The Catholic University of America

Artds and Sciences

School of Arts and Sciences
– Since 1896

125 emblem

Historical Highlights

Some early graduates from the college and the seminary found themselves unprepared for advanced studies in subjects not offered by their respective schools. In response, the University administration began to reshape the curriculum to better prepare students for holistic studies of the arts and sciences.

In 1896, the School of Philosophy transferred many of its social science offerings into the newly created School of the Technological Sciences. This reorganization marked the official beginning of undergraduate studies at the University. This reorganization focused on undergraduate and graduate research opportunities, taking advantage of the University’s facilities for instruction and research.

It wasn’t until 1930 that the courses of instruction in the schools of Philosophy, Letters and Sciences would be merged under the name of the Arts and Sciences into two groups — the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences.

The history of the School of Arts and Sciences has been anything but static. The early school was made up of the departments of Economics, Political Science, Sociology and Law. Over the years, these departments faded in and out of use, as endowed chairs and faculty became financially harder to supply. In its recent history, the School of Arts and Sciences has grown to be the largest school at the University, with a total enrollment of 2,696 in 21 departments and programs.

Anniversary Event

In honor of Catholic University’s 125th anniversary, the School of Arts and Sciences  sponsored a presentation on Feb. 15, 2012, on the discovery and 12-year effort to decipher the Archimedes Palimpsest, the earliest surviving manuscript of the work of Archimedes (287-212 B.C.), considered the greatest mathematician of antiquity.

The 10th-century palimpsest consists of seven treatises, fragments of two speeches by the Athenian orator Hyperides, and portions of a commentary on Aristotle’s “Categories” — all previously hidden under the text of pages of a 13th-century prayer book and revealed with the use of modern imaging technology.

The presenter was Dr. William Noel, curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Md., and director of the Archimedes Palimpsest Project. Noel details the discovery of the Archimedex Palimpsest in the book, “The Archimedes Codex: How a Medieval Prayer Book is Revealing the True Genius of Antiquity’s Greatest Scientist.” Co-written with Reviel Netz, professor of classics and philosophy at Stanford University, the book earned the first Neumann Prize from the British Society for the History of Mathematics in 2009.

This event was sponsored by the School of Arts and Sciences, and co-sponsored by the Departments of Chemistry, Greek and Latin, Mathematics, and Physics, and by the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library.