School of Business, Arts & Sciences

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The Social Sciences and Humanities Department offers an array of courses in economics, history, humanities, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology and anthropology. These courses introduce students to different aspects of the study of cultural diversity and the complexities of the human condition.

About the curriculum

Economics is the study of human behavior in the ordinary business of life. It teaches you to utilize limited resources efficiently. You can live a better life by applying economic principles/laws in every-day economic decisions. Economics emphasizes that there are trade-offs in your life and that each of us has to make the best choices of what to do with our resources. At the fundamental level, there are two main branches of economics: microeconomics, which deals with individual issues of the capitalist system, and macroeconomics, which focuses on broader issues facing economies of nations like the United States.

View the Economics courses in the College Catalog.

Philosophy is literally the love or pursuit of wisdom. While science is interested in discovering the inner workings of the smallest cells, the most volatile chemicals, or the physical laws that govern the universe, philosophy asks why we are interested in such things, how do they relate to us people, and does reality really exist? In Western Philosophy, the focus has been on analyzing problems regarding the existence of life, the purpose of humans, the ability to acquire knowledge, human values and morals, the existence of God, the development and use of language, the inner workings of the mind and conceptualization, and logic and reason. Penn College offers students the opportunity to study a variety of these topics through an introductory course to philosophy, along with specialized courses in ethics, bioethics, and logic.

View the Philosophy courses in the College Catalog.

Humanities courses focus on special topics and are intended to examine the human condition, promote critical thinking and engender a global perspective. While some of the courses identified with the HUM designator are offered by Social Sciences faculty, Humanities courses are not the sole province of the Social Sciences and Humanities Department. Several of the courses are team taught; others are offered by faculty from the Communications and Literature, Mathematics and Natural Sciences departments.

View the Humanities courses in the College Catalog.

Psychology has grown to be a broad and complex discipline in its relatively short history. At Penn College, students may select from among several courses as they pursue their respective degrees and fulfill course distribution requirements.

Although we do not offer a psychology degree at Penn College, you may be able to minor in psychology while completing coursework and earning a degree in your chosen program. For full descriptions of each of the psychology courses available at Penn College and further information about the Psychology Minor, please consult the College Catalog and feel free to ask our full time psychology faculty for additional information concerning the minor and specific psychology courses.

View the Psychology courses in the College Catalog.

History is our record of the human experience in all its richness and complexities and thus is a vital part of any liberal arts education. History is an exploration of how people have lived, thought, and tried to make sense of their worlds. It is cross-cultural and multi-dimensional, addressing the breadth of human experience and uncovering patterns that are essential in situating ourselves in the present and preparing ourselves for the future. Our courses stress the development of reading, writing and communication skills vital for many different careers. In fact, the critical thinking and writing skills that are the hallmark of training in history are assets in almost any line of work. The study of history also equips people to understand their own lives in a larger context and to participate effectively in public life.

At Penn College, you have the opportunity to take survey courses in World as well as U.S. history, as well as specific elective courses in specialties such as the history of technology and society. Class sizes are small, allowing you to participate fully in discussions and debates about the meaning of history to our lives, as well as its meaning to our collective futures and the future of our planet.

View the History courses in the College Catalog.

Political Science is the study of people and their institutions of government. Our political science courses examine local, state, and national government as well as political behavior and the political culture in which governmental institutions operate. Our goal in these classes is to develop students' understanding of the institutions and structures of government as well as the formulation and implementation of domestic and foreign policy. Additionally, students will be exposed to competing theories of governance so they can better understand and operate within their own local, state and federal governments.

View the Political Science courses in the College Catalog.

Sociology is the scientific study of the human beings' social and cultural environments. Sociologists are interested in researching and understanding not only the characteristics of diverse human populations, but also the factors that influence their behaviors and the cultures they create.

Sociologists look for collective causes or social forces--such as social policies, political decisions by people in power, social norms, economic circumstances- as explanations for the behavior of the individual. Most sociologists believe that human behavior may reflect an individual's or group's choice, but they also believe that those choices and behaviors are influenced by social systems and the interactions human beings engage in every day. Sociologists ask such questions as: what are the historical events that led to the formation of social and cultural systems; what social and political situations sustain those systems; and how does cultural and economic globalization affect the populations of diverse societies and the lives of ordinary people in different parts of the world.

Anthropology is the study of modern and (pre) historic people and their characteristic ways of living. Today, globalism is bringing people from different cultures together at many different levels on a daily basis. An anthropological perspective will prepare students for the modern multicultural world, and enhance their ability to perform in diverse residential, business, and educational environments. Because this is the study of people, the classroom experience will include a practical, hands-on component that demonstrates how anthropological field research methods can help the students explore and understand almost any social situation or work environment they may find themselves in.

View the Sociology and Anthropology courses in the College Catalog.

Mission & Goals


The mission of the Social Sciences and Humanities Department is to strengthen students' critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills; broaden intellectual perspectives; promote global awareness and an appreciation of community diversity; and foster an appreciation for life-long learning.


The main goal of the Social Sciences and Humanities Department is to prepare Penn College students for the challenges of life and active and informed participation in their communities. Courses help students to develop the skills to understand contemporary issues and to develop creative and sustainable solutions for their futures.


School of Business, Arts & Sciences

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