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Departments merge in Faculty of Arts

Two new departments — Classics and Religion, and Anthropology and Archaeology — create new opportunities for students
September 19, 2014
Associate professor Tinu Ruparell, right, head of the new Department of Classics and Religion, and Professor Pascale Sicotte, head of the new Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, lead two new mergers within the Faculty of Arts. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Associate professor Tinu Ruparell, right, head of the new Department of Classics and Religion, and Professor Pascale Sicotte, head of the new Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, lead two new mergers within the Faculty of Arts. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

The departmental landscape of the Faculty of Arts has shifted with two new mergers within the faculty, making sense from both an administrative standpoint and an academic one.

The former departments of Religious Studies and Greek and Roman Studies have now consolidated to form a new Department of Classics and Religion while the former departments of Anthropology and Archaeology have also joined forces as the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology.

“In a faculty as vast as the Faculty of Arts — which itself just came together in 2010 from the merger of the four former faculties of Social Sciences, Humanities, Communication and Culture, and Fine Arts — there are many practical reasons for bringing departments with natural connections together,” says Dean Richard Sigurdson.

“With the merging of these departments we’ve created larger units which will attract more resources while also providing added options and valuable interdisciplinary opportunities for students.”

Associate professor Tinu Ruparell, head of the new Department of Classics and Religion, also sees the benefit of the departmental mergers. “With our merger we’ve become a Canadian centre of expertise and excellence in the study of early Christianity and late Roman Antiquity,” he says. “We have five scholars working in that area, as well as, of course, their graduate students, which is as much or more than anywhere in Canada.”

“We’ve also become a major centre for the study of ancient cultures and languages.” Ruparell adds. “Between the two former departments we now cover all the ancient languages taught at the University of Calgary: Greek, Latin, Tibetan, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Classical Chinese, Coptic and Pali.”

A further strength of the new department is the wide range of disciplines it draws from. “We have a collection of scholars trained in a variety of disciplines,” says Ruparell. “We have philosophers, historians, linguists, anthropologists and archaeologists, biologists, art historians, psychologists and a variety of literature scholars. Together we’re bringing a ton of different methodologies to the table.”

Professor Pascale Sicotte, head of the new Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, feels that certain inherent connections between those disciplines made the merger a logical move.

“We both share a disciplinary background and a general interest in what makes us human,” says Sicotte. “We each want to understand who we are. What is it that makes us different from other primates? What are the unique characteristics, adaptations and traits that make us human? Both anthropology and archaeology are interested in documenting that diversity. We may take different approaches to these vast questions, but we’re asking the same questions.”

Both Sicotte and Ruparrel stress that while the administrative structure of their respective departments has changed, the programs themselves remain distinct. Students can still do degrees in Archaeology or in Anthropology as well as Religious Studies or Greek and Roman Studies.

The office for the new Department of Classics and Religion can be found on in room 558 of the Social Sciences Building. The office for the new Department of Anthropology and Archaeology is located in room 620 of the Earth Sciences Building.