Welcome to the Department of Arts and Humanities at Teachers College, Columbia University.  I am delighted to greet you and offer some observations on our academic community.

This is the largest department at Teachers College.  The Department of Arts and Humanities  provides the foundation of the liberal arts across the fields of history, philosophy, language and literature, fine and performing arts, and cultural studies.  Comprising 10 unique programs, we interweave artistic practice, inquiry, creative scholarship and research in applied linguistics (including Teaching English as a Second Language or TESOL), art and art education, arts administration, bilingual and bicultural education, dance education, English Education, history and education, music and music education, philosophy and education, and social studies.

The Department of Arts and Humanities provides a space for freedom of thought along with critical inquiry into the ways in which humans live in the world.  Faculty and students in the department engage in powerful work which transforms, teaches, inspires, and enriches lives, with a strong commitment to social justice and racial equity.  Thinking creatively and deeply, we reason and ask questions to find insight into most every aspect of life.  The humanities are woven tightly into daily life.  Their transformative power may go unnoticed  – a song you keep hearing, a book you can’t put down, an image that you can’t take your eyes from.  The experiences that change individuals’ outlook or transform their lives are often found in the humanities.

Research in the Department of Arts and Humanities contributes to knowledge and social action locally, nationally, and globally.  We seek to understand culture and communities from around the globe, as well as here in New York.  We investigate how the Arts are constructed and reconstructed, consumed, conserved, and reimagined, while at the same time revealing the contexts that have shaped, and will continue to shape, the humanities and education.  The Department provides a fertile ground for interdisciplinary research both in the U.S. and internationally.  Above all, it supports deep learning and cultivates open-mindedness, creativity, and innovative spirits.

The mission of the Department of Arts and Humanities is to promote engagement with intellectual and creative ideas and to nurture learning leading to a broad, well-rounded knowledge base fused with robust, usable skills along with habits of mind that can directly contribute to making our world a thriving place to live and flourish.

The Department of Arts and Humanities contributes to Teachers College with academic inquiries on the forefront of addressing current educational, humanistic, and artistic issues.  Our department is more than the sum of its parts because of all the interconnections and synergies in our work.  We stand together through the many ways we collaborate on behalf of our students and our fields of knowledge.  We see our collective inquiry and practice—in visual arts, music, dance, arts administration, English and literacies, applied linguistics, bilingualism, social studies, history, and philosophy—as aesthetic, creative, and critical disciplines as well as subjects for teaching, learning, and constructive efforts to create more just societies around the globe. 

Kelly Parkes,  Chair

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