Classics Program

What is Classics?

Classics is the interdisciplinary study of the ancient Greeks and Romans and their interactions with other peoples and cultures in the Mediterranean basin and Middle East. It is an attempt to understand the origins of western civilization through study of Greek and Latin languages, literature, history, archaeology, religion, and philosophy.

Classics offers insight into many timeless questions. How can one cope with mortality? What is the character of human responsibility and justice? How should people govern society? What leads to its peace and prosperity, what to its violence and decline? What does it mean to be a good (or bad) man, woman, husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, and friend? How do literature and art reflect and shape a society’s beliefs, desires, and fears?

If you ever ask and grapple with these questions, Classics may be for you!

Classics is not only fascinating but also practical. Classics students are capable and successful.  They are agile thinkers and articulate and persuasive citizens. It is no wonder they become effective teachers, education and arts administrators, museum curators, information technology specialists, lawyers, doctors, and businesspersons.

Classics Major, Emily Holt, '02, Archaeologist

Can I major or minor in Classics?

Yes, you can! Here at CSB/SJU, students can pursue a Classical Languages major (30 credits), which emphasizes the study of Greek and/or Latin languages, or a Classical Studies major (46 credits) through the European Studies program, which allows them the flexibility to study a broad range of courses in literature, history, art, archaeology, religion, and philosophy. Students can even minor in Greek or Latin (12 credits beyond the elementary sequence)!

The details are only a click away!

What professors will I work with in Classics?

Your Classics professors come from different departments on campus, and each offers students a distinctive disciplinary perspective on the ancient Mediterranean and its environs. Together they provide a holistic program of study that is hard to find elsewhere.

Core faculty:

  Scott Richardson
Ph. D. Professor of Classics
   Jason Schlude, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Classics
  Morgan King, Ph.D. Visiting Professor of Classics

Affiliated faculty:

  Charles Bobertz, Ph. D. Professor of Theology
  Carol Brash, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Art
  Jessica Harkins, Ph.D. Associate Professor of English
   John Houston, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Do you have teaching assistants and tutors?

Yes! Classics majors and minors quickly develop serious expertise in Greek and Latin. Every year some of these students take on roles as teaching assistants and tutors in the department, enriching our language instruction in significant ways. Our current teaching assistants are listed below. Greek and Latin students should reach out to them for tutoring and support!

Maren Curley
Maria Cullen

Study abroad in Greece and Italy and beyond

The College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University routinely ranks in the top five schools in the nation for the strength of our study abroad programming. Every year Bennies and Johnnies move across the globe to experience life in other countries and apply what they learn in the classrooms of CSB/SJU to the world beyond. Check out our Center for Global Education for our many program possibilities and how to pursue them.

The Classics program values study abroad, too! In years past, several groups of our students travelled to the Middle East to participate in our archaeological field school at the Omrit Settlement and Excavation Project in Israel, where they excavated a Roman settlement that grew up in midst of a major Greco-Roman temple complex. At present, our most important international opportunity remains our study abroad program in Greece and Italy,  now running for more than 30 years! Every fall term many of our students take part in this program, in which they travel to Athens and Rome and many neighboring sites, to see where Socrates reset the path of western philosophy as he walked the agora, where ancient artists and architects built cities that inspired the world (then and now), where citizens fought for their right to govern themselves in democracies and republics. In this, our most popular, study abroad program, Classics majors and minors have the edge!

Internships at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (and more!)

We care about experiential learning, which puts students in the driver’s seat of their own education in every way possible. What we do in our classrooms is key, but we also help students to apply their learning to special high-impact learning and leadership opportunities. These include our teaching assistantship and tutoring opportunities, as well as study abroad programs. But there is more to say here, too! Some Classics students participate in intense, collaborative student-faculty research. Others, with their unique language skills in Greek and Latin, are equipped to intern at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML) at St. John’s University. Here they work with an internationally renowned team of experts and scholars to manage a collection of precious manuscripts and to promote HMML’s mission: to preserve human culture by enabling local communities across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and south India to photograph their manuscript collections. Many of these collections are in politically sensitive areas. In good Benedictine tradition, this is a race against time and circumstance to save our shared history, so that it can continue to guide us as we all move into the future. The initiative is the biggest of its kind in the world—and our Classics students can participate! This is just some of what Classics has to offer.

Alum Profile

Sophia Polasky '06

Who would guess that a degree in Environmental Studies and Classic Greek could lead someone from the frigid temperatures of Juneau, Alaska, to the blistering heat of Ghana, West Africa? Read More.

What Classics courses are on tap for next term? Click here!