Mission and History of the College of Arts and Letters

The College of Arts and Letters at Stevens engages in research and scholarship at the intersection of science, technology, the arts, and humanities with the objective of having a positive and long-lasting impact on society and the world.

Our courses enable students to become knowledgeable about the development of science and technology in the past, while acquiring the skills necessary to become proficient both in their use in the present and their creation in the future.

This is achieved in the following ways:

  • By educating engineers, technologists, entrepreneurs, and scientists in a manner that enables them to become literate, articulate, creative, and ethically responsible.
  • By educating humanists and artists to be knowledgeable in the history of and advances in science and technology, so they may become leaders in the fields that encompass them.

Most important, we emphasize the ways one can bridge the theoretical and practical in productive and meaningful ways. 

 

History

Humanities and liberal-arts education have played a central role at Stevens Institute of Technology since its inception in 1870. The founders and leaders of Stevens created a curriculum and made explicit an identity for Stevens as a center for Liberal-Technical education. That early curriculum demanded four years of courses in literature, philosophy, and languages in addition to rigorous training in the sciences and laboratory practice. A formal Department of Humanities was created in 1928 and has had a continuous history ever since. Expanded and developed under Professor Jack Fife, cultural historian Richard Humphrey, and historian of science Harold Dorn, the Humanities Department was gradually transformed into a small liberal arts college within the larger context of Stevens Institute.

Every undergraduate at Stevens takes a required series of humanities courses. Under philosopher Carol Gould, in 1989 the Humanities Department introduced B.A. programs in literature, history, philosophy, and the social sciences. The creation of separate schools of engineering, science, and technology management within Stevens in 1996 further impacted the Humanities Department and set it on its own course. In 2003, the Humanities Department was reconstituted as the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences with programs devoted to history, literature, philosophy, and the social sciences. The initiatives of the next few years evidence the evolving character and mission of the Division, notably the creation of new majors and minors in Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies, Gender and Cultural Studies, Art and Technology, and Music and Technology.

In 2007, the Stevens Board of Trustees, as part of a larger institutional realignment, voted to establish a College of Arts & Letters for the Institute. This new College, fashioned out of the former Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, represents a bold step for the Institute and for the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts at Stevens. With its rich history the College of Arts & Letters is devoted, unlike any other, to traditional humanities and liberal arts education and research as seen through the lens of science and technology. This distinctive emphasis is especially appropriate for today's world, and it befits a leading institution of scientific and technological research and education.