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New humanities program aims to produce more Black liberal arts students

Howard launched its newest program catered to humanities and social sciences majors and welcomed its very first cohort of freshman students with an induction ceremony in late July.

Trinitee Oliver congratulates the Karsh STEM program and H3SP cohort on their induction on July 27 in the Blackburn Ballroom. (Eliana Lewis/The Hilltop)

The Humanities and Social Sciences Program (H3SP) has begun its inaugural year at Howard University.

The program, modeled after the KARSH Stem Program, aims to equip the next generation of Black scholars to increase the number of Black professors and scholars within the liberal arts field. While also creating an undergraduate-to-doctorate pipeline for students pursuing PhDs in the humanities and social sciences field. 

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Rubin Patterson, commented on the “disproportionate share of attention and resources” STEM fields receive from university administrators around the country, and the significance of both the KARSH and H3SP program. 

“Although that is important, humanities and social science professionals are at least as indispensable, due to their deep understanding of human and social history, our contemporary society and how human culture and societies change over time,” Patterson said. “To put a finer point on it, we need more deep-thinking humanists and social scientists to produce knowledge, produce cultural products and build institutions to save and advance our democracy.”

According to the program’s website, “HBCUs are the only large class of schools where undergraduate humanities enrollment has held steady since 2008, as well as the only institutional class where a majority of students continue to report that ‘developing a meaningful philosophy of life’ should be a major priority for college education.”

Director of the KARSH Stem Program and H3SP, Dr. Ronald Smith, hopes implementing this program will influence scholars, from both humanities and STEM fields, to consider the human impact of their work as students and future doctoral candidates.

“There are two things we’re trying to do principally,” he said. “One is we’re trying to encourage students to learn, grow and develop academically, but we think it’s also equally important to have them learn, grow and develop socially.” 

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Students in the incoming cohort hold various majors within the College of Arts and Sciences, the Chadwick Boseman College of Fine Arts, the Cathy School of Communications and the School of Business. As long as a student holds a major within the eligible degree programs, they qualify for the program. A full list of eligibility degree programs can be found on the program’s information page.

H3SP freshmen cohort at their induction in the Blackburn Ballroom. (Left to right) Payton Garcia, Leah Peterson, Betty Petersson, Bryani Sparrow, Ama Baffour and Kameron Hayes. (Eliana Lewis/The Hilltop)

The inaugural freshmen cohort celebrated their induction into the Humanities and Social Sciences program on July 27, following the end of their mandatory six-week Summer Bridge Program. Completion of the program signals their official entrance into H3SP. 

Leah Peterson, a freshman economics major, found an email inviting her to apply for the program in her inbox and decided to apply given her interest in pursuing a Ph.D. 

“I did more research and found out it was a branch off of the KARSH Stem Scholars program, which has done phenomenal work in developing scholars who will pursue their Ph.D.s in the STEM field. So, I thought why not just apply,” she said.

She described her induction into the program as a “mix of emotions.”

“It is a little bit nerve-wracking because you’re the first, so you have to make sure you’re laying a phenomenal foundation for the future groups to follow, but I think it’s also empowering,” Peterson said.

The Summer Bridge program provides scholars the opportunity to live on campus and take introductory courses and various seminars, including a College Success Seminar, that seeks to prepare students for the academic rigor and personal challenges they may face as young adults.

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During the six-week program, students have a strict routine from morning to night. Beginning their day around 7:30 a.m., students return to their dorms for a mandatory study hall from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. It is only after 10:30 p.m. that students are allotted an hour limit of being on their phones.

Leila Diallo, an Afro-American studies and sociology double major from Covington, Georgia, said the Summer Bridge Program helped her prepare for the upcoming fall semester. 

“I genuinely feel like I’m coming into the fall semester with so much more knowledge and preparation and confidence than I would have, had I not had this opportunity,” she said.

Like the KARSH Stem program, which aims to increase the number of Black students earning STEM PhDs, this program is designed to provide a diverse educational experience for the incoming cohort and promises to ensure their future. In addition to providing educational opportunities and mentorship, the program also aims at providing financial support to these scholars by offering financial aid scholarships from 75 percent to 100 percent tuition assistance.

Those interested in the program must first apply for enrollment into the university using the Common Application. In addition, a separate application must be completed to apply for H3SP. Interested applicants must also provide a copy of their high school transcript along with three recommendation letters. Test scores are currently optional for incoming students. 

Further information can be found on the official Humanities and Social Sciences website.

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Copy edited by Diamond Hamm


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