The Bette Ellis O’Conor Humanities Program comprises a community of scholars at Notre Dame Preparatory School dedicated to intellectual pursuit that transcends the boundaries of usual study. The program integrates curricula that are normally separated, allowing students to study in a collegial and dynamic environment that elicits passion for ideas and learning. An exciting alternative course of study in which interdisciplinary connections are the goal, the Humanities Program allows students to explore the relationships between disciplines, particularly Art, English, Music, Religion and Social Studies. Examining critical issues and ideas, the program encourages dialogue and diversity of perspective.
During freshman year, all students are introduced to interdisciplinary study in their World Cultures classes. Art enrichment activities demonstrate the rich possibility of investigating a topic from multiple disciplinary perspectives, thereby allowing students to choose whether the program is the right choice for their learning styles.
Sophomore students in the program embark on a journey of American studies. Joining Social Studies and English curricula, the course challenges students to consider the nature of America and how the relationship among art, literature, history, music, and religion has shaped both the nation and its inhabitants.
Shifting to a focus on the world, the junior year couples a study of world religions with an emphasis on world literature. Students study the global society in which they live, seeking the knowledge and wisdom such a global view provides.
The Humanities Capstone course is a senior elective for participants of the program. Students collectively choose a focus of study, giving them the power to shape their own intellectual path. Whether the topic is the nature of evil, the purpose of art, the role of fear or the experience of time, students explore deeply a concept of particular interest to the class. All students complete a capstone project which allows them to incorporate their specific interests in responding to the key elements of the course topic. Paired with a faculty mentor for the project, each student challenges the holistic faculties she has developed throughout the program and encourages the kind of scholarship and collaboration that is normally reserved for college courses.
Culmination of Humanities Program
There will be an evening presentation in May to which parents, administrators and the benefactors of the program will be invited. Students will present a summary of their projects and have them displayed in the lobby for viewing. At that time, students will be given certificates of participation in the program.