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Student Life in HSS

HSS is unique among Caltech's divisions not only in the content of its courses but also in the range of ways it enables undergraduate students to personally encounter and experience much of that content beyond the classroom. Through field trips, seminars, film screenings, walking lectures, collaborative research opportunities, and community activities, the division supports the integration of its academic mission and fields of study into many aspects of Caltech students' lives, helping them become well-rounded scholars and fostering a broader sense of cultural, civic, and artistic awareness.

HSS encourages students to experience the rich and beautiful backdrop of Southern California while exploring new academic horizons. Humanities classes incorporate trips to Los Angeles Philharmonic performances as well as visits to local museums and cultural landmarks; recent examples include the California Science Center, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the Norton Simon Museum, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, the Watts Towers, and the Center for Land Use Interpretation. Students also participate in collections tours at The Huntington and walking tours of the historic L.A. theater and commercial district.

In the social sciences, students are able to participate in research and experiments in the Social Science Experimental Laboratory (SSEL) and the Caltech Brain Imaging Center (CBIC), both of which are affiliated with HSS. Students also have the opportunity to attend high-level talks and seminars presented by Caltech and visiting faculty and researchers.

In partnership with Student Affairs, HSS also sponsors Caltech's student literary and visual arts publication, Totem (and its associated club), as well as the Japan Internship Program. Students and community members can attend regular film screenings in Baxter Lecture Hall, including a long-running German film series presented in connection with HSS course offerings. As part of its music history and theory courses, the division occasionally hosts musical events and performing artists, such as jazz demonstrations and performances.

These are just a sampling of the many enrichment opportunities available to students as they explore the humanities and social sciences at Caltech.

With The Huntington's Chief Curator of Rare Books, Alan Jutzi, and Caltech professor Kevin Gilmartin as their guides, Caltech students majoring or minoring in English explore archival materials during a behind-the-scenes visit to the Huntington's "Blue Room."