Jun 25, 2024  
2023-2024 Academic Catalog 
2023-2024 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Department of Humanities

Office: Clark Hall 419

Telephone: 408-924-4463

Email: humanities@sjsu.edu

Website: www.sjsu.edu/hum


J. Todd Ormsbee
Shannon Rose Riley, Chair 
Jennifer Rycenga
Susan Verducci-Sandford

Associate Professors

Funie Hsu
Cynthia Rostankowski

Assistant Professors

Erica Eva Colmenares
Daniel Lanza Rivers
Kerri J. Malloy
Arthur Zárate

Welcome to the Humanities Department

The Home of Creative and Transdisciplinary Studies!

The mission of the Humanities Department is to cultivate global citizens who are sensitive to difference, complication, change, conflict, and injustice. Students in the department learn to practice and integrate multiple approaches to creating and critiquing knowledge as they seek to understand what people value and why. They continue to shape their own intentional engagement with the world, and are prepared to work across many professional fields. 

The Humanities Department at SJSU is a prominent center for innovative and interdisciplinary study and research. We offer three different BA Programs for our students: the Liberal Studies Teacher Preparation BA; the Creative Arts BA; and the Humanities BA, in which students pursue a concentration in American Studies, Liberal Arts, or Comparative Religious Studies.

The Liberal Studies Teacher Prep BA offers several pathways toward becoming a teacher in the State of California. In the last few years, we have opened up new pathways that allow eligible students to complete the credential and that reduce barriers to becoming a teacher. The SJSU Liberal Studies program offers a traditional BA pathway, a BA with an Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP) focus, and four Spartan Accelerated Graduate Education (SAGE) pathways. SAGE pathways combine a Liberal Studies BA with a credential (Multiple Subject or Education Specialist) and a Master’s Degree (MAT). The ITEP and SAGE pathways reduce the number of units to earn these degrees, and provide students with a seamless road to a graduate career. All Liberal Studies programs with a credential include an option to earn a Critical Spanish Bilingual Authorization.

The Creative Arts BA is a cutting-edge program in the interdisciplinary arts in which students pay close attention to the creative process and the use of the arts for social justice. (Consider the role of murals in the #BLM Movement, for example.)

Our traditional Humanities curriculum has grown from offering an integrated perspective on western civilization to embracing a global view that responds to developments in global human rights, social justice, immigration, technology, the arts, cultures, education, and communications. The Department is currently pivoting towards the New Humanities, especially the Digital Humanities, Environmental Humanities, Global Humanities, and Human-Animal Studies. These exciting new directions provide students with additional toolkits that will further help them to address some of the most important questions of our time-what is the role of technology in our lives and what role does the Humanities play in developing an ethics for a tech-intensive world? How can humans work to imagine, develop, and educate for sustainable and equitable futures? How do the Humanities help us to analyze and critique transnational flows of migration, commerce, de/colonization, and culture? What can thinking about nonhuman animals teach us about culture, ecology, and the exercise of power? What does responsibility towards one another look like on local and global levels? How can we respond with vision and compassion to global patterns of displacement, dispossession, and migration?

Our faculty in all of these areas are well-published and committed to serious scholarship and creative work as well as to forms of public scholarship and the scholarship of engagement, which often reach a wider audience. We are teacher-scholars who are experts at the use of high-impact practices and who are able to inspire our students. This is important because student  learning and success is at the core of the Department’s mission. 

The Humanities Department is also home to several minor programs and two team-taught, multiple-semester General Education Programs: the lower-division American Cultures GE sequence and the Humanities Honors Program, which has both lower and upper-division Humanities Honors GE course sequences.


  • Shannon Rose Riley, Creative Arts, major and minor
  • J. Todd Ormsbee, Humanities: American Studies
  • Funie Hsu, Humanities: Liberal Arts
  • Arthur Zárate, Humanities: Religious Studies
  • Jennifer Rycenga, Humanities/Religious Studies
  • Kerri J. Malloy, Humanities Minor 
  • Arthur Zárate, Middle East Studies Minor & Religious Studies Minor
  • TBA, Humanities Honors Program

General Education Curriculum

Humanities Honors

The Humanities Honors program is an interdisciplinary and globally focused series of four lower-division courses that interrogate knowledge production throughout human history. Students integrate modes of knowledge production, literature, philosophy, art, culture, performance, ecology, and social institutions in these team-taught courses. Humanities Honors courses provide 24 units of general education credit: HUM 1A meets the arts and letters (C1) and human understanding and development (E) requirements; HUM 1B meets oral communication (A1) and critical thinking and writing (A3) requirements; HUM 2A meets arts (C1) and humanities (C2) requirements, and HUM 2B meets social sciences (D) and American institutions (US 1,2,3). Humanities Honors welcomes all students, regardless of GPA, to the program who desire to be challenged academically and develop a broader understanding of the world.

The program offers a two-course upper-division sequence of Advanced Honors (HUM 177A/HUM 177B), which meets the earth environment, and sustainability (R), self, society, and equality in the U.S. (S), and culture and global understanding (V) requirements. Advanced Honors is open to all students who desire to be challenged academically and develop a broader understanding of the world.

American Cultures 

The American Cultures curriculum is a two-semester, twelve-unit sequence which satisfies over twelve-units of lower-division general education requirements. Together, AMS 1A  and AMS 1B  provide six units of general education credit in arts and letters (Areas C1 & C2) and six units in comparative systems and social issues (Area D), as well as the California Education Code American Institutions requirements in U.S. History, U.S. Constitution and California Government (Areas US1, US2, US3). The courses use a range of interdisciplinary texts and methods-including literature, visual art, social history, graphic novels, podcasts, lectures, and group project assignments to explore intercultural, decolonial, and comparative perspectives on US cultures and histories.


    Undergraduate Major(s)

    Undergraduate Minor(s)

    Spartan Accelerated Graduate Education (SAGE) Scholars

    Spartan Accelerated Graduate Education (SAGE) Programs  programs are combined bachelor’s and master’s programs at SJSU (per University Policy F19-1). Sometimes they may also satisfy the requirements for a credential. Students in these programs pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree simultaneously. These program allow students to earn graduate credit while in their junior and/or senior year, reducing the number of semesters required for completion of a master’s degree.


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