The Intellectual Heritage curriculum comprises two complementary classes taken by all Temple University undergraduates as part of their GenEd coursework. As a student, you’ll have the option to take your Intellectual Heritage classes online, in an ESL setting, or even abroad.

The Intellectual Heritage Program

Now in its fifth decade, Intellectual Heritage (IH) is the pair of core humanities courses all Temple undergraduates take. The curriculum introduces students to intellectually and artistically influential works, both ancient and modern, from cultures around the world. In small seminars, students read and discuss books that have shaped the ways people think and act, working together to interpret their historical significance, their relation to one another, and their relevance today. IH asks students to discover and debate timeless questions of human experience, to face different values and viewpoints fairly, and to examine the present in relation to the past. The attitudes cultivated in IH—thoroughness, open-mindedness, intellectual courage, and vision — prepare today’s students, tomorrow’s citizens, for lasting learning and engaged lives.

Intellectual Heritage courses are intended to teach students how to:

  • Develop critical approaches to reading a set of shared texts, while communicating their ideas, asking questions, and actively listening to peers in a free and honest exchange of multiple viewpoints.
  • Sharpen analysis and argumentation skills through a variety of expressive modes.
  • Evaluate the historical, social, and cultural bases of prevailing beliefs.
  • Investigate fundamental questions of human experience from a variety of perspectives.
  • Make connections between historical texts about human existence and current moral, social, and political issues. 
image of students in reacting to the past class

The Intellectual Heritage Curriculum

Our two courses are complementary, not sequential. IH 851 is not a prerequisite for IH 852. Students may take IH 851 and IH 852 in any order.

IH 851—Intellectual Heritage I: The Good Life

Students will read important works of world literature, philosophy, and religion, from ancient epics to graphic novels, with a focus on individual well-being. We will ask questions like: What do we value, and why? What makes for happiness? What’s right and wrong? How is what’s good for me defined by my relation to others? What is the purpose of life?

IH 852—Intellectual Heritage II: The Common Good

Students will read important works of social, political, and scientific thought, with a focus on well-being for societies. We will ask questions like: Where does society come from? How do we balance individual liberty and the public good? What behaviors and practices perpetuate injustice? Can we create a better society? How do power and privilege define our capacity to make change? How do we find truth? Can facts be detached from cultural contexts?

IH Online

The Intellectual Heritage Program runs several online sections of Intellectual Heritage I and II each semester. These sections meet asynchronously, only online, and may benefit students whose schedule or location makes it difficult to attend class in-person. The curriculum and workload are the same as all other sections of IH I and II (same texts, same expectations of critical reading and writing). Intensive participation in online discussion forums takes the place of traditional seminar discussion.


The Intellectual Heritage Program runs several sections of IH I and II each semester that are reserved for students for whom English is a Second Language. Only ESL/Bilingual students may register for these sections. These smaller sections provide opportunities for extra practice to students in speaking and listening and in reading closely and analyzing the IH texts. The curriculum is the same as all other sections of IH, and completion of the courses fulfills the Intellectual Heritage requirement in General Education. Eligible students can register for these sections via Self-Service Banner. If your registration is blocked but you believe you are eligible, please contact Jessie Iwata or Douglas Greenfield and include:

  • Your name
  • TUID
  • CRN of the course for which you wish to register

Please contact Jessie Iwata, ESL Coordinator, with any further questions about our ESL sections.