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Calvin College Press

Practically Human (2012)

edited by Gary Schmidt and Matthew Walhout

If you are a student wondering what to study in college, this book is for you. It invites you to seek out the practical benefits of studying literature, language, the arts, history, religion, and philosophy. These disciplines -- known collectively as the humanities -- will teach you to analyze complex social dynamics, articulate good arguments, and apply the hard-won wisdom of the past to new and challenging situations.

Paperback: 978-1937555-03-0, $13.99
eBook: 978-1-937555-04-7, $9.99

Where to Purchase

Buy now from

Calvin College Campus Store: 616-526-6376 or 800-748-0122


"The intellectual insights offered in this book are what we would expect from members of Calvin College's world-class faculty. What we also get, however, is some marvelous storytelling about personal scholarly pilgrimages. A must-read for people who need to be convinced of the value of Christian liberal arts education. And a fine refresher course for those of us who are already convinced!"
Richard Mouw
President and Professor of Christian Philosophy
Fuller Theological Seminary
"The humanities are dying, or so we're told. These authors enliven them with stories, examples, and images that nourish the mind and soul. They challenge us to expand our humanity--to think more deeply, to listen more carefully, to see more astutely, and to empathize more profoundly."
Perry L. Glanzer
Associate Professor of Educational Foundations
Baylor University
"This book explores multiple paths on which faculty members engage students in a distinctive calling to learn. The authors are seasoned educators who describe how beliefs, ideas, and joy should intersect in robust undergraduate education. What an encouragement to choose an educational journey where faith, mind, heart, and service grow together!"
Shirley Roels
Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education
Council of Independent Colleges


Introduction: Two Farms

Gary Schmidt and Matthew Walhout

Greater Than Gold: The Humanities and the Human Things
Lee Hardy, Philosophy

"The Ducks Are Hazards in the Classroom": Learning to Listen with Perception and Grace
Benita Wolters-Fredlund, Music

Who Wants to Live in the "Real" World?
Will Katerberg, History

Getting Engaged: The Joys of Studying History
Karin Maag, History

Good Looking
Henry Luttikhuizen, Art and Art History

Science in a Human Matrix
Matthew Walhout, Interdisciplinary Studies of Science

Ruining the Movies?
Carl Plantinga, Film and Media Studies

Why Stories Matter More Than Ever: A Letter to a Friend Just Beginning College
Jennifer Holberg, Literature

Why Come to College to Study Writing?
Gary Schmidt, Writing

How a Speech Can Change an Audience: Why Studying Public Address Is Important
Kathi Groenendyk, Rhetorical Studies

Shouting at Your Neighbor: Why We Bother with Other Peoples' Languages
David I. Smith, Foreign Languages

New Life from Ancient Texts
David Noe, Classics

An Invitation
Won Lee, Biblical Studies