Message From the Dean

DepartmentsWelcome to the Division of Arts and Humanities at UC San Diego.  The arts and the humanities play a fundamental role in carrying out the mission of a student-centered, research-focused, and service-oriented public institution.  Our outstanding faculty members – many among them award-winning teachers – take exceptional pride in guiding our students in their journey of discovery, assisting them as they hone the research skills, aesthetic values and social sensibilities that equip them to thrive – with intelligence and integrity, individually and as communities – in an increasingly interconnected and changing world.  UC San Diego students believe they have the duty to make a difference in society and expect others to do the same. 

As they teach the responsibilities of social citizenship, the arts and the humanities remain committed to the rewards of free inquiry and experimentation. Our students develop habits of the mind – at once flexible and insightful, informed by experience, yet oriented towards innovation – that give them the versatility that is needed to succeed in an ever more complex and volatile global environment.  In the studio and in the classroom, our students relish the many opportunities and challenges – many cross-departmental and cross-divisional – that are provided to them.  They test intellectual presuppositions, choosing when to rely on analytical rigor and when to profit from imaginative leaps, when to pursue independent research and when to become part of collaborative teams, when to focus on outcomes and goals, and when to thrive in open-ended processes. 

This is a mindset that regards understanding and appreciation of diversity as the foundation of unbiased analysis, nuanced and equitable evaluation, and creative originality.  Part of an increasingly international community of scholarship, our students and colleagues bring varied experiences, trainings, methodologies, viewpoints and approaches to bear on shared issues and concerns.  By reaching out to the sciences and the social sciences, they test and transform the existing conventions of intellectual exchange.  By engaging with local and distant communities, they bridge the gap between learning and doing.

Among our faculty members are grant recipients from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation, Guggenheim and MacArthur Prize fellows, and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, Rockefeller 3rd Award and Grawemeyer Award.  Reflective of our faculty’s collective strengths, our programs are both distinguished and diverse.  Scholars, translators and creative writers from numerous cultural areas have shaped the Department of Literature into a hub of international and interdisciplinary engagement.  In the Visual Arts, Music, and Theatre and Dance departments, colleagues and students work in both traditional and new media to engage in transformative and audacious creations, challenging the properties of forms, structures and materials with vision and finesse.  In the Department of History, our scholars provide knowledge, perspective and depth to bear on the challenges of the present, and combine sophisticated disciplinary knowledge with broad engagement across areas and fields. Joining interests ranging from the philosophy of science to metaphysics, and from epistemology to ethics, faculty members in the Department of Philosophy have been instrumental in continuing to develop joint research projects with colleagues in the Science Studies Program and in the Department of Cognitive Science, among others.

It is an honor to serve as dean of the Division of Arts and Humanities at UC San Diego.  My goal as dean is to work with colleagues, students, friends and alumni to promote the arts and humanities’ distinctive place in our institution.  By supporting existing and new collaborations with other divisions and units, the arts and humanities will continue to play a crucial role in furthering the university’s mission of learning, discovery, service and inclusion.

Cristina Della Coletta
Dean of Arts and Humanities
Chancellor's Associates Chair in Italian Literature