The Department of Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University offers a transdisciplinary series of courses that ask students to engage the big questions about the meaning of life and the reality of truth, beauty, and goodness in our world, and to seek answers that accord with both faith and reason.

While philosophy and theology represent the Department’s founding disciplines, the Humanities Department fosters a pursuit of their proper ambitions, not as two disciplines among many, but rather as the wellsprings of all efforts to reach for a unified understanding of the order of things insofar as both faith and reason long for this.

Humanities seeks to not only recover a classical understanding of the ordered integration of the disciplines, but also makes the complex mystery of the human being and the meaning and destiny of the person the guiding principle of that integration.

Even though the Classical Studies program is within the scope of the Humanities department, given that program's needs for distictive library materials to support graduate as well as undergraduate research, Classical Studies has it own collection development guidelines. See separate statement for Classical Studies.

Departments/programs/subject areas supported

The Humanities department is a community of students and faculty dedicated to a shared exploration of the human condition and concrete questions that matter to living a good life. They enlist the great minds of the ancient, medieval, and modern world to help in this endeavor, drawing deeply on Villanova's Catholic Augustinian tradition. Humanities faculty are specialists in complementary disciplines, including theology, philosophy, political science, economics, history, literature, and architectural history.

Teaching and learning are centered around the integrity of the human person and cultural currents that hamper its understanding, and seeking wisdom for personal and cultural renewal through the pursuit of an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to human questions.

Its curriculum identifies four fundamental loci of study and the related questions at the heart of all human inquiry.

  • Human Person: What does it mean to be a human being?     
  • Society: How do I relate to my family, my friends, society, politics?  
  • God: Is there a God and what difference does it make if there is?  
  • World: What can I know about the world I inhabit and my place in it?

A “gateway” seminar course centered on each locus and its corresponding question are the backbone of the Humanities course of study. A variety of electives revisit the gateway conversations to deepen and extend the inquiry by drawing on the resources of the great intellectual and spiritual traditions of the past -- the Catholic tradition in particular – and with faculty drawing on the resources of their specific disciplines, such as: fiction and verse; art and architecture; philosophy and theology; politics, economics, and history. Majors are required to take a integrative senior seminar capstone course.

Key areas of interest:

  • The Human Person, Contemplation, Wisdom, and Virtue
  • Society, Ethics, Politics, and the Common Good
  • God, Faith, Reason, and Transcendence
  • The World, Science, Technology, and the Self
  • Literature, Wonder, Culture, and the Fine Arts

Primary departments/programs:

Department of Humanities, undergraduate
Classical Studies Program, undergraduate and graduate

Cognate departments/programs:

Art History, undergraduate
Augustine and Culture Seminar, undergraduate
Cultural Studies, undergraduate
Ethics, undergraduate
Gender and Women's Studies, undergraduate and graduate
Global Interdisciplinary Studies, undergraduate
History, undergraduate and graduate
Honors, undergraduate
Liberal Studies, undergraduate and graduate
Philosophy, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral
Theatre, undergraduate and graduate
Theology, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral


Resources Collected

Print is the preferred format, especially for monographic or other longform literature.

Digital format is common for journal literature, reference materials, reserve materials such as adopted textbooks, and online surrogates of older books in the public domain.

Because of the Humanities department's primary focus on undergraduate education nearly all texts collected are in English or are translations into English. The critical exception are resources for the Classical Studies program which is sheltered in Humanities. See separate statement for Classical Studies.


Resources and materials collected selectively or by request:

Multi-media resources are typically acquired only on request. Video streaming is preferred.

Resources not collected:

Microforms of any kind.

Collaborations within the library

Humanities liaison team, consisting of librarians for: Humanities/Classics/Theology, Philosophy/Ethics, English/Theatre/Romance Languages and Literatures, and the Augustine and Culture Seminar Program.