The Governor’s School highlights connections between and among artistic and academic disciplines. In their studies in the arts and in their academic classes, students will learn both to go deeply into their specialized disciplines and to think broadly about how these fit together. Through a range of activities and coursework, the Humanities program, led by Dr. Jennifer Thomas, sets up time and a structure for this kind of "big picture" thinking. The Humanities course emphasizes the arts in context so that students have an opportunity to study the ways in which the arts speak to each other as they also connect to specific times, places and people. The point of view on the past is also a conversation with contemporary culture as students examine continuities with current artistic and intellectual creativity. The course is also designed to help students reflect on their experiences in this community as they learn from peers, staff and faculty throughout the school.

The Humanities re-energize students and engage them in a community surrounding their art discipline. It is a way to connect with others, while re-connecting with their art. The guiding questions discussed throughout their Humanities experience are:

  • Who are we as artists?
  • Why do we do what we do?
  • Why do the arts have value for society?
Humanities classes feature seminar-style discussions that emphasize (and help students develop) shared understandings of: the role of the artist as a citizen; the nature of the humanities; the role of values in studying art; the nature of art; and the role of the critic. All students learn fundamentals of art appreciation in the five arts disciplines of the school. This focus on the arts connects with a study of several eras of Western culture: Greece/Rome; the Middle Ages; the Renaissance; the Enlightenment; Romanticism; and Modernism. These units establish a context of historical, scientific, religious, political, and social connections, and this sequence introduces students to key ideas, texts, and questions they will pursue and complicate in college. Regular and sustained writing instruction is also central to the course, which culminates in an independent research project in the humanities.

Since it is fundamental to the mission of the school, the successful completion of Humanities is required each year students are enrolled in the Governor's School. The course carries a numerical/letter grade, which is calculated in the GPA, with students earning ˝ unit of credit each year. As outlined in the School Profile, passing the Humanities course each year is also a requirement for the Scholars Diploma.