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The Humanities: Conversatio

As part of the core curriculum, all students participate in the Humanities Program, Conversatio, during their freshman year and may elect to take additional Humanities courses in their sophomore, junior, and senior years. Through readings, lectures, seminars, and a varied program of films, concerts, exhibitions, and stage presentations, the Humanities Program seeks to confront the student with questions of value, moral choice, and the real significance of human life.

Rooted in the Benedictine vow that encourages faithfulness to a way of life within community, Conversatio is the foundational shared learning experience for every Saint Anselm student. This year-long interdisciplinary course provides students with an intellectual orientation to studies in the Liberal Arts and acquaints them with the distinctive value of those studies within the Catholic Benedictine intellectual tradition.

Conversatio I - The Individual, The Community, & The Divine

In the first semester, students consider the meaning of humanity in the world by reading and discussing seminal texts that contemplate who we are as individuals, our responsibility within a community, and our relationship with the divine. Among fundamental intellectual ideas, students are introduced to the Catholic Benedictine intellectual tradition through the spiritual teachings of Saints Benedict and Anselm.

Conversatio II - Liberal Arts & the Good Life

The second semester concentrates on conceptions of the good life and the role that the liberal arts play in forming a fulfilling human life. Students build upon ideas from the first semester as they consider three additional areas of study central to the Liberal Arts:

  1. Politics, rhetoric, and the emergence of democracy in human history;
  2. The nature of science and the role of scientific understanding in our world;
  3. The nature of beauty and the place of art in the lives of individuals and communities. 

As the common academic conversation orienting students to Saint Anselm College, Conversatio invites individuals to discover their intellectual place and voice within the Saint Anselm learning community by encouraging them to read critically, to contemplate significant questions about human existence, and to communicate their ideas to others with greater effectiveness and respect.

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