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A Tale Of Two Programs: Integrating Humanities And Engineering

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.46.1 - 2.46.3



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Paper Authors

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Barbara Olds

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Ronald Miller

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3561

A Tale of Two Programs: Integrating Humanities and Engineering

Barbara M. Olds, Ronald L. Miller Colorado School of Mines


In this paper we will describe two programs at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) which integrate the humanities and social sciences with engineering. The first, HumEn (Humanities/Engineering Integration), is a small-scale, single-course program which has been in place since 1988; the second, the McBride Honors Program in Public Affairs for Engineers, is a large-scale program involving about 10 percent of the CSM undergraduate student body and approximately 40 faculty each year; the program has been in place since 1979. We believe that both of these programs provide viable models for integrating the humanities with engineering. In our paper we will briefly describe the two programs and then discuss their strengths and weaknesses as models for integration.

The HumEn Program

The HumEn (Humanities/Engineering Integration) Program was started in 1988 with help from a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Its original purpose was to explore innovative methods of integrating humanities directly into existing, required undergraduate engineering courses. In HumEn courses we help engineering students make appropriate connections between the humanities and their technical work, connections that will carry over into their professional lives. Courses in the program are team-taught by a member of the engineering faculty and a member of the Liberal Arts and International Studies faculty, each an expert in his/her own field, each knowledgeable in the others’.

As the two faculty who received the funding from NEH, we have been involved in the HumEn Program since it was first taught in Spring 1989. The course has evolved over the years from a single course with a chemical engineering designation which carried 4 credits rather than the usual 3, to two separate 3-credit courses (one in chemical engineering and one in humanities which were co-requisites for each other), to a completely stand-alone three-credit humanities course that accepts students from any engineering major on campus but is not specifically aligned with any. These modifications have been the result of both changing politics and changing curriculum at CSM, but we feel that HumEn has maintained its integrity and is as strong a course now as it ever was. A list of the features that allowed us to institutionalize the course follows:

¾The two of us are dedicated to the HumEn concept and to keeping the program alive. Although other faculty have occasionally taught HumEn courses, we are the champions who sustain it. Though many people view this kind of reliance on individual “champions” as a

Olds, B., & Miller, R. (1997, June), A Tale Of Two Programs: Integrating Humanities And Engineering Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6810

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