Humanities at Boğaziçi University

After the establishment of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as the School of Sciences and Languages in 1959, Robert College began to offer four-year bachelor's degree programs in Physics and Natural Sciences, Chemistry, Mathematics, and English Language and Literature. The School not only provided an intellectual frame for studies of liberal arts but also offered elective courses for the Schools of Engineering and Business Administration and Economics.

It was the Rockefeller Foundation that provided funds for the Humanities Program, which was widely recognized as one of the most important achievements of Robert College. The Humanities Program began as a bilingual and bicultural Humanities survey course taught in English and Turkish under the department of English Language and Literature, which later became Western Languages and Literatures. Many prominent and world-renowned scholars gave lectures as part of the Humanities courses, including Sina Akşin, Fahir İz, Keith M. Greenwood, Geoffrey L. Lewis, Abdullah Kuran, John Freely, Hilary Sumner-Boyd, David Garwood, Godfrey Goodwin, Philip Ralph, Özer Kabaş and Traugott Fuchs.

Despite the outstanding achievements, however, Humanities courses were discontinued in the late 1960s due to financial constraints and the increased number of students. The termination of the program raised deep concerns and discomfort in other programs, since the Humanities was deemed an essential part of students’ education.  In 1971 Robert College was inaugurated as a state institution, taking the name Boğaziçi University. The newly established Faculty of Arts and Sciences kept the ongoing four-department structure.

In 2008 the Humanities courses began to be offered through the Western Languages and Literatures department as HUM 101 and HUM 102 Cultural Encounters.  Taught in English by foreign faculty and a list of esteemed guest lecturers, HUM became a university-wide course offered to first-year students from different concentration areas.

In 2016, the Humanities Courses Coordination Unit was launched as a separate unit under the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Honoring the tradition of its antecedent, the Humanities aspires to introduce students to a broad spectrum of cultural, philosophical, historical and literary questions while engaging them in critical analysis.