Social sciences, humanities + arts at Union

Union College is leading the way in equipping students with the knowledge, experience and wisdom to tackle important societal issues.

Diedre Butler

A Union education is a powerful one custom-built for the challenges of this century. Union students are critical thinkers, problem solvers and active citizens. They are imbued with a lifelong love of learning. And because of our exemplary approach to integrating studies of the humanities, social sciences and arts with STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math), they are poised to make an extraordinary difference in our world, now and throughout increasingly unknown tomorrows.

There is no better choice for a 21st century education.

There are many good reasons to study arts, humanities and social sciences at Union. Here are few thoughts from Deidre Hill Butler, associate professor of sociology, who also teaches in the Africana Studies, American Studies, and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies programs, and serves as an academic chief diversity officer for the College.

  • Read what Deidre has to say...

    Why study the arts, humanities and social sciences at Union?

    "As one of the nation’s oldest liberal arts colleges, we know how to prepare young people to be intellectually curious and courageous, to be inventive and creative thinkers—qualities very much needed in the 21st century. Our classes are small and deeply personal. Students not only learn academic skills, they learn to experiment with new ways of thinking."

    How does Union embrace diversity in the curriculum?

    "By exposing students to a range of cultures and social groups, we help them make connections and develop empathy for the experiences and identities of others. In the process, they strengthen their muscles for critical thinking and challenging stereotypes. These are skills students need for their careers and for the rest of their lives."

    What kinds of interdisciplinary opportunities exist?

    "We combine subjects and majors in so many different ways, and we’re exploring new ways all the time. I recently team-taught a course with biology professor Barb Danowski, “Social Identities and Science in the Genomic Age,” that brought together her upper level cancer cell biology lab with my Introduction to Africana Studies class. We used the best seller, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” as a jumping off point to integrate across the two fields. It was a fascinating combination of genetics, bioethics and Afro-futurism."

    How would you describe the student-faculty relationship at Union?

    "It's at the core of everything we do. Academic advisers, class deans and individual professors are committed to helping students discover interests and prepare for their future. It’s a shared academic and personal journey all the way."

Small classes. Top-notch academics and research. Professors who care.


You may combine your program with majors and minors in the sciences and engineering.

Intellectual. Creative. Inspiring.


Research from A to Z

Hands-on, faculty-mentored undergraduate research is at the heart of a Union education. All year round, students work closely with their professors—in classrooms, studios, archives and in the field—delving into topics that intrigue and challenge them. And for one day each May, the College suspends classes so that students can share their academic and creative interests and talents in the Steinmetz Symposium, a campus-wide celebration with peers, professors and families.

Here's a look at a few recent Steinmentz presentations by students.

  • Ancient Greek in Chinese Translation
  • Asian-American Identity in the Pacific Northwest
  • Babylonian Captivity and Rise of Monotheism
  • Colonial Mining and Contemporary Trust in Latin America
  • Disparity and Its Implications on Health in France Effectiveness of U.S. Private Aid
  • Found in Translation: Language, Meaning and Global Citizenship
  • George Büchner: An Overlooked Author at the Crossroads of German Literature
  • How Trade Policies Affect Stock Prices of U.S. Multinational Corporations
  • “Lies We Tell Our Fathers,” Poetry Collection Nomads: Myanmar Culture and Political Struggles through Large-Scale Paintings
  • Party Polarization and Presidential Approval Storytelling in Music and the Redefinition of Late 20th Century
  • Singer-Songwriters Tale of Black Resistance
  • The Unraveling of Global Incarceration Systems
  • War, Controversy, Space: Rocket Development, 1920s Germany to 1960s America
  • Women, Religion and Happiness
  • Zero Tolerance Policy and School Policing

Classic Union research

Working with Hans-Friedrich Mueller, the Thomas Lamont Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature, Kyle Doney '20 designed and prototyped an IOS eReader that will simplify and digitize an edition of Julius Caesar's "Commentarii de bello Gallico" ("Commentaries on the Gallic War"), produced by Mueller.

Studies and stories immersed in real life

Serving as writers, editors, designers and marketing specialists, students in Professor Christine Henseler self-published a book featuring works on topics ranging from poverty to pollution.

Our first-rate facilities offer countless ways to meet your muse, enrich your knowledge and expand your experiences.


Extraordinary spaces

» EXPLORE a wide range of subjects, from anthropology to philosophy, in depth and breadth through coursework, literature, research projects and presentations in Karp Hall, Lippman Hall and Lamont House. These recently renovated buildings for the humanities and social sciences house classrooms, seminar rooms, and library and study spaces. The technology-rich Karp performance classroom accommodates multi-media presentations, literary readings, panel discussions and film screenings

» MAKE your mark in stunning new painting, drawing, sculpting and printmaking studios with ample light and space. Tap into your talents in our fully equipped digital media lab, large new photography darkroom and photography suites, and woodshop and welding studios. Connect with artists and exhibit your own work in two professional galleries. Find all of this and more in the Feigenbaum Center for Visual Arts.

» TUNE IN to a wide spectrum of music in the Taylor Music Center, which offers the intimate experience of a conservatory within a small liberal arts setting. Compose your own music and learn about others’ at our All-Steinway school. Enjoy the 100-seat Emerson Auditorium, a choral library, and studios specifically dedicated to music technology, early music and music from around the world.

» REHEARSE and perform as part of campus choral and orchestral ensembles and student a capella groups in historic Memorial Chapel. This century-old building is known for its superb sound, with an acoustical ceiling designed by one of America’s preeminent scientists.

» DELVE into all aspects of theater, from acting to stage design, in the Yulman Theater. In this modern complex you'll find the Main Stage, which hosts major student productions; the Black Box Theater, a flexible space for staged readings and monologues; an actor’s studio and a design studio; and a scenic shop that accommodates stagecraft and specialty construction classes.

» MOVE! The 7,000-square-foot Henle Dance Pavilion overlooking Jackson's Garden is a hub for technique classes in ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop and choreography. It features a spring-floor dance studio and lobby/rehearsal space; 20-foot ceilings that safely permit lifts and aerials; and classrooms, a costume shop and meeting rooms.

» ENJOY cultural events in the Nott Memorial, the striking 16-sided National Historic Landmark that is the centerpiece of campus. It is home to the Mandeville Gallery, which exhibits nationally recognized contemporary artists; the Wikoff Student Gallery, which presents student works and the campus-wide LGBTQ+ exhibit; and the annual Lothridge Festival of Dance. You can also attend author readings and guest presentations in the Nott.

» READ, research and study in Schaffer Library, which houses the Writing Center and the Language Center, offering peer support and mentoring. Discover the Department of Archives and Special Collections, which contains original and rare manuscripts, prints, drawings, books, maps, photographs, sound recordings and other materials.

Studying the liberal arts at Union means more than taking classes or working in the lab. On campus and off, there are great ways to become involved in activities geared toward your interests, including clubs, internships, service and terms abroad.


On campus

With more than 130 student clubs (and new ones being formed all the time), here’s a sampling of those that draw students from the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Anime Club Chinese
Students and Scholars Association
Concordiensis student newspaper
Classics Club
Dutch Oven satirical newspaper
Film Club
Economics Club (Ceteris Paribus)
Entrepreneurship Club
French Club
Garnet yearbook
German Club
LatinX Dance Club
Mountebanks Drama Society
Philosophy Club
Pre-Law Society
Russian and European Cultures Club
Seward's Folly Improv
Spanish Club
The Idol literary magazine
The Minerva Review
The Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics

OFF campus

Union students have interned at these and other organizations:

AIDS Action Committee
Conde Nast Publications
Family + Child Services
Goldman Sachs
Hunger Action Network
Legal Aid Society
Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp.
Morgan Stanley
New York State Attorney General
Proctors Theater
Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Urban Education Leaders
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
U.S. Senate
Y+R Global Marketing
Nature Conservancy
New York Department of Environmental Conservation
Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research
Semprus Bioscience
Sierra Leone Health Care
Stanley Black & Decker
Yale Bioethics Institute

Economics course aids Schenectady families

When is a college course also a much-needed service to the local community? When it is Union’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program or VITA, which helps local families prepare their tax returns free of charge while giving students hands-on experience in economics. The program, a partnership with the IRS and many local agencies, was created in 2005. Since then, it has helped secure millions in state and federal refunds for hundreds of low-income working families and senior citizens. Students in the service-learning class, “Income Tax Policy and Practice,” volunteer several nights a week at Union’s Kenney Community Center during prime tax season and also help train volunteers at other city sites. They must first complete IRS training and pass a certification exam.

Internship focuses on the theatrical world

Whether in front of the footlights or behind the stage, Union students gain experience with a professional theater or dance company as part of an internship offered through the Department of Theater and Dance. Theater students get involved with downtown Schenectady's historic Proctors theater, whose PB&J Café offers children a lively, interactive musical theater experience. Student involvement ranges from acting and production to management and administrative work.

Liberal arts abroad

  • Take an intensive language course while living with a host family in Seville, Spain.
  • Intern at an entertainment or retail firm in Shanghai, China.
  • Use the ancient temples and tombs of Greece as a living laboratory.

With Union's international programs, you'll experience another culture, challenge yourself academically and personally, and develop as a citizen of the world. Most programs are led by our own Union faculty, so you also will get to know your professors beyond the campus environment.

Our emphasis on innovation, research, problem-solving and communications will set you up for success in graduate schools, fellowships and a wide range of careers.


Here's a look at what some of our graduates are doing:


  • Assistant principal, KIPP Massachusetts
  • J.D. candidate, Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
  • Public health associate, Centers for Disease Control


  • Manager, interactive, Guggenheim Museum
  • Production coordinator, Houghton Muffin Harcourt
  • Senior research associated, The Oxbridge Group


  • Program supervisor, C.O.C.O.A. House
  • Project assistant, Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • U.S. Fulbright Scholar, Athens, Greece


  • Manager, stewardship, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
  • Educator, Hudson River Museum
  • Researcher, Catalogue Raisonné, Roy Lichtenstein Foundation


  • Associate, TrailRunner International, Shanghai
  • M.B.A. candidate, Columbia Business School
  • Social studies teacher, Bethlehem Central Senior High School


  • J.D. candidate, University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • Latin teacher, Indian Mountain School
  • M.B.A. candidate, NYU Stern School of Business


  • Financial adviser, Merrill Lynch
  • Investment banking analyst, Barclays
  • Data analyst, Bloomberg LP


  • M.A. candidate, English literature, Lehigh University
  • Watson Fellow, focus on storytelling dance tradition
  • Writer, Application Services, Epic


  • Director of grants and advancement, Saga Education
  • Master of public health candidate, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
  • M.D. student, Albany Medical College


  • Corps member, Teach for America
  • Director, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
  • Director of digital marketing, Choice Waste


  • Community-based service advocate, YWCA Central Massachusetts
  • Paralegal, National Immigrant Justice Center
  • M.S. candidate in homeland security, American University

MODERN LANGUAGES (Chinese, French, German, Russian, Spanish)

  • Arms control treaties analyst, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Fulbright English teaching assistant, Fulbright Taiwan
  • Master of Philosophy candidate, University of Cambridge
  • Operations assistant, French Institute Alliance Francaise
  • Resident physician, emergency medicine, Boston Medical Center
  • U.S. director, Idiomatic Language Services


  • Audio engineer, Stwertka Publishing
  • M.A. candidate, John Hopkins University
  • Pianist and composer, self-employed


  • Associate, international law, White & Case LLP
  • Communities manager, Solutions Journalism Network
  • Senior analyst, Walker & Dunlop


  • Judicial law clerk, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Ph.D. candidate, Duke University
  • Special assistant, U.S. Department of Treasury


  • J.D. candidate, Albany Law School
  • Public health analyst, U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration
  • Teaching Fellow, English and Religion, Esperanza Academy


  • Associate product manager, Hologic, Inc.
  • Editorial assistant, Springer Nature, NYC
  • Program coordinator, Community Healthcare Network


  • English teaching assistant, Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF)
  • Marketing specialist, Zipcar
  • Mental health clinician, The Village for Families & Children


  • Actor and education director, Arizona Theatre Company
  • Director of communications, Jewish Arts Collaborative
  • M.F.A. candidate in stage management, University of California, Irvine


ALAN HORN '64 » Entertainment industry executive who led 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. before serving in current role as chief creative officer and co-chairman of Walt Disney Studio

KATE WHITE ’72 » New York Times best-selling author of career books for women and mystery novels; former Hearst executive and editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine

JULIE BRESLOW '87 » Magistrate judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and adjunct law professor at Georgetown Law

CHRISTINE BRENNAN '91 » Senior researcher and collections manager, The Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

BRANDON TORRES DECLET '97 » Co-founder and CEO of Measure, an aerial intelligence company; previously held senior positions in the NYPD (counter-terrorism/intelligence counsel) Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees, and House Homeland Security Committee

JOANNA STERN '06 » Senior personal technology columnist at the Wall Street Journal

JENNIFER PASTER '98 » Lieutenant, Brookline (Mass.) Police Department; head of the Crisis Intervention Team, dedicated to deescalating situations and seeking viable jail alternatives; co-creator of the Autism and Law Enforcement Coalition to foster deeper understanding of autism spectrum disorders among law enforcement

BEN SCHWARTZ '03 » Emmy award-winning comedy writer and actor best known for “Parks and Recreation” and “House of Lies”; voice of “Sonic the Hedgehog”

RACHEL RACUSEN '04 » Communications expert who has served as a director and strategic adviser at Snap Inc., the White House, the Obama re-election campaign and the U.S. House of Representatives; as vice president of communications at MSNBC; and as director of public affairs for FEMA

CARLA REEVES '08 » Board member, Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association; volunteer attorney, Women’s Bar Foundation’s Family Law Project for Domestic Abuse Survivors; mentor, Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association; member, Women’s Bar Association’s Women of Color Committee

JOSEPH MASON '12 » Principal at Urban Prep Academies in Chicago, recognized for sustaining a decade-long 100 percent college acceptance rate