HPSS Overview

History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences (HPSS) is an interdisciplinary department that offers a wide variety of courses on the nature of human life—past and present—in its psychological, social, political, intellectual, philosophical and cultural contexts and manifestations. Courses in Western and world history, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, political science, sociology, religion and American and cultural studies are designed to help you broaden your knowledge while developing stronger critical thinking, reading and writing skills.

LAEL Science For Art and Design

Liberal arts science electives are courses developed for student artists and designers interested in biology, ecology, cognitive science, mathematics, physics, geology, and the natural world in general. All emphasize science literacy, and many encourage students to connect the subject matter to their studio work. Twelve LAEL science courses are offered each year by the Department of History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences (HPSS). Please see the Spring 2014 Courses Flyer for information on our spring 2014 offerings. 

Nature Lab

This collection of more than 80,000 natural history objects and live specimens is a unique way to learn about art and design in nature.

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Fleet Library at RISD

With more than 150,000 volumes, RISD's library has a rich collection in art, design, architecture + photography.

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Department Head

Damian White

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Writing Center

Skilled student tutors provide free one-to-one peer tutoring in writing.

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Kyobo Fund Courses

The Kyobo Fund supports innovative, interdisciplinary courses that are team-taught by faculty from Liberal Arts and a studio discipline.

  • The Art of Scientific Communication (LAEL/Illustration)
  • The Witness Tree Project (HPSS/Furniture)
  • Aqua Incognita (HPSS/Photography)
  • Representing the “Real” (HPSS/FAV)
  • Producing Meaning: Theories of Technology Since 1850 (HPSS/Architecture)
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The Fleet Library at RISD offers a comfortable spot to stop and read any of the more than 400 art
and design magazines regularly available.