Renowned for its focus on science and technology, Caltech has been committed to integrating the humanities into undergraduate education since its founding. Today, classes in the humanities and social sciences comprise 25 percent of the curriculum. When you support the humanities at Caltech, you help ensure that aspiring scientists and engineers can approach problems from an even broader perspective, informed by history and artistic expression.
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Two initiatives build on Caltech’s legacy in the history of science and technology and broaden its partnership with The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens. The Caltech-Huntington Advanced Research Institute bolsters collaborative research through sustained joint programming, while the Caltech-Huntington Humanities Collaborations accelerate progress on important questions by gathering teams of scholars for intensive, short-term study. Champions of the humanities and friends of these two storied institutions have a timely opportunity to extend the reach and visibility of humanities research.
When asked what makes his alma mater special, Roger Davisson (BS ’65, MS ’66) frames his thoughts with a literary allusion. “Walt Whitman wrote, ‘I contain multitudes,’” he says. “Well, Caltech contains multitudes. The Institute has some of the brightest and best minds, and they gather across disciplines in a way that I don’t think happens elsewhere. For a small school, the amount of stuff that’s going on is truly remarkable.”
Since its public launch in April 2016, Break Through: The Caltech Campaign has broken Institute fundraising records. While Break Through looks to secure Caltech’s future as a source of discovery for the world, the campaign already is making an imprint on campus and beyond by supporting Caltech people who are pursuing big questions and bold ideas.
Break Through, publicly launched just over a year ago, is already the most successful campaign in Caltech’s history. In the first year of the public phase alone, gifts exceeded $400 million. And total contributions—over $1.4 billion—have surpassed the goal of Caltech’s last campaign.
First. That is before all others; earliest in time or serial order, foremost in position, rank, or importance.
Freq. as a numeral adjective, the ordinal of ONE.
adj., n., and pron. (written 1st).
—Oxford English Dictionary
In graduate school, Jennifer Jahner became intrigued by the medieval equivalent of the “protest song”—verses that took the thorniest and most controversial matters of the time, like war and taxes, and presented them in an artful, persuasive way. When she poked around and found that many of these poems remained understudied and unknown, she took them on and has spent the years since examining the origins of propaganda in the Middle Ages.
The United States Navy decided where Howard Jessen would go to college. Because he was well qualified, they enrolled him at Caltech along with roughly 500 other naval students. “They said, ‘Do you want to join the Navy’s V-12 college training program? Sign here,” Jessen remembers. “There was no college visit, just off you went.”
“The instructorship gives me complete freedom to teach far beyond what is normally taught in a history department and to design the courses, which is amazingly liberating,” says Keith Pluymers, Caltech’s inaugural Howard E. and Susanne C. Jessen Postdoctoral Instructor in the Humanities. Pluymers recently taught a course titled Rivers from Sumeria to Los Angeles.
In 1930, Albert Einstein wrote in his travel journal about how exciting he found Caltech upon his first visit. Today, his words—a treasure trove for science—live here. His journals—along with 88,000 other notes, research findings, scientific and general writings, professional and personal letters, photographs, and more—make up the “big data” documentary core of the Einstein Papers Project.