By introducing students to the interrelation of ideas and society, Comparative History of Ideas demonstrates the need to consider intellectual problems from many perspectives. The goal of the program is to provide the tools of critical thinking to each student. The program hopes to engender an attitude of personal engagement and creativity within students. We encourage them to think for themselves, and to think critically about the world and the categories we use to understand it. In addition, the program seeks to inculcate a sense of the importance of a disciplined and interdisciplinary methodology as a means to investigate various issues, while at the same time revealing the inherent weaknesses and limitations of any system.
The participating members (students, staff and faculty) of the Program in the Comparative History of Ideas are engaged in a collective endeavor to construct a dynamic, creative learning community that will mobilize our collective and individual passions. We encourage our members to pursue the ideal of self-knowledge collaboratively through informed and self-conscious participation in the changing world in which their selves are shaped and which they will shape for their own and future generations.
CHID is widely recognized across campus for a number of contributions. We have created an exemplary curriculum for a problem-oriented interdisciplinary program, and nurtured a unique undergraduate culture. CHID has produced students recognized across the university for their inquiring, experimental, totally engaged participation in the life of the mind, their outstanding intellectual achievements, and their passionate commitment to asserting ownership of both the content and the process of their education. Additionally, CHID is noted for creating a laboratory for curricular innovation, for the "internationalization" of undergraduate education, for pedagogical creativity in learner-based methods of teaching and research, for extensive cross-unit collaborations, and for its focus on engaged community learning and public service.
As the program has developed and grown, we have been guided by a number of general principles:
- The questions are the content.
- Interdisciplinarity is disciplined knowledge.
- Students are the agents of their own education.
- Education is a dialogical process within a learning community.
- Experience is the best teacher.
- Critical thinking and self-understanding are tied to knowledge of the world.
From these principles have emerged the educational practices, the institutional innovations and above all, that reflective, questioning, engaged "CHID student." We believe these qualities have immensely enriched the undergraduate life of this university. Many people think that this kind of intense, engaged community of learning is not possible within the context of a large, urban, commuter-oriented research university. For CHID, the large university is an opportunity for collaboration and exploration - an enabling condition for, rather than a hindrance to, passion, perspective and community in undergraduate education.
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