Associate in Arts (AA)
In a sense, the goal of studying the Humanities is the goal of understanding nearly everything.
The range of subject matter studied extends from the most important and powerful things ever thought or written, to the cultures that have shaped and been shaped by those ideas, to the specific people - good and sometimes less than good - who have created and continue to create our world's mental landscape.
You might decide to concentrate particularly on literature, philosophy, drama, music, writing or foreign languages. Exploring any of those areas separately is well worth your time. Pursuing them in combination will give you a knowledge base that will never fail you as your life unfolds.
No matter what career you pursue, studying the Humanities at SUNY Cobleskill will develop and refine your critical thinking skills. It will make you a better communicator. It will spark insights that you might otherwise never have had. It will set you on the path to understanding.
Courses in the Humanities are broad and varied so they can engage and consider our world through everything from writing and literature to philosophy, drama, music, and foreign languages. Students in the program learn to not simply comprehend course material but to also apply it to the larger human experience as a way to gain deeper understanding and appreciation. This gives graduates a wide-ranging background and the creative and critical thinking skills that are central components for a variety of job opportunities. Sample classes include:
The skills acquired in the course of earning a Humanities degree are numerous, wide-ranging and transferable to many different work environments. And this, in turn, makes our graduates highly attractive to employers large and small, public and private.
Among the skills that SUNY Cobleskill's Humanities students will develop and hone are:
Our Humanities department provides students with many opportunities for real-life learning through study in places like Finland, Mexico, Costa Rica and Italy, as well as many other countries.
Humanities students are required to complete a Capstone project in the final semester of their senior year.
Students work within a general topic (determined by the course instructor and publicized in advance), bringing to bear their own interest and the learning gained from their experience in the program. These projects demonstrate students' competency in core learning outcomes such as teamwork, critical thinking, information literacy, writing and speaking proficiency, and a depth of knowledge in some specific area of the humanities. Projects that involve the campus community are encouraged.
Matthew Burns, PhD
Associate Professor - Humanities
Born and raised in upstate New York, Matthew Burns, an assistant professor, teaches a variety of writing and literature courses. He holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Binghamton University, a Master’s in American Studies from Lehigh University, and a Bachelor’s in English from the University of Rochester. His poetry and essays have appeared in numerous national and international journals and his poem “Rhubarb” was the winner of the James Hearst prize from North American Review; others have been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. Beyond creative work, Dr. Burns has served as editor of Harpur Palate and a special graffiti-themed issue of Rhizomes: Culture Studies in Emerging Knowledge. His scholarly work often focuses on the less-than-common and has included papers and courses on subjects as varied as Graffiti Linguistics, 20th-Century Music Subcultures, Hobos and Contemporary Transience, and Working Class Literature.
Leigh Ann Christain, PhD
Assistant Professor - Humanities
Dr. Leigh Ann Christain is an Associate Professor of Composition and ESOL in the Liberal Studies Department, and her responsibilities include teaching a wide variety of English courses. An English BA and Philosophy & Religion BA graduate of Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, Dr. Christain earned an MA and PhD in English (with a Creative Writing concentration) from the University of South Dakota. She is a Pushcart nominee and an Arctic Circle Art and Science resident who has had poems published in such journals as Seneca Review, Oxford Poetry, and The Lifted Brow, among others, and her full-length poetry collection, Tall As You Are Tall Between Them, was published by C&R Press in 2016. Her recent poetry awards include the Green Mountains Review Neil Shepard Prize, Phoebe’s Greg Grummer Poetry Award, the Oakland School for the Arts Enizagam Poetry Award, and ICON’s Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Contest Grand Prize. Dr. Christain’s writing and teaching is informed by her international teaching experience in China and South Korea, and as co-advisor of the International Club, she creates opportunities for students to share cultural knowledge.
Sinikka Grant, PhD
Associate Professor - Humanities
A native of Finland, Dr. Sinikka Grant joined the Liberal Studies department in 2014. Her areas of specialization are American literature, African American literature, and drama. She teaches a variety of classes in Humanities, such as Introduction to Literature, Introduction to Drama, Multicultural Literature, African American Literature, Stagecraft, and the Humanities Capstone Seminar. Dr. Grant’s research interests are the intersections of history, memory, and violence in African American literature and culture, and notions of community in American literature and culture. Dr. Grant has presented her research in many national conferences, such as American Literature Association and College English Association. Her article, “'Their baggage a long line of separation and dispersement’: Haunting and Trans-generational Trauma in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” was published in College Literature. To further her education in theatre arts, Dr. Grant recently attended an intensive workshop on directing at Yale School of Drama. She also advises the college drama club, The Dramatic Tigerians. Dr. Grant has a Ph.D. in English from University at Buffalo and an M.A and B.A. in English from Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland.
Associate Professor - Humanities
Associate Professor Kathy J. Johnson earned both a MA and a BA from Michigan State University and has worked for SUNY Cobleskill since 1987. Prof. Johnson’s first twenty years on campus were supporting students as director of the tutoring center, but since 2007 she has been in the classroom teaching composition and literature. She believes the real purpose of education is to mentor students and to help them discover what is important to them to become the engaged, thoughtful, self-aware citizens of tomorrow. In class, Prof. Johnson stresses the importance of effective communication because this may be the determining factor in a hiring or promotional situation for students; employers are looking for strong skills in writing and presenting. Prof. Johnson also holds permanent NYS teaching certifications and can teach not only what to learn but also how to learn. Her favorite class to teach is Women’s Literature, and she enjoys travelling to warm climates to study literature and culture during cold months. Prof. Johnson was born and raised in agricultural West Michigan and feels right at home in this region. She lives on the Helderberg Escarpment with breathtaking views of the Hudson Valley with her family including two dachshunds. When not grading papers or preparing for class, she enjoys sewing for charity auctions, gardening, baking, and reading. In 2017, she was the recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Faculty Service.
Assistant Professor - Humanities
Kristina Johnson has been directing the music performance groups and teaching music history at SUNY Cobleskill since 2001. The college offers a Jazz Band and Choir which perform for various events such as Homecoming Weekend, Commencement and Showcase Concerts. On the professional side, Professor Johnson has been playing saxophone for a few decades. She started performing during high school in Los Angeles, mainly in jazz quartets and big bands. Her love for jazz and dance bands has continued through the years. For the last 17 years, she has been the lead alto saxophonist for the Joey Thomas Big Band. The swinging Albany-based, Grammy-nominated ensemble performs Sinatra and World War II music. The group has also backed up the legendary Temptations.
She also performs in various groups such as The Sam Whedon Band, Brass'O'Mania, The Blues Maneuver that play funky dance grooves while the whole room is dancing, and the walls are vibrating.
Academically, she holds a BA - Music from UC Santa Cruz, BS - Education from SUNY Oneonta and a Master's Degree in Music Education from The College of Saint Rose.
Professor - Humanities
Professor McGiver teaches a variety of courses in the department, including Intro to Humanities, Public
Speaking, Short Story, Nature Writing and Cinema & Society. In the past, he has served
as the president of both the Schoharie County Arts Council and the “Everyman Theater
Group.” Prof. McGiver is a member of SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and has been in two
off-Broadway theater productions and made five television commercials. Early in his
career at Cobleskill, he directed productions for the stagecraft course and wrote
and performed “The Life and Times of Jack London” – a dramatic monologue for the campus
and community. Prof. McGiver holds a BA in Speech Communications and Theater from
Richmond College, an M.Th from the Swedish Institute, an MA of Humanities from SUNY
Albany and is currently finishing his DA in Humanistic studies. He always tells his
students to try and discover a lifestyle in which they will find great satisfaction,
enjoyment and reward. That is what SUNY Cobleskill has done for him.