Since 1989, the Herbst Program has equipped engineering students with the right tools to gain intelligent and relevant access to the great ongoing conversations of human existence. Our core classes are small (12-14), highly interactive and practical. We emphasize the development of communication and thinking skills that will enhance both your life and your career. As a program of "applied humanities," we wrestle with how a more skillful engagement of literature, philosophy, film, drama, music, and art can enrich, inform, transform and enliven how we choose to engage ourselves, others and our world.
All Herbst classes count toward Humanities and Social Sciences requirements in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.
"Herbst was a breath of fresh air in my engineering education. While traditional engineering classes seem to focus on straightforward "plug and chug," Herbst seminars provided me with an opportunity to analyze situations with many different answers ... Having been in the workforce for several years now, I often find myself in situations of complete uncertainty. Successfully navigating these open-ended challenges requires developing an idea while accepting and adapting to feedback ... It's not just like being in a Herbst seminar; it's like writing a Herbst essay!" - Nick Little (AeroEngr '09)
"I cannot say enough about the Herbst program, and not just because it afforded me my first opportunity to leave the country to spend a Maymester in Italy (though that was an experience of a lifetime!). I would never have been exposed to Greek philosophers, Italian artists, and lesser-known novels of American novelists without Herbst. The intimate classes, engaging discussions, and emphasis on critical thinking outside of a technical area were invaluable." - Heather Doty (BS/MS CivEngr '01)
A directed reading group for engineering faculty and staff during the academic year
Wednesdays, 12:00-12:50 p.m. in ECOT 831
The Herbst Program of Humanities hosts a series of drop-in brown bag seminars for engineering faculty and staff throughout the academic year. Bring your lunch and join us to learn and share your thoughts and insights on a variety of great books. For more information, email
March 5, 12, and 19 – “Readings on Rome” led by Wayne Ambler (download reading)
Note location change: March 5 and 19 will take place in ECOT 831; however, March 12 will take place in the Clark Conference Room (ECAD 100)
Shakespeare wrote four plays devoted to Rome, and he strategically set them so they take us to very different moments in Roman history. Even his plays that are not about Rome sometimes show that Shakespeare had it in mind: in his famous play set in Christian Denmark, for example, the most (or only?) prudent character has a Roman name and declares explicitly, “I am more an antique Roman than a Dane.”
With thoughts like these in mind, we will read and discuss Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar according to this schedule:
Among several others, one theme suitable for our first meeting might be the challenge of getting people to change their minds. How does Cassius get Brutus to join the conspiracy against Caesar, and how does Portia persuade Brutus to open his heart to her? What persuades Caesar to go to the Senate even after his wife has persuaded him not to? Perhaps this topic will help get us ready for Act III, when Antony persuades the Roman people to riot after the assassination of Caesar.
Wednesdays in April – 200 Years of Brothers Grimm: Fairy Tales not for the Faint-Hearted! presented by Anja Lange