Art|Sci Feature on Baker-Nord Undergraduates

The Fall/Winter 2019 Issue of Art|Sci Magazine features a profile of the Baker-Nord Center’s undergraduate programming, highlighting the achievements of some of our current Baker-Nord Scholars, as well as several summer internships made possible by the Humanities@Work and Feldman Grants. Below is a preview, with a link to the rest of the article!


By Arthur Evenchik, Fall | Winter 2019

When Claire Howard enrolled at Case Western Reserve in 2016, she had already decided to major in history. She owed her love for the subject to an inspiring high school teacher, who had helped her acquire a strong foundation of general knowledge. Now, she was eager to delve into specifics—especially with regard to women’s history, the field she was most passionate about.

With equal enthusiasm, Howard also became a pre-med student, combining a heavy schedule of science courses and labs with her history classes. But this, too, was something she had planned on from the beginning. In fact, she had chosen CWRU precisely because it offered her “the best of both worlds.”

What Howard hadn’t planned on, though, was the doubtful response she sometimes received from other students when they learned she was majoring in a humanities subject. Nobody questioned the value of being on the pre-med track, which leads (if all goes well) to a highly respected, lucrative career. But what was the point of earning a history degree? And didn’t the requirements for her major distract Howard from the courses that really mattered?

Such misgivings are common these days—and not just at Case Western Reserve. Peter Knox, the Eric and Jane Nord Family Professor in the Department of Classics and director of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, points out that humanities enrollments at four-year institutions have declined sharply since the recession of 2008. Faced with economic insecurity and rising college costs, many students and their parents regard a humanities education as a risky venture. A degree in science or engineering seems eminently practical. But the same is rarely said of a degree in history, classics, philosophy, English, modern languages, art history or religious studies.

Luckily, Howard soon connected with peers and faculty members who shared her devotion to humanistic studies. She belonged to the first cohort of Baker-Nord Scholars, a group of incoming students who had expressed an interest in the humanities when they applied to the university. These students met with Knox for a weekly colloquium the semester they arrived on campus. Continue Reading…