The Humanities Major at NYU Shanghai

With an interdisciplinary approach and an emphasis on specialization, NYU Shanghai’s Humanities major gives students the freedom to chart their own course

Shanghaiʼs skyline.

 

If there’s one field that links us all, itʼs the humanities. Across history and culture, socially and intellectually, people use their skills and knowledge to create and achieve. For students interested in the arts, literature, religion, philosophy, history, and culture that bridge our species, the Humanities major at NYU Shanghai is a perfect fit. It gives students the resources, and the freedom, to dive into humanity’s broad essence.

Choose Your Own Adventure

A unique interdisciplinary approach is baked into every aspect of the Humanities major. Students are encouraged to dig into many disciplines, from the courses they take to the connections they make on campus and beyond. Disciplines include traditional humanities subjects like history, philosophy, religion, and cultural studies but also less traditional fields like science and mathematics. Professors also bring their own experiences in a variety of fields to the table. For example, Professor Jennifer Egloff is an interdisciplinary scholar of history and mathematics. Other professors specialize in art, language, literature, politics, and more.

For his senior Capstone Project, Feifan Li plans to focus on Chinese history. But that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing courses in literature, gender studies, anthropology, and philosophy. In fact, Philosophy of Technology was one of his favorite courses. “We read classical Western philosophers like Plato, Descartes, Leibniz, and Kant. But we also read Eastern philosophers like Zhuang Zhou and Vasubandhu, exploring the theme of simulation in their writings,” Feifan says. “I learned that the boundary between the original and the copy is unclear. This helps me navigate a world where artificial intelligence simulates the human experience.”

Other exciting upcoming classes look at Korean society through K-pop, the conversation between Black and Chinese artists, French culture, and Arab-Islamic influences, to name just a few.

 

Students sitting in front of NYU Shanghaiʼs campus.
A student sitting in a communal work area with his laptop.

A Multitude of Paths

With students’ futures in mind, the department connects current students with program alumni to encourage networking and mentorship. “Recent graduates offer advice and support to current students while orienting them toward upcoming milestones like the capstone course or graduate school applications,” Professor Egloff explains. In addition, the department offers special paid opportunities like the Oral History Summer Apprenticeship and the Humanities Research Lab.

Many NYU Shanghai students choose to double-major in Humanities, pairing it with another interest to hone their critical thinking and set themselves apart. “Choosing Humanities as a second major or a minor can help graduates differentiate themselves from their single-major counterparts when applying for jobs, graduate programs, and fellowships,” says Professor Egloff. “The analytical and communication skills they gain from studying the humanities are advantageous for all career trajectories. Our students are empowered to implement positive changes around the world.”