Have you ever wondered about the meanings of old Latin words in your history textbooks? Or misunderstood an old Latin phrase? Students in the classical studies department never have.

Classical studies is a section of the language department that focuses on two languages, Latin and ancient Greek, as well as ancient Greek and Roman morals.

“Classics is really the original liberal arts discipline,” Department Head Daniel Carpenter said. “It goes all the way back to the birth of universities and the Renaissance.”

Carpenter encourages students to join the classical studies department because there are many jobs where they can utilize the skills they learn.

“I’ve had students go on to everything from medicine to archeology and resource management,” Carpenter said.

While the department at the University of Rhode Island is small, Carpenter said that other universities have programs with more degree tracks within the curriculum.

“I am the only person in classics here at the University,” Carpenter said, “But that’s not too atypical. There are places that have bigger programs and more majors.”

The classical studies department offers Latin and ancient Greek courses that go up to the 400-level. Classical studies students also take courses in English and history that count towards the major, such as “Ancient Greek Mythology” and “Roman Myths.”

Senior Student Molly Jane Tartaglia said she wished she had pursued the classical studies degree earlier on, because growing she had trouble with speaking English and learning a new language helped her significantly.

“I was terrified to study language because I was told I never could,” Tartaglia said. “When I found Latin all the problems I had with language just went away. I found it easier to speak.”

In addition to helping with language, according to fourth-year student Keith McCurdy, classical studies is also helpful in learning and understanding grammar.

“For one I think what we study is important, I think everyone should be studying latin grammar from an early age,” McCurdy said. “It has helped my English grammar exponentially, it helps critical thinking.”

According to Carpenter, the classics department will be combining with the Japanese and Arabic departments for the fall 2019 semester. He said this will allow the three departments to combine resources.

“In the fall, we will be starting with a new program called ‘Global Languages and Area Studies,’” Carpenter said. “This will have three different tracks in it. One will be classical studies, and it will be basically the same thing that we have done in the past with the classics program. There will be two other tracks, Japanese studies and Arabic studies, and they are both smaller language programs like classics.”

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Theresa Brown
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