Concentration in hpss


Liberal Arts Concentrations 

Students can pursue a concentration (like a minor) in addition to their studio major. Concentrations are offered by each of the departments in the Division of Liberal Arts: History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC); History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences (HPSS); and Literary Arts and Studies (LAS). Information, including requirements, on an undergraduate concentration in History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences can be found below.

Undergraduate Concentration in History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences

The Department of History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences is an interdisciplinary department where faculty teach and conduct research in a range of fields across the humanities and social sciences. All courses in the department emphasize critical thinking and the development of writing and research skills. A concentration in HPSS is designed for undergraduate students who wish to complement their studio major with an in-depth study in a field supported by the department’s curriculum. Such study enables students to fully explore the department's course offerings and to fulfill their Liberal Arts requirements in a way that is most meaningful for them. Working across the disciplines of HPSS requires intellectual curiosity, excellent communication skills, and the ability to bring together disparate methods and approaches. Such qualities are integral to the creative work of an artist or designer, as well as for growth and success in everyday life.

The undergraduate HPSS concentration can be completed within a 4- or 5-year degree program. All RISD BFA candidates are eligible to add this concentration to their program of study. Interested students should contact the HPSS Concentration Coordinator, Jennifer Prewitt-Freilino (401 454-6693 /, or utilize the following HPSS Concentration Declaration forms: Adobe Acrobat / Adobe Reader / Microsoft Word. A HPSS concentration requires careful selection of courses. Typically, concentrators meet or communicate with the concentration coordinator once or twice a year to discuss course options and to update their records. As part of the process, HPSS concentrators may pre-register for HPSS courses that will be used for the concentration. The concentration coordinator will contact all concentrators with the relevant instructions shortly before the official registration period; this option is offered in the fall and spring semesters only.

Concentration Tracks

Each HPSS concentrator must shape a concentration around one of the Department’s ten established tracks. Each of the tracks builds on faculty teaching and research strengths and represents a key intersection of one or more of the Department’s core disciplines.

  •  American Studies
  •  Asian Studies
  •  Belief Systems
  •  Environmental Studies
  •  European Studies
  •  Gender, Sexuality and Race
  •  Media and Cultural Studies
  •  Politics and Policy
  •  Scientific Inquiry
  •  The Self in Society
Concentration Track Descriptions

American Studies 

Study of one or more of the regions of the Americas (North America, the Caribbean, Central America and South America), including economics, government, history, politics and popular culture.


Asian Studies 

Study of one or more of the regions of Asia (East, Southeast, South or parts of Islamic Asia), including aesthetics, culture, history, philosophy, politics, religion and society.


Belief Systems 

Study of how cultures and societies throughout history have developed worldviews through religious beliefs, philosophical traditions and folkways.


Environmental Studies 

Study of human-nature relationships, past and present, including the history and impact of science and technology; the effects of cities, suburbs and rural worlds on the environment; and the ways in which art and design can contribute toward more sustainable and just socio-ecological futures.


European Studies 

Study of one or more regions of Europe (the European continent, or specific European nations and states such as Rome, Germany, Britain), including economics, history, philosophy, politics, society, state-building and warfare.


Gender, Sexuality and Race 

Study of the socio-cultural, legal/ethical, historical, anthropological, psychological, political and sociological aspects of social identity worldwide, with a particular focus on gender, sexual orientation and race.


Media and Cultural Studies 

Study of the relationships between communications, politics and culture, past and present, including the rise and role of culture industries; theories of production, reception and influence; and theoretical debates about culture and society from anthropology, media studies, sociology and psychology.


Politics and Policy 

Study of social and political issues, worldwide, and the various methods that shape understanding of such issues, including empirical research, ethnography, moral philosophy, political science, legal theory and social theory.


Scientific Inquiry 

Scientific Inquiry Banner Image  

Emphasizes the importance of education in the natural sciences for artists and designers, the importance of understanding science in society and the influence of scientific method, and experimental practice across the disciplines.  Course of study should help students develop a broad range of science-literacies and explore the potential contribution of the sciences and of scientific method to critical making and critical thinking.


The Self in Society 

Study of how people perceive, construct, manipulate and maintain views of themselves and the world around them, and how physical and social environments shape people’s identities, motivations, feelings, beliefs and behavior.

Curriculum Requirements for an Undergraduate Concentration in History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences*

 (8 courses = 24 credits)

I. Topics in History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences (HPSS-S101): 1 course (3 credits)
II. 5 track-specific HPSS courses: 5 courses (15 credits)
III. 2 additional track-specific courses from HPSS or from outside the department: 2 courses (6 credits)
Total: 8 courses (24 credits) 
* Requirements differ for the Environmental Studies and Scientific Inquiry tracks.  Please speak to the concentration coordinator for more details.

  • Courses that fulfill requirements in Liberal Arts may also be used to fulfill requirements in the concentration.
  •  Except for HPSS-S101, all courses applied to the concentration must address the theme of a student's chosen track. The concentration coordinator has the discretion to determine whether or not a course is appropriate.
  •  Only one thematically appropriate independent study can be applied to the concentration.
  •  No more than one course earning a grade of a "C+/C/C-" can be counted for the concentration. A grade of "P," or "pass" counts as a "C." No course receiving a grade of a "D+/D" can be counted for the concentration.
  •  There is no penalty for withdrawing from the HPSS concentration. Simply inform the concentration coordinator of your intent to withdraw.
  •  A course at Brown that has been approved for HPSS credit by the Division of Liberal Arts may be applied to your concentration, provided it addresses your chosen track. Other transfer credits may be applied at the approval of the concentration coordinator.




Concentration Coordinator

 Jennifer Prewitt-Freilino profile

Jennifer Prewitt-Freilino

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