An interdisciplinary liberal arts department, History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences (HPSS) offers a wide variety of courses on the nature of human life — past and present — in its psychological, social, political, intellectual, philosophical and cultural contexts and manifestations. Courses in Western and world history, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, political science, sociology, religion and American and cultural studies are designed to help students broaden their knowledge while developing stronger critical thinking, reading and writing skills.
History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences Concentration
- A focused liberal arts “minor”
In (and out of) the Classroom
RISD’s Kyobo Fund supports the development of innovative new courses that are team-taught by liberal arts and studio faculty. As a result, HPSS continues to offer an ever-evolving array of interesting interdisciplinary courses such as The Art of Scientific Communication (with Illustration), The Witness Tree Project (with Furniture Design), Aqua Incognita (with Photography), Representing the “Real” (with FAV) and Producing Meaning: Theories of Technology Since 1850 (with Architecture).
Elizabeth Early von Oehsen | HPSS concentrator
“ I always knew I wanted to go to RISD as opposed to a liberal arts college, so when I got in, I screamed at the top of my lungs. But since I’ve always liked teaching and mentoring younger kids, I also knew I wanted to take a classes that really support this work. I’m now following the Self in Society track, taking amazing classes rooted in the social sciences. I find this incredibly useful as I forge personal connections with younger students like the ones I’ve been mentoring this year at Providence Country Day School. ”
Damian White | associate professor + department head
“ As a sociologist, I’m particularly interested in the intersection of design, sociology and sustainability — especially since environmental issues are so deeply intertwined with social power and status. But in courses like Rethinking Green Urbanism and The Science and Sociology of Climate Change, we look at why the basic building blocks of ‘society’ and ‘nature’ are becoming increasingly more difficult to disentangle. We discover that the concept of hybridity — notably the idea that societies, technologies and nature are now mixed and mingled — represents an ever more common way of thinking about our relationship to nature.”
HPSS also offers a growing curriculum of science courses available as Liberal Arts electives. Developed for art and design students interested in biology, ecology, cognitive science, mathematics, physics, geology and the natural world in general, each course emphasizes science literacy and encourages connections to studio work where possible. Increasing numbers of students now welcome classes such as Concepts of Math for the Visual Artist, Investigating the Botanical World, Urban Ecology and Visual Perception.
Apparel Design Architecture Ceramics Digital + Media Film/Animation/Video Foundation Studies Furniture Design Glass Graphic Design History of Art + Visual Culture History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences Illustration Industrial Design Interior Architecture Jewelry + Metalsmithing Landscape Architecture Literary Arts + Studies Painting Photography Printmaking Sculpture Teaching + Learning in Art + Design Textiles