SFU’s humanities and hellenic studies departments merge

The Greek history program aims to become a future minor program

PHOTO: Micheile Henderson / Unsplash

Written by: Sara Wong, Peak Associate

There’s a new home for the hellenic studies (HS) department at SFU, and it’s within the department of humanities (HUM). According to humanities department coordinator, Cristina Serverius, “The merger had been talked about informally for many years.” In her email statement to The Peak, Serverius added, “For HUM, the collaboration with HS makes sense because of the historic centrality of Hellenic Studies to the discipline of Humanities.” 

In hellenic studies, students explore Greek history and its relevance to today. Meanwhile, humanities courses range in focus — “from Ancient Greece to Modern Germany [and] from Taoism to Christianity.” Aside from studying history, the humanities program overview shows that courses also cover philosophy, art, literature, science, and political thought. Ultimately, “students will learn to pose questions and address concerns central to understanding the human condition.”

While the humanities and hellenic studies departments are now joint, the Institute for the Humanities and SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies will remain separate. 

However, these two organizations have similar mandates. The Institute’s foremost initiative is to “[plan and support] interdisciplinary programs, conferences, seminars and research which bring together faculty in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts.” 

The SNF Centre states that their goal is “to promote a better understanding of Hellenism in the community” and that “at its core [ . . . ] the Centre focuses and supports research at SFU on Hellenic topics, from Antiquity to present-day Greece, through grants and postdoctoral fellowships.” 

According to Serverius, the merger between humanities and hellenic studies signifies “more opportunities for joint programming and closer collaboration between the Centre and the Institute within the realm of possibilities of their respective unique mandates.” 

Starting in the Spring 2021 term, all hellenic studies classes will be designated as part of the humanities instead; but that’s not the only change to course planning that will result from this merger. 

“HS only [has] a certificate program; now that they are housed in HUM, they have access to a full academic department with majors, minors, and an MA program [ . . . ] we are planning to develop a minor in HS, and we are also using the opportunity of this merger to revamp the HUM major and minor,” Serverius shared. She predicts that changes regarding the HUM/HS majors and minors will not be in place “until Fall 2021 at the earliest.”

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