SHU Introduces Irish Studies Minor

News Story: February 12, 2011

With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, it seems an appropriate time for Sacred Heart University to launch its new Irish Studies minor. A growing interest among students for a wider range of courses related to Ireland led University officials to provide this new opportunity, said Dr. Gerald Reid, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the University’s Department of Sociology. “Students who have participated in our Irish studies abroad have come back to find that there wasn’t much opportunity on the main campus to continue their Irish studies. As we heard that more and more, we decided to do something about it.”

Students can declare the Irish Studies minor as of the Fall 2011 semester, so classes will be available for registration beginning in April. A highlight of the minor is a requirement that at least three credits come from a class taken in Ireland through the University’s Center for Irish Cultural Studies. The center offers undergraduate study abroad, both full semester and two-week sessions, in Dingle, County Kerry in Ireland. The program is offered in conjunction with Díseart Institute of Irish Spirituality and Culture there. That means students must go to Dingle for one of the University’s intense two-week courses or spend a semester in Ireland. Other core requirements for the 18-credit (six-course) minor are a foundation course in Celtic and Irish history and at least one course each in religious studies and Irish literature. Course will also be offered in the areas of anthropology, media studies, Irish music and political science on a two-year cycle.

“Knowledge of Irish history helps students realize that the past is in the present to some extent and, in the case of Ireland, individual and collective memories play an important role in identity and culture. Irish Studies are also important because Ireland remains one of the cultural origins of many Americans, especially in New England and New York,” said Dr. John B. Roney, who teaches the foundation course in Celtic and Irish history.

Reid is especially excited about the minor’s contemporary focus. “Our courses include the study of patterns of social and cultural change in Ireland and the globalization of Ireland. This makes the minor ideal for students who have in interest in international business or graduate studies that focus on Ireland as well as students with an Irish ancestry or a desire to live in Ireland,” he said. “We have a very active student Celtic Club on campus, which is another reason we thought this minor would be of interest.”

Reid noted that while the Irish studies abroad two-week program is currently only available in January and May, there are plans to eventually offer it in the fall and summer as well. “This minor can be taken with any major and is perfect for students who want to pursue a study of Irish history and culture in a sustained way,” Reid said.