of half-year courses, to fill out your first year of study. One of these other full-year courses, or the equivalent number of half-year courses, should be either from the Social Sciences or a second language, and the other course could be from any area. You may even choose a course in Science (although there are high school prerequisites for some science courses).

  5. If I enroll in the Humanities Colloquium, in what subjects can I major?

    The Humanities Colloquium provides no restrictions at all for future majors. You may pursue a major in any subject in the Faculty of Arts. Students who have taken the HC have gone on to major in all subjects offered by the St. FX Faculty of Arts.

  6. What is the special residence arrangement for the Humanities Colloquium?

    A block of rooms will be reserved for students in the Humanities Colloquium in Mount St. Bernard Residence. This residence will be renovated this summer before you move in. All rooms are single rooms, and there will be very pleasant lounges and kitchens on each floor. If you are in the HC, you will have the opportunity to study and to live with a group of students who are motivated to give serious study to the humanities. As students from previous years of the HC have said, the residential part of the HC creates a sort of extended family: the students are there to help one another academically and socially.

  7. If I wish to be in the Humanities Colloquium, am I required to live in Mount St. Bernard?

    No. Every year approximately one quarter of the HC students elect not to live in the HC residence. The choice is yours. We have found the shared experience in residence to be beneficial academically and socially, but we understand that there are good reasons for students to live in one of our other residences or even off campus. Students in HC who live elsewhere are fully a part of the Colloquium.

  8. How do I secure my room in Mount St. Bernard?

    If you select the Humanities Colloquium and you wish to live in Mount St. Bernard, you must complete an application for residence and submit it by the deadline. You should indicate on your application that you are an HC student.

  9. What are the benefits to enrolling in the Humanities Colloquium?

    There will be many advantages to the Humanities Colloquium. First, you will study three complementary, not competing, courses: each one will reinforce the other two. Second, you will receive an education at the feet of the great minds and artists of Western Culture: Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Boethius, St. Thomas Aquinas, Chaucer, Leonardo da Vinci, St. Thomas More, Marlow, Shakespeare, Milton, Descartes, Hume, Swift, Voltaire, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and others. Third, you will make friends with a special group of first-year students – students like you who think that this kind of study is important. Finally, it will be a lot of fun. In addition to regular classes, we plan discussions, lectures, and social events, some of which take place in the residence. We want to show you how exciting the intellectual life is.

  10. Is the Humanities Colloquium extra work?

    No. We intend the courses to be challenging, and we want you to read some great authors who will make you think, and think hard. The course requirements in the HC courses, however, are similar to those of other first-year courses that you might take in the humanities.

  11. How do I enroll in the Humanities Colloquium?

    That’s easy; you can send an email message to Sarah McKenna in the Admissions Department, smckenna@stfx.ca, or you can call Admissions at 902-867-2219. Enrollment in the Humanities Colloquium requires nothing beyond being admitted into the BA Program at St. F.X. Any student admitted to Arts at X is welcome to enroll in the HC.

  12. Whose portrait is on the HC webpage?

    The portrait is of Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536), one of the greatest of the Renaissance humanist scholars. Erasmus believed that education in the humanities can produce the sort of scholar who is cultured, rigorous, and articulate – and who for those reasons can make a real difference in the world. If Erasmus were your contemporary, he would have enrolled in the Humanities Colloquium. Hence, our slight modification of the portrait is, we feel, entirely justified. The work is by Hans Holbein, The Younger (1497-1543), who also created famous portraits of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, St. Thomas More, and Thomas Cromwell.

  13. Any Questions?

    If you have any questions, please send an email message to Dr. Steven Baldner, sbaldner@stfx.ca, or call him: 902-867-2115; or email the Coordinator, Prof. C. Byrne, cbyrne@stfx.ca.