Kenyon is well-known as the ‘Writers’ College.’ Our tiny hill in the heart of Ohio is home to one of the most famous literary magazines in the world, and famous writers like John Green ’00 and E.L. Doctorow ’52 call Kenyon their alma mater. Additionally, Kenyon graduates in STEM have gone on to enter graduate school at rates higher than the Ivy Leagues, and economics has become one of the College’s most popular majors.
But does Kenyon’s current diversification requirement truly serve its long history of the liberal arts tradition?
Part of the liberal arts pedagogy is ensuring that students receive a well-rounded education, one that spans from the humanities to the ‘hard’ sciences. Kenyon has tried to accomplish this through its diversification requirements, but there are a few loopholes: For one, an introductory yearlong Modern Language course satisfies the humanities requirement — meaning that students could potentially never take a literature or writing course throughout their Kenyon career. Similarly, only one semester-long class is required to fulfill the quantitative reasoning (QR) requirement — allowing students to have the chance to leave rigorous analytic thinking behind in the fall of their freshman year.
The College should revise its diversification requirements in two ways. First, it should introduce a yearlong required freshman course. This humanities class would be closely modeled after two existing Kenyon classes: PSCI 101Y: The Quest for Justice and IPHS 111Y Odyssey: Pursuit of Wisdom and Understanding. This first-year course would be interdisciplinary, surveying great books from Jane Austen to Karl Marx, while also drawing lecturers from different departments. Such a class would create a shared experience among first-years, while also furthering a liberal arts pedagogy.
Additionally, Kenyon should expand its QR requirement to two semesters instead of one. The type of data-driven analysis that QR classes require is a necessary element of a well-rounded education, and a single semester does not allow for the necessary depth to truly engage with this way of thinking.
Under these changes, Kenyon can work to ensure that no humanities student will graduate without studying STEM, and no STEM student will graduate without studying the humanities.
Annalia, Katie and Audrey
This editorial was written by editors-in-chief Katie Sparvero ’25 and Audrey Baker ’25 and managing editor Annalia Fiore ’25. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.