Jul 12, 2024  
2015-2016 Catalog 
2015-2016 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts

The educational mission of our School is to create a rich learning environment by looking at people and society through the lenses of the many disciplines comprising the social sciences, humanities and arts.

The School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts Offers the Following Majors:

The School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts Offers the Following Minors:

Welcome from the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts

Dear Students:

In 1962, Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian professor of English literature, coined the term “global village,” which meant to him a future in which communication across cultures and across the world could be instantaneous. Today, his vision has been made into a reality by the Internet, one that allows us to be in Merced and Kathmandu at the same virtual moment. But merely being able to communicate does not erase the reality of cultural and linguistic diversity—to truly and effectively communicate, one must also understand the social, political, economic, aesthetic and religious variability that characterizes the world in which we live. In other words, to be a true global citizen, one must have the ability to think critically, write well, have knowledge of the past so as to inform the present, and to develop a capacity for life-long learning.

To help you become this global citizen, our school embraces many disciplines, including cognitive and information sciences, humanities and world cultures, psychological sciences, and social sciences and management. Our faculty are among the very best scholars in the world and they have joined UC Merced to create exciting new programs that appeal to our leaders of the future. Although we offer traditional majors and minors, we also seek to broaden your horizons by offering courses of multidisciplinary studies—ones that cross-cut traditional fields. In some classes, you will learn the basics—the fundamental knowledge of a discipline, and how that knowledge can be used to get a better understanding of the complexity of the human condition. In other classes, you will be challenged to develop critical thinking skills that can be used in any career no matter what the content. In many of our courses, you will learn how to write effectively, collaborate with your peers, and speak in public settings, both large and small. When you leave UC Merced, you will be equipped with the knowledge and skill sets that will enable you to engage with the world, to recognize and solve problems of all kinds, and to succeed in a career.

Take advantage of the limitless opportunities you have before you in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts. Become that global citizen!


Mark Aldenderfer
Dean, School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts

Educational Philosophy

Our educational philosophy can be captured by the following principles which guide the way that the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts constructs a learning foundation for our students:

Doing is the basis for learning. Students are encouraged to create the forms they are studying—whether they are plays, maps, persuasive essays or social surveys. We believe that developing writing skills leads to critical reading; being an articulate speaker leads to becoming a better listener; and developing models of decision-making from a holistic multidisciplinary perspective leads to a better appreciation of how policy is developed. We invite students to participate in the research programs of our faculty, to create student-led teams and to embark on individual, mentored research projects. Through their research, students learn to evaluate and use evidence and construct persuasive arguments based upon actual events and previous experience.

Learning is ubiquitous. Some of the best learning occurs outside of the classroom around peers and in communities. Diverse learning environments allow students to make connections between books and the world. Human beings are natural learners, and our job as educators is to provide an environment where students can engage these natural instincts. Courses are the anchors, but a lot of exciting learning depends upon students’ own discovery of the links between formal academic programs and other endeavors such as foreign travel, artistic performance, political or business internship or community service.

Citizenship is founded in community. When we develop an informed and critical engagement with our own community, we can make better sense of what is happening there, and we can begin to see how our home is related to the globe. We live in a world where we are globally interdependent. Political borders, which change over time, determine citizenship and affect life opportunities. Ideas, diseases, languages, goods and individuals have always moved around the region and the world, but they do not reach all destinations with equal ease; they do not have equivalent effects when they alight in different places; and they are transformed by their new environments. We envision our community of students as developing a zone of comfort that allows them to act simultaneously as local and global citizens.

As a new campus, UC Merced has the singular opportunity to foster an integrative environment that draws from these disciplinary research traditions, but is not limited by their boundaries. The School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts offers a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programs dedicated to preparing students for varied roles as responsible and thoughtful citizens and leaders. We offer research and academic programs in anthropology, the arts, cognitive science, economics, English, foreign languages, history, management, philosophy, political science, public health, psychology, sociology, world heritage and writing that:

  • prepare students for meaningful careers and professions;
  • encourage intellectual and moral growth;
  • promote sound decision-making;
  • instill the values of lifelong learning; and
  • encourage civic responsibility, public service, and understanding in a diverse, global society.

Students have the opportunity to follow personal paths of discovery in disciplinary or interdisciplinary curricula, while at the same time gaining depth and expertise in methodological domains such as social statistics, historiography, Geographic Information Systems, economics, cultural analysis and cognitive science.

Culture, society, and artistic expression differ widely on the basis of their historical era and geographical location. Individuals and their cultures are affected by diverse natural environments, the questions we ask about ourselves and the world, the changing ways in which the world has been measured and envisioned, and the legacies of contacts, migrations or isolation. As students learn to understand the ways that time and place have shaped lives, institutions and works of the imagination, they develop perspectives that enable them to better understand and shape our futures.

School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts Requirements

All students in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, regardless of major, are expected to meet the minimum requirements for a degree.

General Education Requirements [44 units]

Students in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts are required to complete the following list of general education courses. Course must be selected from the approved general education list, found on ssha-advising.ucmerced.edu or MyAudit.

Lower Division UCM General Education Requirements

Lower Division SSHA General Education Requirements

  • Two Natural Sciences or Engineering Introductory courses with or without laboratory, field or studio [8 units]
  • Humanities, Arts, or Foreign Language course (outside of your major(s)) [4 units]
  • Social Sciences course (outside of your major(s)) [4 units]

Upper Division SSHA General Education Requirements

  • Four Upper Division General Education courses outside area of emphasis or major(s) [16 units]

At Least 120 Units to include the following:

  • At least 44 semester units of general education courses.
  • At least 60 semester units of upper division courses.
  • Students must complete all course prerequisites with a C- or better.
  • Students must complete all major requirements with a C- or better and maintain a 2.0 GPA in all major course work.
  • Students must complete all major requirements with a letter grade option unless the course is only offered on a pass/no pass basis.
  • Courses graded with a pass/no pass grading option are limited to one third of the total number of units required for general education.
  • Students must obtain pre-approval through the SSHA Advising Office for all courses completed at institutions other than UC Merced. All courses completed at institutions other than UC Merced must be worth at least 3 semester units to fulfill major, minor or general education requirements at UC Merced.

Transfer Students

Please review the “General Education for Transfer Students ” section on the UC Merced General Education page. Transfer students are strongly encouraged to complete IGETC in order to prepare for work within the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. Students who do not complete IGETC before transferring are required to complete SSHA Foundations, an IGETC-like general education pattern. Please contact the SSHA Advising Office for more information at ssha.advising@ucmerced.edu.

Foreign Language Placement at UC Merced

To ensure proper placement in our foreign language courses, students with previous academic instruction in the language that they would like to study are encouraged to take the placement exam for that language. However, students wishing to use language proficiency to satisfy a major, minor or general education requirement must have their placement scores confirmed by the foreign language program. Please contact the Foreign Language Program Coordinator or a UC Merced academic advisor for more information.

Note: Students may not complete placement exams after they have enrolled in a UC Merced course in that language.

School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts Programs

The School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts is pleased to offer a number of interdisciplinary programs outside of the majors. Students are encouraged to take courses within the following areas of study: