For New Students

The Humanities program brings together first-year students with professors from many of Davidson's academic departments, including art, classics, English, German, history, music, philosophy, political science, psychology, and religion.

These professors agree that no single discipline can respond fully to long-debated and still-urgent questions:

  • How have humans negotiated the competing demands of individual and community?
  • How have artists and writers represented the divine?
  • How have humans understood their place in the natural environment?
  • How have humans used stories to explain their world, to define communities, and to transmit values?

The faculty and students of the Humanities program address such questions in two different tracks:

  • The Western Tradition (Four semesters: HUM 150, 151W, 250, 251)
  • Cultures and Civilizations (Two semesters: HUM 160, 161W)


Enrollment is limited to 64 students in the Western Tradition and 32 students in Cultures and Civilizations. Entry is possible only at the beginning of your first year. When more than the maximum number of students seek enrollment, a lottery determines selection. To sign up for The Western Tradition, place HUM 150 on your course preference form (WebTree); to sign up for Cultures and Civilizations, place HUM 160 on the form. Those who are enrolled in either HUM 150 or HUM 160 will be divided later into discussion sections.


As you can see, deciding whether to enroll in the Humanities program requires some deliberation. You can sign up for the program only in your first semester at Davidson; each track involves a commitment over more than one semester; and each offers rare opportunities for examining important works from across the disciplines. If you have questions, please email Neil Lerner at, chair of the Humanities program and professor of  music.