Humanities I examines the search for moral, social, and political alternatives and meaning in the institutions, culture, and literature of Western Civilization from its beginning to 1600. The two-unit elective course examines the philosophical and religious traditions of the ancient near east, Greece, and Rome. Together these courses provide a comprehensive glance at the interplay of the two major currents in the evolution of Western Civilization: Greek rationality and religious faith.
A distinguishing feature of this program is that students taking it are not only made intimate with some of the great works of the period, they also have the unique opportunity to be studying at the corresponding location where the era flourished: students are in Crete during the study of ancient civilizations, in Athens for the classical Greek Civilization, in Rome for the Roman World era, in Andalucía for Medieval Ages and Islam, and in Florence for the Renaissance. The program is uniquely enhanced with side trips to places that have had a pivotal role in the history of Western Civilization, such as Knossoss and Mycenae, with visits to some of the most famous museums in the world, including the Vatican Museum and the Uffizi Gallery, and with tours of renowned local sites like the Acropolis in Athens, the Coliseum of Rome, the Duomo of Florence, and the Alhambra Palace of Granada. The end result is the educational experience of a lifetime.
Classes meet on designated mornings (4 - 5 days per week) at the student resident facilities (or in lecture halls, where available) for intense (2 - 3 hour) discussion and analysis of assigned texts. Afternoons and evenings are generally free, but several instructor-escorted local activities are available. In addition, there is ample opportunity for individual or instructor-led one and two-day trips to places renowned for their beauty and/or historical significance as, for example, the island of Santorini, Venice, and the Tuscany countryside.
The program is highly mobile. Students spend a week or more at each of the program's five primary locations, namely Crete, Athens, Rome, Andalucía, and Florence, but they also take several educational side trips. While in Greece, the program includes one-day trips to the Minoan palaces of Knossos and Malia, and a multi-day mainland trip to the historical sites of Meteora, Delphi, Olympia, Mycenae, Epidaurus, and the Sparta/Mystra/Monemvasia area. While in Italy, the program includes a multi-day trip to the Pompeii/Amalfi Coast area, and one or more day trips to famed Tuscany Medieval cities like Siena and San Gimignano. The visit to Spain involves a multi-day trip to Moorish Andalucía (Granada, Cordoba, Seville). There are several visits to some of the world's top museums and archaeological sites and, generally, the entrance fees for these are also included in the program cost.