A general humanities requirement is considered by many of the world’s top universities as an essential feature of any undergraduate program of study. General humanities courses provide an important opportunity for students to prepare for truly university level thinking by teaching them certain analytic and critical reading skills, and by teaching them to question texts, professors, and one another.
Our courses, HUM 111 (Antiquity) and HUM 112 (Modernity), through careful reading and close discussion of the works of major thinkers and literary artists help to prepare students for a life of intellectual exploration and expression, and go beyond providing merely professional training. The skills students learn to use and develop in these courses are not job specific, but are essential for a successful career in any field and for a productive life. Such general critical skills are especially important today, when the rapid development in technology, theory and applied sciences often leaves less broadly prepared students poorly equipped to adjust to an increasingly dynamic and fluid labor market. Recent studies have shown, for example, that thirty percent of college graduates in the United States are likely to eventually work in jobs that do not exist yet.
In keeping with these views, and with Bilkent’s vision of offering its students a truly world-class education, Prof. Ali Doğramacı initiated the HUM requirement in 1999, originally only for students in the engineering faculty, but since then, the opportunity of participating in these valuable courses has spread to many other faculties and departments that offer B.A. and B.S. degrees at Bilkent.
The mandatory status of the HUM sequence at many undergraduate programs at Bilkent University reflects the important contributions such classes make to the students who take them. These important skills and attitudes are also recognized by international accreditation agencies, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) who require accredited institutions to provide students with classes that help develop things like:
• “The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context”
• “Critical and evaluative skills”
• “Awareness and commitment to other’s opinions and beliefs”
• Awareness of the “ethical components” of their professions.
• A recognition for the need for, and the ability to engage in life-long learning
• Ability to “communicate effectively”
• Knowledge of contemporary issues
The academic staff of the Program in Cultures, Civilizations & Ideas are exclusively responsible for teaching these classes here at Bilkent, and are carefully selected for their experience and dedication to teaching, and excellence of training and knowledge in the humanistic disciplines. All present and former faculty members in CCI hold doctorate degrees in the humanities from the world’s most prestigious universities (Princeton, Yale, Oxford, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago, Berkeley, Columbia, etc.), and represent a truly outstanding resource for the university and its undergraduate students.