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Arts & Sciences Mission

The College of Arts & Sciences is the heart of Saint Louis University, a Catholic, Jesuit institution whose mission is the pursuit of truth and the transmission of knowledge for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity.

To fulfill this mission, the College aims

  • to educate both undergraduate and graduate students in an atmosphere of personal concern; 
  • to encourage intellectual excellence, aesthetic appreciation, and critical thinking while still fostering spiritual and moral awareness;
  • to challenge students to be ethically responsible members of a diverse society who continue to pursue and further their intellectual and moral development and critically reflect on their social commitment;
  • to contribute to the discovery, synthesis, interpretation, and dissemination of new knowledge through significant research and publication; to serve academic and professional groups and the local and global communities by the application of knowledge to human issues and concerns.

Mission Statements of Departments and Programs

American Studies

The mission of the American Studies Department at Saint Louis University is to provide an interdisciplinary approach to the study and analysis of the cultures of the United States and their development over time. It seeks to produce leading-edge scholarly and artistic publications, exhibitions, and performances from its faculty and students. Our department trains students to apply humanities and social science methods to literary, historical, visual, digital, and material culture sources, while cultivating skills in critical thinking, clear writing, and persuasive speaking. Through internships and collaborations with a variety of community institutions, we encourage students to engage in the world around them and to reflect ethically on the problems and issues addressed in the classroom.

Biology

The Department of Biology conducts its mission of teaching, research, and service to the University and the profession within the context and environment of a Catholic Jesuit liberal arts education. The Department's mission is to give undergraduate majors and graduate students in the masters of science and Ph.D. programs the broad intellectual foundation and skills needed for careers in research, education, industry, medical sciences and government, and to encourage the Department's undergraduate students to continue intellectual pursuits in graduate or professional schools. To accomplish this mission the Department must do the following:

  • Provide an intellectual environment in which faculty members and students can pursue scholarly research to gain new knowledge, test hypotheses, and serve the national and international scientific community through scholarly publication, peer review, and leadership in professional organizations,
  • Offer a broad array of course work in the biological sciences for biology majors and for the needs of the university community,
  • Provide laboratory and field experience and professional internships for students to learn state of the art scientific techniques,
  • Provide opportunities for students to experience the scientific method firsthand and to learn the techniques, ethics, and limitations of scientific research through one-on-one interactions with faculty members in independent research projects,
  • Encourage and enable students to present their research results at regional and national scientific meetings,
  • Provide opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to apply their knowledge by assisting in instruction in undergraduate biology laboratories,
  • Advise students on curriculum, career choice, and selection of graduate or professional school,
  • Strengthen and expand further liaisons with the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Saint Louis Zoo, industrial and educational institutions within the greater St. Louis Area and nationally, and other units within the University,
  • Maintain and update the focus of graduate programs to train students in subdisciplines of biology to meet current national needs,
  • Maintain a focus in the graduate program to provide the students with the tools necessary for academic careers.
Chemistry

The primary mission of the Department of Chemistry is to educate, train and advise students at the baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral level within the context of a Jesuit liberal arts university. In addition, the Department provides chemistry courses as a service to other units of the University including Preprofessional Health Studies, Nursing, Engineering, Health Sciences, and Clinical Chemistry. The Department also participates in the promulgation of science literacy through its participation in the Arts and Sciences' core curriculum. To accomplish this mission the Department does the following:

  • Provides extensive and challenging programs leading to bachelor of science degrees in chemistry and biochemistry which are fully accredited by the American Chemical Society,
  • Offers an alternative degree program (bachelor of arts) for students with a primary interest in combining a chemistry or biochemistry degree with another major or area of emphasis,
  • Encourages and supports student research which involves a one-on-one interaction with faculty mentors,
  • Encourages and supports research students to attend and present the results of their research at conferences and colloquia,
  •  Maintains an informal atmosphere in which student-teacher interactions with regard to course work as well as research are encouraged,
  • Promotes among its faculty excellence in teaching, individual scholarship and participation in professional organizations,
  • Provides counseling regarding opportunities for graduate study, industrial careers or other avenues open to chemistry and biochemistry graduates,
  • Adopts a collegial atmosphere in its contacts with students and faculty from other units of the University.
Communication

The Department of Communication studies human symbolic practices. The Department educates students to become culturally sensitive participants in democratic dialogue and ethically responsible leaders in fields such as journalism, communication research, public relations, advertising, human resources, public service, and teaching. To accomplish this mission, the Department encourages undergraduate students to combine a theoretical knowledge of human interaction processes, an understanding of the cultural consequences of the mass media, and specialized skills in writing, speaking, critical thinking, research, and design. The Department encourages graduate students to deepen their understanding of communication theory, research, criticism, and ethics and to prepare themselves for positions of greater responsibility in their chosen professions. Through their scholarship, the Department of Communication's faculty advance knowledge and understanding in the discipline of communication by relevant research and insightful service to the University, profession, and community.

Computer Science

The mission of the Department of Computer Science is to further knowledge of, and develop professional skill in computer science. This mission, guided by the Jesuit character of the University and the liberal arts character of the College, provides students with exercise and growth in moral and intellectual habits so they may fulfill their respective vocations in life and be intelligent, ethical, and useful members of society. The faculty form a community of scholars whose research enriches their teaching and contributes to the solution of human problems.

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences is committed to providing the highest quality education for all our students. We strive, through excellence in research, to contribute to new understanding of our Earth and its atmosphere and to pass on to students the rewards of participating in scientific discovery. We strive, through devotion to teaching, to arouse in all students, not only our own majors but also those throughout the University, a desire for learning, an appreciation of science and a curiosity about Earth's global environment. We strive, through active outreach to the community, to serve and share with others our experience and knowledge.

English

The Department of English trains students in the practice of writing and the study of literature. We engage the art of language in its full range of expression, including the production, distribution, reception, and interpretation of texts. In keeping with SLU's Jesuit mission, the Department cultivates habits of imagination and eloquence grounded in the rhetorical and literary traditions and as well as in encounters with emerging technologies, diverse cultures, and marginalized voices. Our students emerge as creative citizens prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Undergraduate: Our students explore a variety of technologies of the word, including print and digital, oral and aural. Small classes taught by faculty at all levels promote community, mentoring, and dialogue. Study in the major and minor begins with topics-based courses linking literary study to questions of social justice, gender, faith, and ecology. Students go on to take classes in literary forms, historical periods, cultural contexts, and rhetoric and argumentation. As they advance, majors concentrate in creative writing; literature; or rhetoric, writing and technology. Students may qualify for our Research Intensive English/Honors Program. Beyond the classroom, our students participate in the English club, publish creative work and original research, and pursue professional internships. Students may also participate in interdisciplinary programs in African American Studies; International Studies; Film; Medical Humanities; and Women’s and Gender Studies.

Graduate: Our master’s and doctoral candidates acquire the knowledge and skills demanded in an evolving profession. Our nationally ranked program begins with instruction in broad literary and rhetorical histories; students go on to develop expertise in argumentation situated within an area of specialization within British, American, and Postcolonial literatures. Students take courses in medieval and early modern literature, the long 19th century, modern/contemporary literature, and rhetoric and composition. There are also several student-led reading groups, including Woodewalkers (Medieval Literature), Athenaeum (Transatlantic Nineteenth-Century Literature), Rhetorica (Rhetoric and Composition), and the Postcolonial/South Asian Reading Group. Through instruction in research, pedagogy and technological innovations in the Humanities, our program prepares students to be post-secondary and university teachers and administrators. Many graduates also successfully pursue careers outside this academy.

Fine and Performing Arts

The arts are integral to the moral foundations and the humanistic spiritual values embodied by the Jesuit educational mission. The arts reflect and shape society and have the power to advocate for positive social change. Teaching the history, theories, practices and critical analysis of the fine and performing arts leads students to examine, engage with, and add to the fullness of the human experience. Faculty and students of the department contribute to the cultural landscape of the University and the larger community through performances, exhibitions, presentations and publications. Students who experience the fine and performing arts at the University develop a deeper understanding of the full range of human expression.

History

The Department of History combines a commitment to tradition as well as to innovation. The faculty enjoy a long-established reputation for teaching and dedication to student learning on the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Department understands history to be an essential part of higher education that provides a core foundation for all of the liberal arts. Knowledge of the past allows for meaningful contemplation of and practical solutions to the issues and problems of the modern world. By providing students with an understanding of the past, the Department sets as its educational mission a commitment to student awareness of different cultures and perspectives that have created the Western tradition in a global society. To that end, the Department of History introduces students to historical surveys in American, European, and non-Western history. Through its curriculum, the Department of History exposes undergraduate majors not only to historical events, but also to the methods of historical research, with special emphasis on the critical skills necessary for thoughtful reasoning and intellectual exploration. The Department is also committed to excellence in graduate education. It seeks to provide an opportunity for graduate students to develop into effective teachers and rigorous scholars so that they can become leaders in the historical profession. Crucial to the success of undergraduate and graduate education is the Department of History's firm commitment to maintaining and strengthening its national and international reputation for scholarship. In fulfilling its mandate within a research university, the Department seeks to establish an environment conducive to scholarly investigation and significant publication.

Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Foreign language study, long a constitutive part of liberal arts education, helps develop analytical and synthetic reasoning and provides a better understanding of a person's first language and of language in general. The primary mission of the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures is, however, to foster the students' intellectual and spiritual maturity by introducing them to other cultures and by deepening their understanding of their common multicultural heritage through language and literature.

The Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures believes that the study of foreign languages in their cultural contexts liberates the student from a single pattern of thinking and acting. Having gained familiarity with another way of life and mode of apprehending reality, the mind is brought to see that patterns of thought and elements of culture can be widely variant, rather than fixed and absolute. Hence, one of the fruits of language study is a broader understanding both of oneself and of the person and customs of others.

A similar invitation to a wider view of life, culture, and reality is made by creative literature insofar as it deals with meaning in a concrete and comprehensive manner. At the same time, by its aesthetic impact and selected, highly concentrated focus, literature can become more "real" than life, revealing things about the reader and about the human condition that are not accessible through other disciplines. Literature also fosters the development of a personal synthesis of the manifold experiences of life. Within the enduring Catholic tradition at Saint Louis University, the study of letters plays a substantive role in the development of a Christian humanism that can inform and enrich students' personal lives, as well as prepare them to make more significant contributions to society at large. It is precisely to those college graduates who can function in more than one language and culture that greater opportunities for employment and advancement will accrue. In similar fashion scholars gain access to sources important to many disciplines which are otherwise inaccessible. The Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures serves the College by offering core courses in Hindi, Italian, and Portuguese; core courses, certificate programs, minors, and majors in French, German, Greek, Latin, Russian, and Spanish; and master's degrees in French and Spanish. The faculty participates both personally and professionally in local community organizations and projects and contributes to the University's national and international reputation through its publications and participation in learned societies.

Mathematics 

The mission of the Department of Mathematics is to further knowledge of, and develop professional skill in, mathematics. This mission, guided by the Jesuit character of the University and the liberal arts character of the College, provides students with exercise and growth in moral and intellectual habits so they may fulfill their respective vocations in life and be intelligent, ethical, and useful members of society. The faculty form a community of scholars whose research enriches their teaching and contributes to the solution of human problems.

Philosophy

The mission of the Department of Philosophy at Saint Louis University is to provide philosophical education appropriate to the Catholic and Jesuit goal of education. This goal is rooted in the basic Catholic belief that all human experience-scientific, philosophic, aesthetic, religious, and moral- reveals and speaks to the existence and nature of God as well as to the dignity and value of all human beings in themselves and as members of the human community. The Department of Philosophy carries out this mission on three levels:

  1. By educating the whole person of graduate and undergraduate students for a basic openness to God and concern for human well-being and by developing in them the habit of attention, the art of expression, the ability to assume upon reflection a new intellectual position, the capacity to enter quickly into another person's thoughts, the willingness to submit to censure and refutation, the capability of indicating assent or dissent in graduated terms, the aptitude for regarding minute points of accuracy, the facility to work out what is possible in a given time, and the virtues of taste, discrimination, mental courage, and self- knowledge;
  2. By enhancing the visibility of Saint Louis University in general and the Department of Philosophy in particular in the national and international community of philosophical scholars;
  3. By promoting the welfare of Saint Louis University by service to it and by participating in its life at all levels. The Department of Philosophy accomplishes the first part of this mission by providing challenging core courses, conveying the richness of the Catholic tradition, presenting excellent undergraduate courses for its majors and fostering a sense of community among them, integrating graduate students into the discipline of philosophy, honing their teaching skills, and equipping them to take their place in the profession. To achieve the second part of the mission, the Department seeks to create an atmosphere of collegiality in which faculty can carry on research, publish productively, participate in conferences, and disseminate seminal works by renowned philosophers through its international journal, The Modern Schoolman. Finally the Department realizes the third dimension through extensive faculty involvement in college and university committees and through the promotion of lectures and conferences designed to enrich intellectual discussion within the University. By questioning ultimate presuppositions, asking ultimate questions, and examining issues of ethics and justice, a strong philosophy department at Saint Louis University is essential for preserving the Catholic tradition and seriously engaging the contemporary intellectual milieu, both to learn from it and criticize it.
Physics

The Department of Physics carries out its mission of teaching, research, and service within the context of a Catholic Jesuit university. Our primary mission is to teach the students of Saint Louis University the knowledge of physics and the related intellectual skills required for their academic programs and future careers and to prepare them for citizenship in our technological society. To accomplish this mission, we offer a Bachelor of Arts that combines physics with a broad liberal arts education, a rigorous and flexible Bachelor of Science in physics, as well as a Bachelor of Science in engineering physics. In addition, we teach multiple general physics courses designed for the diverse populations we serve and courses for the core curriculum. Our mission includes the obligation to advance science by original research, involving our students whenever possible. It is also our duty to participate in the professional life of the world physics community, sharing in the work of its organizations. It is our responsibility to participate in the governance of the University and to advance its interests through service to the University, to its students, and to the larger community.

The educational mission of the Physics Department includes

  • teaching students the methods of discovery in physics and helping them comprehend the physical universe as revealed by science,
  • helping students acquire the laboratory, mathematical, and computational skills needed to apply their knowledge of physical principles,
  • showing students how to learn independently so that they can pursue knowledge throughout their lives,
  • helping students understand the role of science and technology in our culture and in relation to the important issues of our time,
  • encouraging students to use their knowledge of science and their intellectual skills in socially responsible ways,
  • helping students identify and develop all of their talents to maximize their future opportunities,
  • assisting students in determining their goals and providing the advice they need in seeking those goals,
  • encouraging significant undergraduate participation in research, student authoring of publications, and student presentations at scientific meetings,
  • maintaining the most modern teaching laboratories permitted by available resources, and fostering the use of computers in student learning,
  • making new contributions to scientific knowledge,
  • keeping current in the latest in teaching methods and techniques, as well as with employment opportunities for physics graduates.
Political Science

The Political Science Department analyzes the exercise of political power as it relates to governance, citizenship, and justice at all levels: local, national, and international. Insight of this kind is crucial to understanding, and potentially solving, fundamental social problems like war, poverty, and oppression in all its forms. In its teaching, the department aims to enable SLU students to assess the root causes of political phenomena, thereby preparing them to be truly men and women for others: informed and engaged world citizens and effective leaders able to make positive contributions to society.

Psychology

The Department of Psychology's mission is to contribute to the improvement of the human condition and to promote human welfare through understanding, past knowledge through scholarship, discovery of new knowledge through basic and applied psychological research, and dissemination of knowledge through teaching, publication, and service. The Department seeks to sustain itself as a community of scholars, in which all are teachers and all are learners, in an environment that fosters scholarly, professional, and personal growth. The Department seeks to examine, understand, and explain the behavior and experience of individuals and groups, including the family, organizations, and institutions. Members of the Department of Psychology respect and seek to understand human diversity in all its forms.

Sociology and Anthropology

The mission of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology is to promote the disciplines of sociology and anthropology through teaching and research within the overall mission of Saint Louis University. The Department's approach to this variety of social forms is both theoretical and applied and therefore the Department strives to provide essential knowledge and understanding for the creation of a just society as emphasized in the Jesuit tradition and in the spirit of the Gospels.

Theological Studies

The Department of Theological Studies furthers the mission of Saint Louis University through academic study, teaching, and research in the various disciplines of theological studies, especially in the Catholic tradition. To this end the Department provides a spectrum of courses on religion generally and on the biblical, historical, systematic, ethical, and spiritual dimensions of Christian faith to meet the general educational requirements of all University undergraduates, of undergraduate students majoring or minoring in theological studies, and of professional and graduate students in Catholic theology and in Christian historical theology. In addition to these strictly academic tasks which constitute the principal responsibilities of the Department, service to the church and to the community generally in ways proper to the special expertise of members of the Department is also recognized. While the Catholic tradition is central to the work of the Department, this tradition is studied in the context of the whole Christian tradition and in relationship with all the religious communities of the world. The Department of Theological Studies also affirms its interrelationships with the other humanities and social sciences and its commitment to interdisciplinary involvement throughout the University.

Women's and Gender Studies

The mission of the Women's and Gender Studies Department is to offer to the students of Saint Louis University a challenging inter- and multi-disciplinary academic program. The Women's Studies Department focuses on women's accomplishments, conditions, and contributions within their cultural contexts, thus illuminating the values implicit in women's places in societies both in the United States and internationally. Looking at gender as a determinant across and through disciplines, Women's and Gender Studies crosses boundaries of traditional fields of study, offering fresh views of their subject matter and creating a new coherent way of understanding human experience. Women's and Gender Studies endeavors to eliminate gender discrimination in the educational process by offering courses that examine women's experiences and the ways class, ethnicity, and age intersect with gender related issues. Women's and Gender Studies also supports and sponsors programs designed to cultivate gender sensitivity on the part of the entire University community. It serves as the only student forum on campus for the discussion of women's issues and concerns.

1818 Advanced College Credit Mission Statement

The 1818 Advanced College Credit Program seeks to promote the mission of Saint Louis University through the College of Arts and Sciences by providing a high quality educational experience to high school students, faculty and administrators in the Jesuit tradition of collegiality, cooperation and mutual respect.

The 1818 Advanced College Credit Program provides an introduction to college-level expectations for high school students by challenging students to attempt a rigorous academic curriculum, encouraging faculty to continue their personal academic endeavors, and supporting administrators in enriching and extending the high school curriculum.

African American Studies

The African American Studies Program strives to compliment the mission of Saint Louis University by serving as a critical link to the University's overall mission to make a difference in human lives and the quality of human life. The Program encourages research and teaching about Africana civilizations, framed in the context of world historical, legal, social, economic, and cultural development. The African American Studies Program seeks to bring creative tension to the traditional canons and values, which have served as the foundation of the liberal arts education and broaden the scope of intellectual discourse to include cultural contexts.

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

The Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies supports, coordinates, and promotes the extraordinary array of scholars, students, and resources devoted to medieval and early modern research at Saint Louis University. One of the largest in America, the Center is home to more than sixty full-time faculty members. By supporting students, conferences, speakers, fellowships, library acquisitions, and professorships the Center enriches the intellectual environment for medievalists and early modernists on campus and around the world.

Micah Program

The Micah Program is a faith-based living and learning program committed to the study of urban poverty and to the promotion of social justice and peace. We welcome students of all faiths who are comfortable praying and studying with us. Our primary aims are:

  • To foster leadership and a sense of community by encouraging students interested in service to participate in an enriched program of student-led activities and, when possible, to live together in a special area of a residence hail,
  • To offer lively interdisciplinary courses integrated around issues of urban poverty and social justice,
  • To deepen understanding of such issues by serving and working alongside the poor and the disadvantaged in neighborhoods near the University.
Russian and East European Studies

The Russian and East European Area Studies Program provides interdisciplinary study of the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe, combining language, literature, politics, history, communication, and other subjects. Students earn a minor in addition to one or more departmental majors, preparing them for graduate study and academic, government, and business careers.