Building a Foundation in the Humanities


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By Brian Warner

Self-help correspondence courses such as those offered by PREP, Partnership for Re-Entry Program, are a great way to further your recovery, but they require a lot of writing about some very personal subject matter. Though I’d had a good technical education, I found this kind of writing difficult.

Fortunately, a PREP newsletter led me to the Foundations in the Humanities program they started with the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center at UC Santa Barbara. It is a free correspondence course of study designed to strengthen reading and writing skills through literary studies. The program was founded “in belief that access to higher education is a basic human right to which every person is entitled.”

Three courses are offered: Foundations I: Introduction to Literature Studies, Foundations II: Selected Works in American Literature, Foundations III: Studies in the Novel. It takes 8-11 months to complete one course. Graduates receive a certificate plus a statement of course content for their C-file.

Each course consists of six modules that contain the reading and a worksheet with 4-6 questions. Responses require at least 200 words. An advanced graduate student in the humanities provides feedback. I found it specific, challenging and encouraging. For example: “consider working to avoid summary as you write and instead elaborate about the aspects of the text that interest you as this is where your writing is richest.” Additional interpretations of the reading are also suggested.

Over the past two years I’ve completed Foundations I & II and have been engaged by the writing of twelve authors whose work was new to me. I’m left wanting to read more of their work. Evaluations from my instructor detail how my writing and interpretive skills have improved but the most gratifying result I’ve obtained is a deeper appreciation for my story and how to tell it to family and friends as I continue to work on recovery.

If you have faced similar challenges in writing your story, consider the Foundations in the Humanities program. It’s a lot of work, but what you gain in insight will change the way you look at your life. To enroll send a letter of interest to  “Foundations in the Humanities, Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, 6046 HSSB, UC Santa Barbara CA 93106-7100.


About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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