First Year Seminar | Composition | Effective Oral Communication | Mathematics | Civilization: Historical Perspectives | Foreign Languages and Cultures | Social Science | Literature | The Arts | Theology | Natural Science | Philosophy | American Studies | Contemporary Global Studies

Category Description

First-Year Seminar (3 Credits)
The First-Year Seminar provides an opportunity for a small group of students to meet with an instructor to explore issues of ethical, social and culture significance. The word seminar comes from the Latin word for seed-plot, a place where plants are started in order to be transplanted elsewhere. In the academic world, a seminar is a place where ideas are nurtured and where students cultivate their skills in working with texts and in presenting ideas and interpretations. In this seminar, students will read widely and closely in a variety of texts to develop their critical reading and thinking skills and to examine an issue that students might choose to explore in greater depth in subsequent courses. The importance of being able to read with understanding and critical judgment cannot be underestimated. Academic success, professional competence, cultural literacy, and intellectual development depend fundamentally on flexible reading skills that can be applied to a wide range of texts. Reading with “understanding” involves several important processes: comprehending and contextualizing information; identifying meaningful patterns and conventions; identifying key ideas, claims, and assumptions; synthesizing an author’s ideas with the reader’s experiences and knowledge; and developing a comprehensive and well-informed interpretation. Reading with “critical judgment” is a similarly complex task that includes reading with a sense of objectivity, asking questions about what a text literally says and what it implies, evaluating an author’s reasoning, and assessing the degree to which a writer has achieved his or her purpose.

These courses will be introductions to college-level academic study with emphasis on critical reading and discussion. Topics will vary, but each seminar will focus on questions and issues relevant to the liberal arts. The course will emphasize the development of students’ reading and thinking skills through close textual analysis of a range of works. The seminar also seeks to enhance students’ ability to synthesize a variety of textual materials in order to express ideas, formulate positions, and construct oral and written arguments.

Composition (3 Credits)
The liberally educated person must be able to discover ideas and express them clearly and effectively in writing. As creative art, writing shapes experience into knowledge and is, therefore, essential to the development of the person and to the health of free institutions. As a facet of effective communication, writing is also a practical art, one that society respects and regards as necessary for success in all careers and professions. Courses in composition emphasize writing clearly, effectively and interestingly for a variety of purposes and audiences. Individual conferences, writing workshops, journal writing, and regular writing assignments provide students with practice in each step of the writing process.

Effective Oral Communication (3 Credits)
Courses in effective speaking provide enlightened citizens with essential tools for cultural survival. Educated adults should be able to assimilate and evaluate information and ideas and to express opinions and information in a clear and effective manner. To this end, a course focusing on communication skills provides foundational training for the liberal arts student. More than just public speaking classes, oral communication courses include training in a variety of skills necessary for communicating intelligently in contexts both public and private, on matters of both individual and collective concern. At King’s, these skills include, among others, developing clear purpose statements, organizing ideas strategically, validating ideas with substantive support, wording ideas effectively, preparing presentation materials, delivering words with confidence and energy, negotiating the dynamic of group work and collaboration, analyzing the messages of others, and distinguishing empty rhetoric from facts.

Mathematics (3 Credits)
A liberally educated person should appreciate both the beauty and utility of mathematics. Studying mathematics increases the intellectual sophistication of students by engaging them in rigorous thought, fostering the ability to approach problems creatively, and requiring precise communication of ideas. As a result, mathematics contributes significantly to a liberal arts education by enhancing the ability of students to learn how to learn. In addition, it has become imperative in a society grown more and more quantitative for the well-educated person to have a deeper understanding of mathematics. No matter one’s primary field of study, a college student will be confronted in school and beyond with arguments and decisions that are rooted in mathematics. It is thus essential for students to enhance both their understanding of how mathematics plays a role in everyday life and their overall perception of mathematics as a discipline.

Civilization: Historical Perspectives (3 Credits)
Studying humanity’s past, its hopes and frustrations, failures and triumphs, helps us both to understand our complex world and to take responsibility for shaping its future. Vital to the education of professional men and women of the 21st century, historical literacy improves our ability to judge and decide both private and public issues in a context of respect for our own and other peoples’ traditions. Only through a critical examination of human experience can we hope to avoid repeating mistakes and to build on successes. These courses will develop critical thinking skills in an historical context and build the cultural knowledge that unites many other areas of the Core.

In this category, students may choose from either World Civilizations or Western Civilizations.

Foreign Cultures/Foreign Languages (3 Credits)
An awareness of cultures outside the United States deepens our understanding of our diverse world our place in it. When we step beyond our limited cultural surroundings and attempt to enter into the minds of others in the world community, we are often confronted with values and perspectives that challenge our beliefs and assumptions. The liberally educated individual whose philosophy of life is solidly grounded in human and humane principles should understand cultural diversity and be equipped to address it with empathy and sensitivity. Foreign language courses and foreign culture courses taught in English provide this important dimension of a liberal arts education.

(Students choose either CORE 140 or one of the foreign language courses numbered 141 through 146. Students who select a foreign language are assisted in determining the appropriate level at which to begin their study. Advanced placement credit is available, subject to certain conditions, for students who begin with Language 143 or higher. See the section on Foreign Languages and Literatures for further information.)

Social Science (3 Credits)
Knowledge of the substance, motivation, and consequences of both individual and collective human behavior is essential to the liberally educated person. Economic, political, psychological, and sociological perspectives can provide insights into human behavior and relationships in a complex world. Courses in this category will offer an introduction to the social sciences with an emphasis on such issues as the causes and consequences of human behavior, the ways in which societies are organized, and the interconnectedness of various institutions within these societies.

In this category, students may choose from either
1. Interdisciplinary Social Science Core - Focus on topical issues.
[Generally a revised version of the current Core 150]

2. Interdisciplinary Social Science Core - Focus on the individual in society.
[A version of the course proposed by Charlie Brooks]

Literature (3 Credits)
We read literature for a variety of reasons. Literature provides a set of guidelines for understanding the motives and actions of other people, a window into the past, a reflection of the values and concerns of a culture, a model for better writing, a chance to escape or to confront the troubles of our world, and an invitation to more profound thinking about important questions and the human condition. Above all, literature—stories, plays, poems, and essays—accomplishes something that no other form of expression accomplishes as well: it increases our imaginations, and hence our capacity to feel and to empathize. Literary works of imagination and beauty express and evoke human emotions in a powerful way. They involve the whole person, mind and heart, unlike any other activity, and are therefore essential to a full understanding of who we are, what we value, and what we can become. Through the reading, analysis and interpretation of literature, we begin to understand how it achieves its profound and potentially life-altering impact on readers.

Courses in this category will introduce students to the genres of poetry, fiction, and drama with emphasis on improving students’ ability to read, analyze and interpret literary texts. Individual sections may explore one of a variety of literary modes (such as folklore, myth, satire, or tragedy) or themes (ecological literature, women’s voices in literature, literature of work, and others) that provide a unique perspective on universal human experiences, ideals, and values. Offerings may include literature from any period and from any geographical area.

The Arts (3 Credits)
The study of the Creative Arts presents the opportunity to explore multiple dimensions of human expression while promoting imaginative and critical thinking. Courses in this category provide means of communication and interaction that transcend cultural and socioeconomic barriers while encouraging the integration of the physical, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of life. The liberally educated person appreciates how performance and analysis of aesthetic endeavors connects the abstract to the concrete and the inner self to the outer world, and uses that appreciation to strengthen her or his own self-expression.

Courses in this category will include courses in the performing and creative arts including theater, music, music history, art, art history, creative writing, film, as well as courses that might address more than one of these arts.

Theology (6 Credits)
King’s College is a Catholic Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences. The task of helping students learn to interact critically with Christian tradition is central to the mission of the college.

Systematic & Biblical Theology is the discipline of reflecting critically on the beliefs and practices of Christianity as displayed in the Scripture (Old and New Testaments) and Tradition of the catholic Christian community. Students are given the opportunity in these courses to explore critically from a variety of perspectives the Christian (and by extension and in part, the Jewish) worldview in light of Christianity’s 2,000 year coexistence with various social-cultural configurations.

Moral Theology is the discipline of reflecting critically and constructively on the Christian way of life in light of the claims of Christianity with respect to human beings. Students are encouraged to engage with and examine the ways in which the beliefs and practices of Christianity form and reform the imagination, language, and ways of life of Christian believers, and to describe and judge the variety of ways in which the Christian way of life has historically contributed or failed to contribute to displaying the reign of God in the world.

The Natural Sciences (6 credits)
The liberally educated person – whether a poet, politician, or physicist – must understand that the world in which we live is largely shaped and driven by scientific experimentation and discovery. Familiarity with the vernacular of science, knowledge of some of the basic scientific principles, and confidence in the ability to fit the findings of new scientific discoveries into the ever-expanding body of scientific knowledge are valuable qualities of an informed citizen. Individuals make personal choices daily which hinge on science, such as whether or not to smoke, what food to eat, and what car to buy. As voters and U.S. citizens, individuals also need enough understanding of science to select policy makers, (typically nonscientists,) who will make good choices when faced with scientific questions that fundamentally affect the well-being of the whole society. Ultimately, then, each individual bears the responsibility for deciding what to do about, and how much money to spend on, nuclear reactors, global warming, environmental toxins, space programs, biomedical research, and applications of biotechnology. Every educated person should have enough knowledge of the scientific method and of fundamental concepts of the natural sciences to understand and make informed decisions affecting both private and public issues of health and the environment.

Philosophy (6 credits)
Philosophy plays a vital role in a liberal arts education. Studies in philosophy provide basic cultural literacy regarding the great thinkers and perennial issues in our philosophical heritage and a strong foundation in logical reasoning. As a result, philosophy makes a significant contribution to the ability of our students to recognize truth and justice in the world that surrounds them. In addition, philosophy course offerings are dedicated to achieving the Mission of King’s College in that they not only direct students toward the tools they need to make a living, but also guide them toward a better understanding of how to live. These course offerings examine issues related to living a fulfilling life, such as ethics, aesthetics, theories of knowledge, and metaphysics. The free and inquiring mind pursues questions about what ought to be believed about the human condition, about human destiny and about how to conduct a meaningful human life. The study of philosophy is essential to this pursuit.

American Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (3 Credits)
What does it mean to be an American? The answer to this question often depends on issues such as class, gender, ethnicity, era, place of origin, and socialization. The liberally-educated person should have a critical understanding of the American experience from various academic perspectives. Courses in this category provide a close look at the American nation and its people through disciplines that draw on historical, literary, and social studies. Students should then be better able to answer for themselves what it means to be an American.

Classes already taught at King's that might fit into this category include:
Core 130: American Civilization to 1914
Core 151: American Government
Core 152: Contemporary Social Issues (if the topic was appropriate)
Core 155: Women in American Society
Core 156: Aging in American Society
Core 163: American Literature

Contemporary Global Issues (3 Credits)
This category includes classes that extend students’ understanding of the complex, wide-ranging global issues in the world today. These classes, which might come from a variety of disciplines, emphasize such issues as economic systems, human rights and social justice, religious and political movements, and the impact of the technological revolution. Important goals in King's mission statement include fostering social responsibility in our students and preparing them intellectually to lead satisfying lives. In a world in which we are all global citizens, even if we never leave our home towns, being socially responsible and intellectually prepared requires knowledge and understanding of the world that extends beyond the borders of the United States.

Classes already taught at King's that would fit in this category include:

Core 132: Global History since 1914
Core 152: Contemporary Social Issues (if the topic was appropriate)
IB 241: Introduction to International Business

Classes that might be added include:

Global Gender Issues
U.S. as a Global Power
Politics and the Global Media
Contemporary Global Conflict
Global Activism