About the department

What is global humanities?

Through our activities and the multidisciplinary nature of our expertise, a community of colleagues and students emerges that participates in fruitful discussions on religion, reason, imagination, citizenship, justice, identity, and the quest for a good life. The Department plays a constructive role in humanities education and research at SFU, partnering particularly with the Departments of English, History, Philosophy, World Languages and Literatures, Indigenous Studies, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies.

Department history


Humanities began as a Program in 1983 following the appointment of Medievalist Paul Dutton, jointly to History and Humanities. Over time, other colleagues joined with joint appointments with and secondments from History, English, Sociology, Philosophy, Psychology, Geography, Spanish, Political Science, and Communication.


Humanities became a Department in 1999, which then also provided a departmental base for the Graduate Liberal Studies Program, which was established at the Harbour Centre campus in 1992, and the (now former) Asia-Canada Program. The Department made its first full-time appointment, a classicist, David Mirhady, in 2000.


The Department’s present configuration resulted from the incorporation of the Hellenic Studies Program into the Department of Humanities. Hellenic Studies itself had its origins in the 1996 appointment (to History) of the late André Gerolymatos as the Hellenic Canadian Congress of BC Chair in Hellenic Studies


Humanities was renamed Global Humanities in 2022. The change reflects the Department's global reach. Far from limiting itself to western and European subject areas, the Department has long engaged with the religion, literature, and philosophies of South and East Asia.

Public Programming and Research


Global Humanities is strongly committed to the wider community both within and outside the university through the activities of the Institute and SNF Centre. The Department works directly with them in fostering community-based research, teaching, and public programming, including workshops and conferences led by scholars of national and international repute and attended by colleagues throughout the university and the wider community.

Institute for the Humanities

Since its inception in 1983, the Institute for the Humanities at SFU has been dedicated to the exploration of the critical perspectives that relate social concerns to the cultural and historical legacy of the humanities. The Institute seeks to facilitate the development of attitudes that lead toward active engagement in society. In taking such a role, the Institute hopes to contribute reflective, contemplative, and critical public points of view on the conflicts and contentious issues of our time.

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SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies

The SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies is dedicated to bringing the latest in mobile technology and pedagogy to the teaching and learning of Greek, and seeks to promote a better understanding of Hellenism in the community by staging events for academic and lay audiences throughout the year. At its core, though, the Centre focuses and supports research at SFU on Hellenic topics, from Antiquity to present-day Greece.

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Endowed Chairships

J. S. Woodsworth Chair in the Humanities

The purpose of the J. S. Woodsworth Endowment is to provide for a full-time teaching position in the Department of Global Humanities and when feasible, fund other positions and community activities in order to recognize the contributions of J. S. Woodsworth to Canada. The holder of the J. S. Woodsworth Chair or Resident Scholar combines teaching and research with active engagement on issues concerning the wider community.

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Hellenic Canadian Congress of BC Chair in Hellenic Studies

The Hellenic Canadian Congress of British Columbia Chair in Hellenic Studies was established in 1996, and made possible through funds raised by the Hellenic Community of Vancouver, along with matching funds from the Province of British Columbia. The Chair's mandate is to promote research and teaching in Greek language, literature, history and culture in ancient, medieval and modern times.

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Endowed Professorships

Hellenic Studies Professorship in Aegean and Mediterranean Societies and Cultures

The Hellenic Studies Professorship in Aegean and Mediterranean Societies and Cultures was made possible through the generous support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). In addition to attracting and supporting a faculty member with demonstrated research excellence, the professorship supports the research and outreach mission of the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies at SFU.

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Edward and Emily McWhinney Professorship in International Relations

The Edward and Emily McWhinney Professorship in International Relations was established in 2016 with a generous donation from the Edward and Emily McWhinney Foundation. The endowment fund is meant to to attract and retain a superior faculty member who is an expert in International Relations, and support the research and outreach missions of the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies.

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