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What Heritage Does

The Heritage program covers the history of ideas that have shaped the world and especially the West. We begin with the earliest prehistoric evidence of human civilization we have, including fossils, cave paintings, and Mesopotamian ruins, and over a school year we work our way up the 21st Century. We look at the origins, meanings, and influences of ideas and problems that have driven human culture and see how they have been explored in art, literature, religion, politics, philosophy, and science. This is not a "memorize dates" kind of class. We study issues like: How did agriculture change the world? Why did people start believing in one God? What is the history of love? Where did the idea of the soul come from? What did reading and writing do to culture? What do artworks reveal about people's beliefs? Why were some philosophers and scientists treated like heroes and others put to death? How did epidemic diseases affect religion and economics? --and a thousand other questions.

How Heritage Counts for Your Credits

All Millsaps students must complete a series of central courses (called "Core Courses") that cover certain time periods and the disciplines of history, philosophy, religion, literature, and art (called "foci"). This Core Curriculum contains 10 Core courses. Taking Heritage fulfills Cores 2, 3, 4, and 5 and takes care of all 5 foci. Your other option is to take separate Core 2, 3, 4, and 5 courses (called "Topics Courses") over a 2-year period. Since it covers so much material and counts for so many distribution requirements, Heritage counts as 2 course each semester, so that each semester of Heritage counts for 8 hours of credit, rather than the normal 4 hours of credit for regular classes.

What is the Heritage Schedule Like?

Heritage students meet 4 times a week for presentations (as one large group) and 3 times a week for discussions (in small groups) for two consecutive semesters. See the weekly grid here.

Should You Take Heritage or Topics?

In general, the choice depends on how you best learn and what sort of classroom experience you want. Broadly speaking, there are 3 things to consider.

One, if you like seeing the big picture rather than more detailed views of a single subject, you might prefer Heritage. Whereas a Topics Course might spend an entire semester on World War II, or Greek Drama, or Medieval Romance, Heritage will cover such topics in a day or two, always asking questions about what led to such phenomena and what they led to in turn. Because it is so interdisciplinary, Heritage will also change speakers, topics, and approaches often. You might have a philosopher explaining where the concept of human rights came from one day, a movie on the Crusades that night, and a historian lecturing on the Black Plague the next day.

Two, Heritage will take up more of your time than most Topics courses because it counts for two classes at a time. However, Heritage also finishes in one year and takes care of your Core 2 through Core 5 and fine arts requirements, whereas Topics courses are taken sequentially through your sophomore year. If you like the idea of finishing lots of your requirements quickly, and like the idea of a more intense learning experience, you might prefer Heritage.

Three, Heritage has a different social feel than Topics classes, which are more traditionally organized. Because you meet in small discussion groups 3 times a week in Heritage and the course lasts all year, you get to know your classmates pretty well and spend a lot of time working together. Some students and faculty have variously described Heritage as resembling a summer camp or basic training experience. Students often study together, work on projects together, attend special events together, and of course, debate, argue, and laugh in and out of the classroom. If this sort of non-traditional class sounds appealing, Heritage might be perfect for you.

One of the best ways to decide whether you want to take the Heritage or Topics track is to talk to students who have been through each program and find out what they liked and didn't like. You can check out what some students who really liked Heritage have to say about the course here.

How Heritage Credits Transfer

Heritage (IDS 1118-1128) is a 16-hour program, the equivalent of four courses. The evaluation of transfer credits is always a matter to be determined by the school receiving the credits and completely depends on that school's particular distribution and major requirements. However, the recipient school usually accepts the recommendations of the originating school. Millsaps College, in addition to noting that Heritage fulfills the Millsaps core requirement in Fine Arts, recommends the following equivalencies for the total 16-hour Heritage program:

History (World Civilization) 4 semester hours
Literature (World Literature) 4 semester hours
Philosophy 4 semester hours
Religious Studies 4 semester hours