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Profiles in a DU Pioneer Education

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Q&A with dean daniel mcintosh, divisions of arts, humanities and social sciences, part one

Upon his recent appointment as dean for the Divisions of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, we talked with Dean McIntosh.dmcintoshportrait

Q: Give us a brief overview of your divisions – a general snapshot of the education you provide to students.
Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences is the heart of the University. Although AHSS students and faculty are as diverse as our 15 schools and departments, our 2,300+ students, 225+ faculty and 26,000+ alumni are bound together by our common pursuit to investigate human expression, identity and interaction. We believe that understanding these human characteristics and processes is critical for both individuals and societies.

As the liberal and performing arts core of DU, our faculty teach every undergraduate via the common curriculum. While some students are honing their writing techniques under guidance from distinguished authors, others are examining election surveys, gaining mastery in emergent digital practices, analyzing migrations and diasporas or researching the psychological mechanisms behind human emotion. Across our departments, AHSS provides educational experiences within and beyond the classroom that capitalize on collaboration and interaction between our students and the expert scholars, artists and professionals that make up our faculty.

Our courses and programs develop critical thinking, analytical and communication skills, and cultivate empathy, self-awareness and even joy, all of which enable our students to become full participants in their communities and lead productive and meaningful lives.

Q: What does it mean to you to be appointed dean after 22 years of service to the University, all within AHSS? With your experience and knowledge of the University, what are you hoping to bring to the divisions?
I care deeply about our University and I bring an understanding of multiple perspectives as a student, alumnus, professor, administrator and supporter. Not only have I taught here for 22 years, but also I received my BA in psychology from DU in 1987. In fact, my wife Susan is an alumna (BA '87, English).

Generally, as dean I hope to decrease the space between our scholarship/teaching and external communities to enhance student and faculty scholarship as well as grow public understanding and support of AHSS. I will advocate for the values of AHSS and work to implement changes that reinforce our quality teaching and scholarship. My first task will be to work with the faculty, staff and students of AHSS and the University to develop specific plans to achieve our shared goals in the shifting landscape of higher education.

I should also note that as director of the University Honors Program, I worked with faculty and students from across the University's undergraduate units, not just AHSS. I thus have direct knowledge of how much faculty and students from across the University value the high quality and personal education provided by AHSS, and I have seen how our majors benefit from a University that has extraordinary programs in STEM and professional fields as well.

By Katie Watt
Posted July 22, 2014


Q: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences is home to a variety of departments, two schools and several centers and institutes. How do you describe the value of collaborating and offering cross-disciplinary programs within AHSS and with other University schools and departments?

There is a range of disciplines and approaches within AHSS, and a consensus that this variety is a source of great strength. The education we provide students requires exposure to different epistemologies, perspectives, experiences and bodies of knowledge. Collaborative encounters among students and scholars with diverse backgrounds and perspectives help our teaching and scholarship become sharper and more relevant by challenging assumptions and expanding experiences.

The departments of AHSS provide ways of understanding people and culture that are critical in our increasingly multicultural and international milieus. These lessons are learned and internalized more completely if done in a context of greater diversity of all kinds. Increasing interdisciplinary efforts is similarly important in enhancing the quality and influence of our work. As part of the interdisciplinary cognitive neuroscience program and the joint DU-Iliff doctoral program in religion and psychological studies, I have experienced how integration of differing paradigms and intellectual foundations enhances both education and scholarship. Most important and interesting issues in the world are not limited to one academic discipline; that's why an AHSS education is not, either.

Q: Given the challenges facing higher education today, specifically in the areas of arts, humanities and social sciences, what are some things AHSS is doing to stay successful?

Twenty percent of jobs today didn't exist 20 years ago. Our students gain the necessary skills to succeed at nearly any career in today's – and tomorrow's – evolving, global, communication-based society. We do so by supplementing applied skills – acting, journalism, musical performance, etc. – with broader, theoretical skills that make one successful at any job. More so, we help students develop a foundation of knowledge from which they can lead meaningful, fulfilling lives as informed, critical and engaged participants of their communities.

Q: What do you want people to know about AHSS?

Please join us at any of our upcoming events. And please learn more about us by signing up for expressions, our monthly e-newsletter that includes profile stories on our faculty, students and alumni.

By Katie Watt
Posted July 29, 2014