Introduction to Humanities and to Social Sciences (ASSC 1300 and ASSC 1400)


First-year students beginning their studies in fall 2022, registered at Dalhousie in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, will be the first cohort to take these courses.


The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) offers the most academic choices of any such faculty in Atlantic Canada, combining the opportunities of a big research-intensive university with the friendly atmosphere of a smaller college. With hundreds of course offerings across more than thirty-five academic programs to choose from, FASS is providing first-year students with guidance on figuring out which study areas they should pursue that will meet and pique their interests. FASS students will begin their journey at Dal by taking either the Introduction to Humanities or the Introduction to Social Sciences course. 

First-year students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are required to take either one or both of our Faculty introductory courses (each worth 3 credit hours). The Introduction to Humanities and the Introduction to Social Sciences courses complement each other, so students interested in both Humanities and Social Sciences are encouraged to take both

Watch this video featuring Dr. Robert Huish (Associate Professor, Department of International Development Studies and Director, Introduction to Social Sciences course) and Dr. Eli Diamond (Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Classics and Director, Introduction to Humanities course) where they provide a brief welcome and overview of these two new courses.

The chief goals of FASS’s first-year classes in Humanities and in Social Sciences are to:

  • Create a sense of cohort among Dalhousie FASS students through the shared experience of these introductory classes.
  • Give students entering the university an overall sense of what and how scholars and students actually study in the various disciplines, departments and programs.
  • Expose students to big problems they can approach from many shared perspectives and to the various disciplines so that they might more easily discover something that ignites their passions and interests early on in their university trajectory.
  • Reveal how disciplines have shared interests on similar social problems.
  • Allow students to reflect on the contemporary value and importance of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • Give students the experience of large, dynamic, exciting lectures but also small, intimate (20 person) tutorials.
  • Offer students the opportunity to earn course credit for attending public lectures featuring outstanding visiting academics and for participating in field trips and outings where students get hands-on experience of the cultural, historical and political institutions of Halifax.
  • Offer advice and direction to new FASS students on how to adapt to life as a new university student and get the most out of their university studies. This would include both advice about study skills as well as advising on planning out the student’s course of studies.
  • Expose students to the wide range of support and expertise available in FASS and at Dalhousie that can help them to excel throughout their degrees.


Introduction to Humanities (ASSC 1300)

What does the term “Humanities” mean? What do the various subjects and disciplines we include under the name ‘Humanities’ share in common that distinguish them from natural sciences or social sciences? What distinguishes these Humanities disciplines from one another? How do they relate to the Arts? What are different arguments for the continued value of studying Humanities? How might these arguments affect the choices of a Humanities student today?

This course will bring together outstanding teachers in the Humanities at Dalhousie to give you a window into the work of the various Humanities Departments and Programs in FASS.  As we work through the class, we shall see the interrelations between Humanities subjects and the ways in which they can work together, as well as separately, to offer insights into past, present, and future societies and cultures.

Over the course of the term, we will ask the question:  what is the nature and the value of the Humanities? We shall try to answer this question by actually doing the work of the various disciplines within the Humanities. Professors from departments and programs throughout the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences will teach classes showing how they deal with their objects of study.

The learning objectives from this course will be to:

  1. Give students an introductory sense of what the various Humanities disciplines and departments do.
  2. Give students experience in interpreting and understanding different kinds of texts and media.

Introduction to Social Sciences
(ASSC 1400)

For first-year students entering university, how will their academic journey begin? How can students build the skills and confidence to address pressing challenges on today’s society? How can a Faculty collectively work to foster the knowledge and confidence needed to address these, and other, pressing issues in the social sciences so that students acquire the conceptual vocabulary to engage in a rich social science undergraduate experience?

This module-based course will bring together outstanding educators in the Social Sciences at Dalhousie University to foster the confidence needed for students to succeed in their degree, to build skills to effectively engage with this changing world, and to address the critical challenge: What are the gateways and obstacles to a just society? 

The learning objectives from this course will be to:

  1. Build the conceptual vocabulary around key terms used in the social sciences.
  2. Understand how various social sciences view the key issues through their own disciplinary strengths.



To learn more about the departments and programs in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, please visit:


Introduction to Humanities and Social Science courses for first-year FASS students (flyer)