Humanities and Justice Minor

Description. The Humanities and Justice minor offers students the opportunity to explore fundamental questions about justice from a humanistic and interdisciplinary perspective. Embedded in history, literature, and philosophy, the minor engages students in the study of constructions of justice that underlie social policy and criminal justice as well as in broader issues of morality and equity.

Rationale. The Humanities and Justice minor will provide students who are majoring in the social sciences and sciences with an important supplementary perspective for their study of issues, policies, and laws concerned with justice. With its interdisciplinary focus, the minor will also enrich the curriculum of students majoring in one of the humanities. Its courses are designed to help students develop the skills of careful reading, critical thinking, and clear writing that are necessary for careers in law, public policy, civil service, and teaching.

Minor Coordinator. Professor David Munns, Department of History (646.557.4496,

Requirements. The minor in Humanities and Justice requires a total of 18 credits of which 6 credits are required and 12 credits are electives.

Part One. Required Courses                                                          Subtotal: 6 credits

HJS 250 Justice in the Western Traditions. 
HJS 310 Comparative Perspectives on Justice.

This two-course sequence provides an introduction to a consideration of "justice" as a personal, social, and political construction. Selected texts from history, literature, and philosophy introduce students to the complexities attending the meanings of justice from ancient to modern times. Issues under study may include retribution and revenge; justice as political and social equity; determinism, free will, and the "unjust" act; divinity, hierarchy, and community as perceived sources of justice (or injustice); the social construction of justice, injustice, and crime; law as a structure of rules representing, defining, and shaping justice. The sequence will explore how understandings of justice clarify the ethical and legal frameworks defining religion, the state, colonialism and national identity, race and ethnicity, gender, ruling, class, the family, and similar structures.

Students in HJS 250 study works concerned with justice in the western tradition (primarily historical, literary, and philosophical texts of Europe, Britain, and North America). With its focus on works from the Mideast, Africa, Asia, and the other Americas, HJS 310 expands student understandings of justice. It encourages comparative assessments between western and nonwestern forms of justice by studying contacts resulting from war and conquest, trade, and cultural exchange. HJS 310 also develops and extends the skills students have gained in HJS 250 by its comparative tasks, by supplementing primary texts with theoretical readings, and by more complex and lengthy writing assignments.

Part Two. Electives   
Subtotal: 12 credits

Students must take four courses in literature, history, and/or philosophy selected from the humanities electives offered each semester that count toward the Humanities and Justice major. At least two of these courses must be at the 300-level or above. Students will select their electives in consultation with the minor coordinator.

The electives listed below are supplemented every semester by new or experimental courses that are pertinent to Justice Studies as identified and approved by the minor coordinator.

History Courses

HIS 217 History of New York City
HIS 219 Violence and Social Change in America
HIS 224 A History of Crime in New York City 
HIS 252 Warfare in the Ancient Near East and Egypt
HIS 254 History of Ancient Greece and Rome
HIS 277 American Legal History
HIS 290 Selected Topics in History
HIS 320 Topics in the History of Crime and Punishment in the United States
HIS 325 Criminal Justice in European Society, 1750 to the Present
HIS 354 Law and Society in Ancient Athens and Rome
HIS 381 Social History of Catholicism in the Modern World
HIS 383 History of Terrorism
HIS 260/LLS 260 History of Contemporary Cuba
HIS 265/LLS 265 Class, Race and Family in Latin American History

Literature Courses

LIT 219 The Word as Weapon
LIT 290 Selected Topics
LIT 305 Foundations of Literature and Law
LIT 311 Literature and Ethics
LIT 313 Shakespeare
LIT 314 Shakespeare and Justice
LIT 315 American Literature and the Law
LIT 316 Gender and Identity in Literary Traditions
LIT 327 Crime, Punishment and Justice in World Literatures
LIT 342 Perspectives on Literature and Human Rights
LIT 346 Cultures in Conflict
LIT 223/AFR 223 African-American Literature
LIT 340/AFR 340 African- American Experience in America: Comparative Racial Perspectives
SPA 208 The Theme of Justice in 20th-Century Spanish Literature

Philosophy Courses

PHI 203 Political Philosophy
PHI 205 Philosophy of Religion
PHI 210 Ethical Theory
PHI 302 Philosophical Issues of Rights 
PHI  304 Philosophy of Mind
PHI 310/LAW 310 Ethics and Law
PHI 315 Philosophy of the Rule of Law
PHI 322 Judicial and Correctional Ethics
PHI 326 Topics in the History of Modern Thought
PHI 340 Utopian Thought
PHI 423POL 423 Selected Topics in Justice

                                                                                                        Total: 18 credits