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Academics & Programs
The academic departments in the College of Liberal Arts represent the long tradition of scholarly and artistic endeavor in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Our departments, including the Liberal Arts Exploration Program, offer students engaging ways to understand the human and social world, and their place in it.
School of Communication
The School of Communication offers BS degrees in Advertising & Public Relations, Journalism, and Professional & Technical Communication; and an MS degree in Communication & Media Technologies. Communication students in all programs gain proficiency as writers and speakers, study and work with traditional and new media, become adept with communication technologies, and study a related professional field. In addition, they complete either an original, scholarly research project or, in Journalism, a senior project and gain work experience through RIT's cooperative education program. Hundreds of department alumni are engaged in successful careers around the globe.
The study of Criminal Justice combines theoretical perspectives with practical experience. As students study in the areas of crime, criminal behavior, social control mechanisms, administration, planning, and management, the emphasis is on problem solving techniques based on the rapidly growing body of research in the field, as well as students' own guided research.
The Department of Economics at RIT offers a hands on educational approach to the study of economic development and business operation both in the United States and around the world. Students in the program conduct co-op assignments and real world research that contributes to both the development and implementation of new processes in a host of fields. Areas of study include microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics, environmental economics, and statistical analysis and modeling.
The English Department in the College of Liberal Arts at RIT offers courses in areas of Linguistics, narrative and poetic genres, English and American literatures, cultural analysis, writing about science and technology, world literatures (including Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and Latin American literature) as well as a variety of courses in creative writing. The Department also offers minors in Literary and Cultural Studies, Creative Writing, Writing Studies and Science Writing. The faculty of the department are actively engaged in research in areas of literary and cultural studies that inform its place in an institute of technology. These areas include science writing for non-expert audiences, linguistics, film studies, feminism, science fiction, and the cultural and literary aspects of globalization. Furthermore, faculty in creative writing have published books of poetry, memoirs, and fiction. The department also sponsors literary and cultural events on and off campus in Rochester.
The History Department prepares RIT students to succeed in their professional careers. The skills they acquire in their history courses - broad perspectives on human experience, critical appraisal of sources, effective expression of ideas, and identification of comparisons and contrasts - are essential in a wide range of professions, including business, education, journalism, law, politics, government, and public service. Cultivating these skills also prepares each student for a lifetime of meaningful contributions as a citizen of local, national, and world communities.
Liberal Arts Exploration Program
The Liberal Arts Exploration Program is an undeclared option designed to allow students to complete liberal arts, mathematics and science required courses while actively pursuing career exploration and receiving individualized academic advising. This option offers students the flexibility and time to explore a variety of majors within the College of Liberal Arts without delaying their graduation.
Modern Languages and Cultures
The Department of Modern Languages and Cultures (MLC) is a vigorous intellectual community of students, faculty, and staff that together engage in deepening the understanding of languages and cultures of the world. The Department is committed to Student Success and to preparing students for active participation in a Global Society, by providing the instruction of highest standard in modern languages and cultures. Through gaining an understanding of cultures outside of North America, students also learn to appreciate the enrichment that Diversity brings. The Department offers ten language programs: Arabic, ASL, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Our programs strive to prepare students for an ever-changing world, where a multicultural global society continues to develop.
Performing Arts and Visual Culture
The Department of Performing Arts and Visual Culture is home to the Museum Studies degree program as well as curricula and programs in music, theatre, archive development, and visual cultural studies. The department offers students opportunity both in class and out to participate in musical ensembles, theatre performances, and other experiential learning opportunities. The faculty come from a diverse range of scholarly, performance, and creative backgrounds and are highly respected scholars in their respective fields.
In the Philosophy Department we think it's important to learn how to discuss big questions that don't yet have clear-cut answers. Depending on the course, these are questions like: What kind of life should you lead? What makes the difference between ethical and unethical actions? To what extent are we responsible for others in the world, both human and nonhuman? How can philosophy help us understand religious and cultural perspectives other than our own? What is the difference between really knowing something and merely having an opinion? Is knowledge possible? To what extent are our choices the result of heredity and environment? How free are we, really?
In our classes we work hard to clarify these questions. We examine possible answers. We learn how to talk intelligently about difficult topics. Because we prepare students to read, write, and think critically, philosophy students have done extremely well getting into law, business, and graduate school.
The Department of Political Science provides RIT students with specific knowledge of the operation and importance of local, state, federal, and international governmental and political institutions. In addition, the program offers a philosophical and ethical perspective on the meaning of government, democracy and citizen engagement. This provides all students at RIT with the opportunity to better understand the political and governmental forces affecting scientific, engineering and technological innovation.
The Department of Psychology offers cutting edge research and education programs that are advancing study in a host of fields. These include eye tracking/perception, treatment of mental illness, engineering psychology, and school psychology. Students in the program have the opportunity to work in the field and conduct real world research as undergraduates, while also choosing from a host of graduate degrees in a wide range of psychological disciplines.
The public policy program at RIT explores the intersection of public policy, technology and our natural world. The program provides students with an opportunity to integrate their interests in science, technology, government, economics and other social science fields.
Science, Technology, and Society (STS)
"STS"–is the interdisciplinary field that studies science and technology in their social content and context. It is motivated by the belief that understanding science and technology, past and present, is both socially important and intellectually challenging. The STS field thus offers unique opportunities for bridging the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering.
Sociology and Anthropology
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology is unique in its focus on global, urban, and community change. Both sociology and anthropology are academic disciplines dedicated to the understanding of human social life. Sociology is the study of society and the social forces that affect human behavior. A central goal of sociology is to provide insights into how our own lives are influenced by the social relationships around us. Anthropology is the study of culture past and present from a global perspective. One of the goals of anthropology is to promote understanding among peoples -- an increasingly important venture in our vastly interconnected global community. Our department offers two majors: International Studies (B.S.) and Urban & Community Studies (B.S.).
Women's & Gender Studies
The Women's & Gender Studies department offers an interdisciplinary and multicultural series of courses that explore and question the intersections of gender, sexuality, culture, ethnicity and race. Courses are taught by faculty members from various departments and fields of study. The Women's & Gender Studies program offers a minor.