Saint Mary’s revives humanistic studies club after pandemic hiatus
Sally Bradshaw | Monday, September 4, 2023
One group of Saint Mary’s students have answered Shakespeare’s question, “To be or not to be?” with a resounding “yes.”
The Humanistic Studies (HUST) Club is back after struggling to find its footing since the pandemic.
According to humanistic studies professor Laura Williamson, the club has “waxed and waned” based on engagement and interest from the students. Williams attributed the club’s recent revival wholly to student efforts.
Junior and HUST president Julia Colleran first heard from a professor about the club, which she said immediately piqued her curiosity.
Colleran said she asked her professor if there were any leadership positions available in HUST Club.
“[I was told] if I was into it, then I could just take it and run with it,” Colleran said.
A humanistic studies major, Colleran said she was initially drawn to humanistic studies because it’s the major for the “chronically undecided.”
The humanistic studies department is “a cross between history, literature, culture, philosophy, art history, religion … kind of all the humanities bunched together,” Colleran said.
The holistic approach to learning, Colleran explained, distinguishes humanistic studies from any single department under the umbrella because all the different types of class are taken in tandem.
The school week for humanistic studies students is a combination of culture-focused classes three days a week and literature classes two days a week, according to Colleran.
“So while you’re learning about certain times and the culture of a time in history, you’re also reading texts from that time period and you get to learn that in conversation with each other,” she said.
Colleran said that aside from its founding by Sr. Madeleva Wolff, the College’s third president, the humanistic studies department is “really special” at Saint Mary’s because of the close bond she has formed between students and faculty.
“You form relationships that really do help with the academic side of things,” Colleran said. “When you have this close-knit cohort, it’s really easy to reach out and have conversations about what we’re learning and how to apply it to our lives as students and just as people in general.”
Now that the HUST Club is renewed for the first time since the pandemic, Colleran and HUST Club members are hoping to hold two events per month.
One event each month will focus on creating relationships and the second event will involve “getting off campus and experiencing cultural experiences either at Notre Dame or somewhere else in South Bend,” Colleran said.
Colleran added that the off-campus event each month is important to the HUST club because the major aims to take the things learned in the classroom and apply them to the outside world.
Williamson said the HUST club is “entirely” student run.
“We let students find films they want to see, we let them come up with movie nights that they want to do and we’re able to help out so that they can have those extracurricular activities,” Williamson said.
One such upcoming activity devised by the students of HUST Club is a renaissance meme night. Another HUST Club affiliated event will be a public humanities lecture Sept. 21.
According to Williamson, the community of humanistic studies expands past current students of the major or minor.
“We have benefited tremendously from the generosity of Saint Mary’s and specifically humanistic studies alumni, and what that means is that we have funding to support the kind of intellectual activities and artistic activities that our students want to do that some clubs might not have the opportunity to do,” Williamson said.
Williamson underscored one message to the student of the HUST Club.
“You dream it up and we’ll try to make it work,” Williamson said.