The College of Arts and Letters works to create, document, disseminate, and question knowledge about human experience and thought. It is defined by a deep commitment to rigorous intellectual debate in a diverse academic community and to the value of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approaches to major issues and ideas.
CAL educates individuals to think creatively about the challenges of our time. Its faculty members conduct original and ambitious research in the humanities, social sciences, ethnic and gender studies, languages and cultures, and STEM fields such as geography and archaeology.
Its students, under the direction, mentorship, and academic supervision of faculty experts, develop specialized knowledge in their chosen disciplines, critical thinking, clear and effective writing, habits of lifelong learning, awareness of and sensitivity to issues of social justice, and the ability to understand and interpret human experiences, past and present. They leave the college fully enabled to pursue their chosen pathways with distinction, and become independent minded, socially responsible, and globally aware citizens.
In CAL courses, students investigate the rich and diverse experiences of people in place and time, examining cultural expressions and practices, languages, social institutions, politics, human-environment relationships, technological innovations, and more.
Among the Romans, "liberal arts" were the sophisticated skills of free citizens who were preparing for public and professional service. These skills were based on "letters" that contained writing on subjects and disciplines that we now call humanities and social sciences. Humanists study the intellectual and artistic accomplishments that are unique to human beings. Social scientists study the events and activities of human societies.