Program Sketch

The History of Ideas Program began in 1970, coordinated by Daniel O?Connor, Professor of Philosophy. Classes in Ancient and Medieval Studies had become popular among students and the classes were incorporated into a new History of Ideas Program, which focused on Greco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian traditions and societies. The main goal of the freshman classes was to ?understand some of the most important beliefs, attitudes, and presuppositions which give shape to the two cultural traditions?nature, self, society, and the divine.? This interdepartmental course focused mostly on Classics, Philosophy, Religion, and History, but throughout its existence there were colloquiums and debates on a variety of topics. The program faded in popularity in the late 1970?s and enrollment went from twenty-three students in 1977 to two by 1982. History of Ideas was to be terminated in 1984, but went through a revival in 1985 when Clara Park promoted the program as a major among faculty, and encouraged incoming freshman to take an interest in the courses. At this time, college president Francis Oakley was the Chair of the History of Ideas Program and it enjoyed moderate success. There continued to be problems in staffing, however. Elaine Beretz took over from Tom Kohut as Chair in 1991 and she announced that History of Ideas Program would be eliminated after the 1991-1992 academic year.

Williams College History of Ideas Program, 1970-1994

Program Sketch
Scope and Content Note
Contents List