The Core Curriculum at St. Mary’s College of Maryland represents a commitment to providing students with a broad grounding in the liberal arts. The curriculum was designed to stimulate a spirit of inquiry about a range of intellectual issues and develop students’ ability to think creatively and critically, with reason and imagination. Because students must develop the intellectual and ethical resources to flourish in our complex world, the Core Curriculum engages students in different modes of knowledge and learning.
Through the Core Curriculum, our students develop the abilities to speak and write with clarity and precision; construct sound arguments; apply theoretical concepts and integrate knowledge; and use information and technology resources effectively and ethically. Students develop these abilities across all disciplines, in activities ranging from creative production in the fine arts to the use of scientific methods in the sciences. Our vision of learning at St. Mary’s College includes, welcomes and depends upon many voices and viewpoints. The Core Curriculum begins the process through which faculty and students participate in ongoing conversations about value, meaning, understanding and action. A student’s intellectual growth will therefore entail a deepening moral awareness. The Core Curriculum lays the foundation that will enable St. Mary’s College students to develop a sense of social and civic responsibility and be prepared to participate ethically and intelligently as informed citizens of the communities in which they work and live.
The Core Curriculum will provide opportunities for students to:
- Engage in and articulate the value of creative and intellectual exploration
- Use multiple modes of inquiry, resources and knowledge from multiple disciplines to ask questions, identify issues and solve complex problems, both within and across disciplinary boundaries
- Develop openness to diversity in all its forms and demonstrate social responsibility and civic mindedness
- Learn about the “global community” and environmental stewardship
- Hone the fundamental liberal arts skills of critical thinking, information literacy, written expression and oral expression across a variety of disciplinary boundaries
The fundamental liberal arts skills (critical thinking, information literacy, written expression and oral expression) are the cornerstones of a traditional liberal arts education and are essential to an integrative curriculum. All students in all majors employ them throughout their academic careers. Making sure that all students achieve proficiency in these four skills will lead to the excellence in education that our mission statement calls for. A liberal arts education is a comprehensive education designed to cultivate autonomous and well-rounded members of the world community by developing the fundamental skills enabling the full exercise and expression of one’s person. As such, these fundamental skills do not mark mere technique, but represent some of the core capacities shaping human intelligence.
Critical thinking describes the capacity to recognize and appreciate the context of a line of thought (for example, a rhetorical argument, a mathematical proof, or a musical composition) and the capacity to evaluate its consistency, coherence, importance and originality, and the capacity to create an independent line of thought. Information literacy describes the capacity to identify the need for information and to locate, analyze, evaluate and effectively use all forms of information (for example, written, oral, visual or quantitative). Written expression and oral expression describe the capacities to clearly articulate a coherent, creative and compelling line of thought in writing and speech, with attention to the power of both language and images.
Although each skill maintains its identity as the definitions above signify, these skills inextricably inform one another. These skills will be introduced and practiced in the Core Curriculum, but as students matriculate beyond the Core Curriculum the outcomes for these skills will expand, multiply and diverge. In other words, the idea of “all four skills in all four years” will form an integral part of the academic culture at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Students will begin to understand this culture before they arrive on campus, become immersed in it during their time on campus, and further develop these skills after they leave the campus. Assessment of these skills will take place in a variety of ways in the Core, in the majors and in the senior capstone experiences.
Core Curriculum Requirements
To fulfill the goals of the Core Curriculum, stated at the beginning of this section, all students must achieve competence in four “fundamental liberal arts skills” by the time they graduate. These skills, including critical thinking, information literacy, written expression, and oral expression, will be introduced in the Liberal Arts Seminars, practiced and honed in increasingly sophisticated ways throughout the Core Curriculum and the majors, and then assessed within the major prior to graduation.
Additionally, students are required to successfully complete designated courses in each of the following categories: I) Introduction to the Liberal Arts – Liberal Arts Seminars; II) International Languages; III) Liberal Arts Approaches to Understanding the World; and IV) Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World. Students transferring with an AA or AS degree from a Maryland community college have fulfilled the Core Curriculum requirements with the exception of CORE 301 (Inquiry in the Liberal Arts) and CORE 350 (Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World).
Introduction to the Liberal Arts – Liberal Arts Seminars
The Liberal Arts Seminars, an integral part of the Core Curriculum, introduce students to the campus community, liberal arts culture and the excitement of intellectual inquiry. The Seminars are overseen by the director of matriculation and academic planning and taught by faculty from every department.
By completing this requirement, students will be able to:
- Apply, analyze, synthesize and evaluate specific course content and disciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches to learning on which the seminar is based
- Use a variety of critical thinking methods in interacting with a topic, question, or group of texts
- Use information literacy to complete course assignments and activities, identify the need for diverse kinds of information, access information effectively and efficiently, evaluate sources critically, and incorporate new material into their existing knowledge base
- Write with an acceptable level of proficiency in organizing ideas, developing a thesis, and revising and editing text, both informal and formal, in a variety of genres for audiences of both peers and professors
- Use effective oral expression strategies and model civility of discourse when engaging in small group activities, participating in large group discussions, and making formal presentations
- Reflectively participate in academic discourse as an active member of the College community
Students who need additional support in making the transition to college-level writing are also required to take English 101, Introduction to Writing, in their first semester concurrently with a First Year Seminar. Entering students who score below 600 on the Writing Section of the SATs or below a 27 on the Writing Section of the ACTs must take a Writing Placement Examination, an online timed writing assignment, during the summer. This exam, administered by the Writing and Speaking Center and scored holistically by trained readers, is used to determine which students will take English 101 in their first semester on campus.
To satisfy the requirement for the Liberal Arts Seminar, students must take either CORE 101 or CORE 301. Students must earn a grade of C- or higher in order to satisfy the Liberal Arts Seminar requirement. The First Year Seminar may not be used to satisfy any other Core Curriculum requirements, nor can the First Year Seminar be used to satisfy any requirements within a major or minor. Incoming first year students and students who transfer in with 24 or fewer credits will take CORE 101 in their first fall semester on campus. Students who transfer in with more than 24 credits (excluding credits earned through AP and IB) will take CORE 301 in their first semester on campus. Students may not drop or withdraw from CORE 101 or CORE 301 without consulting first with the director of matriculation and academic planning.
CORE 101: The First Year Seminar (4F)
The First Year Seminar serves as the gateway course to the honors college. The Seminars will encourage students to engage deeply with an intellectual topic through exercising the four fundamental liberal arts skills (critical thinking, information literacy, written expression and oral expression). The Seminars are not meant to be introductions to disciplines, nor are they merely orientations to the campus or clinics on study skills. Rather, they focus on a question, an issue, or a group of texts, on which students will write, speak, research and think critically. Multiple sections of this course will focus on a wide variety of topics.
CORE 301: Inquiry in the Liberal Arts (4E)This course, designed for students transferring to St. Mary’s College of Maryland with more than 24 credits, will focus on the four fundamental liberal arts skills (critical thinking, information literacy, written expression and oral expression) and emphasize their importance for a broad grounding in the liberal arts. The Seminars are not meant to be introductions to disciplines. Rather, they focus on a question, an issue, or a group of texts, on which students will write, speak, research and think critically. Multiple sections of this course will focus on a wide variety of topics.
CORE 401: Peer Mentoring Practicum (3F)
Advanced undergraduate students may apply to be peer mentors to the First Year Seminars (CORE 101). In addition to attending the seminar section to which they are assigned, peer mentors will attend regular practicum meetings designed to address issues related to mentoring, ethics in teaching, and teaching and learning theories, as well as issues related to facilitating discussion and helping students develop and hone the four fundamental liberal arts skills. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students must apply to the director of matriculation and academic planning to be considered for the Peer Mentor program. Credit/no credit grading. May not be repeated for credit.
CORE 402: Advanced Peer Mentoring (3E)
Advanced undergraduate students may apply to be peer mentors for CORE 301 (Inquiry in the Liberal Arts), a course designed for students transferring to St. Mary’s College of Maryland as a sophomore, junior or senior. Credit/no credit grading. May not be repeated for credit. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students may apply to the director of matriculation and academic planning to be considered for the Advanced Peer Mentoring program.
Students will take one 3- or 4-credit international language course to satisfy this requirement (see “Determining course level” below). The course must have an ILC or LNG designation, such as courses listed in the St. Mary’s College of Maryland course catalog (e.g., ILCC [Chinese], ILCF [French], ILCG [German] and ILCS [Spanish]). Courses not listed in the St. Mary’s College of Maryland course catalog but that receive a 3- or 4-credit LNG designation on a student’s transcript (e.g., courses in Italian, Latin, Thai, among others) may also satisfy the International Languages Core requirement.
By completing this requirement, students will be able to:
- Identify key topics, questions and issues central to the specific language and culture being studied, and understand other cultures from their own internal perspectives
- Apply the investigative strategies of these disciplines to collect, organize, and analyze information, to solve problems, and to reflect on issues of cultural and societal importance
- Articulate the strengths and limitations of these methodologies in dealing with problems and issues, and describe their value in dealing with cross-disciplinary topics and concerns
- Write and speak at the level of the language course taken, and use appropriate tools of information literacy in ethical ways to inform their engagement with these areas of study
Determining course level:
Though students may always opt to fulfill the requirement by starting a new language at the 101 level, other levels of placement (course numbers 102, 110, 201, 202, 206) will be determined by one’s score on the web-based Foreign Language Proficiency Test (FLPT). In other words, the course the student places into is the one course the student must take to satisfy the requirement, unless the student begins a new language at the 101-level. Students who wish to take a different course level to satisfy the requirement (for example, a student who places into ILCS 201 but prefers to take ILCS 110) must get approval from the chair of the International Languages and Cultures Department to be placed into the course.
Other ways to meet this requirement:
- By providing proof of course work in any foreign language at the college level (including languages not currently taught at St. Mary’s College of Maryland); or
- By petitioning the chair of the International Languages and Cultures Department for an exemption, such as by demonstrating native or near-native knowledge of a language other than English (that is, international students or anyone else with significant linguistic and cultural background from outside the United States); or
- By submitting evidence of a score of a 4 of 5 in an AP foreign language exam or a minimum score of 5 in an IB/HL exam in a foreign language. Students who have already satisfied the international languages requirement, as detailed above, are still strongly encouraged to continue to develop their proficiency through additional college level work and are encouraged to take the Foreign Language Proficiency Test (FLPT) to determine level of placement.
Liberal Arts Approaches to Understanding the World
Students must take one course from each of the following six areas: 1) Arts, 2) Cultural Perspectives, 3) Humanistic Foundations, 4) Mathematics, 5) Natural Sciences with Laboratory and 6) Social Sciences. The purpose of this requirement is to introduce students to academic disciplines central to the liberal arts (including the particular approaches and assumptions of these disciplines), as well as to reinforce breadth and diversity of experience. Each area of study has its own goals, which are described in further detail below.
By the end of their experiences in courses that fulfill the “Liberal Arts Approaches to Understanding the World” category of the Core Curriculum, students will, at a level appropriate for an introductory course, be able to:
- Select an area of study for further pursuit based on knowledge of the basic assumptions, methodologies, and ways of interacting with information in various disciplines or interdisciplinary areas of study;
- Identify key topics, questions, or issues central to various disciplines;
- Apply investigative strategies of various disciplines or interdisciplinary fields to collect, organize, and analyze information, to solve problems, and to reflect on issues of personal and societal significance;
- Distinguish among the various methodological approaches used in the study of the liberal arts and articulate the strengths and limitations of various methodologies for dealing with problems and issues within particular disciplines as well as with cross-disciplinary topics and concerns; and
- Write and speak using the language and stylistic conventions of various disciplines, while using appropriate tools of information literacy in ethical ways to support varied scholarly projects.
A student will take one lower level (e.g., 100- or 200-level) course from each of the following six areas: 1) Arts, 2) Cultural Perspectives, 3) Humanistic Foundations, 4) Mathematics, 5) Natural Sciences with Laboratory and 6) Social Sciences. The six courses must be from six different disciplines. In other words, only one course with any given prefix—such as ANTH, MUSC, POSC or TFMS—may be counted among a student’s six Liberal Arts Approaches to Understanding the World courses.
- Arts: The arts include courses whose primary focus is the study and/or practice of artistic creation in literature, the visual arts, music, dance, theater and film. Courses in the arts examine how art forms express ideas and experiences. Some of these courses focus on the history of art forms, the contexts of their production and reception, and the theories used to interpret them. Other arts courses focus on students making, writing, or performing artistic creations. By studying the arts, students learn to attend carefully to the structure and details of creative works, to understand these works in their social and historical contexts, and to express their creative and critical intentions clearly and effectively. The following courses satisfy the Arts requirement:
- ART 105: Introduction to Visual Thinking
- ART 204: Introduction to Drawing
- ART 206: Introduction to Painting
- ART 208: Introduction to Sculpture
- ART 212: Introduction to Photography
- ART 214: Introduction to Digital Art
- ART 233: Topics in Studio Art
- ARTH 220: Rock, Paper, Sword: The Media of the Ancient and Medieval World
- ARTH 250: Topics in Western Art History
- ENGL 106: Introduction to Literature
- ENGL 130: Literary Topics
- ENGL 270: Creative Writing
- ENGL 281: Literature in History I
- ENGL 282: Literature in History II
- ENGL 283: Literature in History III
- HIST 264: Introduction to Museum Studies
- MUSC 112: Music as Communication
- MUSC 203: Music Theory I (3)
- MUSC 205: Music in History
- MUSC 217: The Jazz Makers
- MUST 200: Introduction to Museum Studies
- TFMS 106: Introduction to Dramatic Literature
- TFMS 130: Introduction to Performance
- TFMS 170: Stagecraft
- TFMS 171. Elements of Theatrical Design
- TFMS 200: Theater in History
- TFMS 220: Introduction to Film and Media Studies
- TFMS 221: Film and Media Production Modes
- TFMS 225: Topics in Film and Media
- TFMS 228: Media Production I
- TFMS 230: Acting I
- TFMS 234: Acting for the Camera
- TFMS 250: Movement I
- TFMS 255: Modern Dance I
- TFMS 258: Dance in History
- TFMS 260: Topics in Dance/Movement
- TFMS 275: Costumes and Clothes in History
- TFMS 280: Topics in Production
Four 1-credit MUSA courses at the lower division level may also satisfy the arts requirement in the following ways: 1) Students taking lessons (at the 200 level) may accumulate credits only on one instrument (or voice) across four semesters. 2) Students may participate in an ensemble (at the 100 level) across four semesters. 3) Credits may also accumulate through a combination of lessons (in only one instrument or voice) plus any mixture of ensembles for a total of four credits.
Lessons that can be used to fulfill this requirement:
- Guitar: MUSA 280
- Piano MUSA 281
- Brass: MUSA 284
- Strings: MUSA 285
- Voice: MUSA 286
- Percussion: MUSA 287
- Woodwinds: MUSA 288
Ensembles that can be used to fulfill this requirement:
- Choir: MUSA 180
- Chamber Singers: MUSA 182
- Jazz Ensemble: MUSA 186
- Chamber Ensemble: MUSA 187
- Orchestra: MUSA 189
- Cultural Perspectives: Courses in this category are designed to help students better recognize the ways their own culture shapes their thinking and the ways in which culture more generally shapes an individual’s world view. Courses include those in which the primary object of study is cultures and languages using the methodologies of diverse disciplines as well as interdisciplinary methodologies. Courses might examine theories of race and ethnicity, explore the experiences of people and societies in various cultures, or investigate diverse issues related to both globalization and the variability of experiences within particular cultures.
The following courses satisfy the Cultural Perspectives requirement:
- AADS 214: Africa and the African Diaspora
- ANTH 150: Gambian Languages and Cultures
- ANTH 230: Cultural Anthropology
- ANTH 250: Language and Culture
- ARTH 224: Ancient American Art and Architecture
- ARTH 255: Topics in Global Art History
- ASIA 200: Introduction to Asian Studies
- ENGL 235: Topics in Literature and Culture
- HIST 253: Latin American Civilization
- HIST 268: Russian Civilization
- HIST 280: Africa and the African Diaspora
- ILAS 200: Democracy in Latin America
- ILAS 206: Introduction to Latin American Literature in Translation
- ILC/LNG102, 201, 202, 205, or 206 courses, if they are not used to fulfill the language requirement
- MUSC 216: Introduction to the World’s Music
- POSC 252: Comparative Politics
- POSC 269: International Politics
- RELG 221: Islamic Civilization
- RELG 231: Religions and Cultures of India
- TFMS 210: Japanese Performance Traditions
- TFMS 251: Introduction to Traditional African Dance
- Humanistic Foundations: Courses in this category take as their primary objects of study the constitutive events, ideas, beliefs, and practices that have shaped, and continue to shape, the human condition. Methodologically, they focus on the analytical investigation of human experience in general; of the experience of particular individuals; and of the links between the particular and the general—thus recognizing both the individual and also the way in which every individual’s experience is shaped by larger systems and paradigms. Courses may address the fundamental question of what it means to be human in the world, thereby providing students with the analytic tools to critically reflect on their place on earth. In the process, students will also become familiar with the key topics, questions, issues, and methodologies central to the disciplines of philosophy, history, religious studies, and women, gender and sexuality studies. The following courses satisfy the Humanistic Foundations requirement:
- ARTH 100: Introduction to Art History
- HIST 104: Historical Foundations of the Modern World to 1450
- HIST 105: Western Civilization
- HIST 108: History of the Modern World
- HIST 200: United States History, 1776-1980
- HIST 206: East Asian Civilization
- HIST 219: Colonial American Survey
- HIST 272: Ancient Mediterranean
- HIST 274: Europe, 1815-1914
- HIST 276: Twentieth Century World
- PHIL 101: Introduction to Philosophy
- PHIL 120: Introduction to Ethics
- RELG 110: Introduction to World Religions
- RELG 210: Biblical Foundations
- RELG 211: Speaking of God: Introduction to Theology
- RELG 220: Introduction to Islam
- RELG 230: Introduction to Hinduism
- WGSX 220: Introduction to Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
- Mathematics: Mathematics is a discipline that studies quantitative aspects of the world. The courses within this section introduce the student to basic mathematical skills and concepts, sometimes through the elements of computer programming. Students are expected to learn methods and techniques of problem solving and to develop facility in the mathematical mode of thinking. They are expected to become acquainted with the major areas of current interest in mathematics, with the primary achievements of the past, and with the fundamental problems of number, space and infinity. The following courses satisfy the Mathematics requirement:
- COSC 120: Introduction to Computer Science
- MATH 131: Survey of Mathematics
- MATH 151: Calculus I
- MATH 152: Calculus II
- MATH 200: Discrete Mathematics
- MATH 255: Vector Calculus
- MATH 256: Linear Algebra
- MATH 281: Foundations of Mathematics
- Natural Sciences with Laboratory: The natural sciences are academic disciplines that study the natural world, including biological, chemical and physical structures and phenomena. Courses in the natural sciences present major scientific concepts and theories and teach students to apply investigative methodologies to explore scientific questions. Students will learn to analyze scientific literature and to write and speak using the languages of these disciplines. All courses in this area include the required laboratory component. The following courses satisfy the Natural Sciences with Laboratory requirement:
- ASTR 154: Solar System Astronomy
- ASTR 155: Stellar Astronomy and Cosmology
- BIOL 101: Contemporary Bioscience with Laboratory
- BIOL 105 and BIOL105L: Principles of Biology I and Laboratory
- CHEM 101. Contemporary Chemistry with Laboratory
- CHEM 106: General Chemistry II
- GEOL 130: Introduction to Geology
- PHYS 104: Basic Physics with Laboratory
- PHYS 121: College Physics I
- PHYS 141: General Physics I
- PHYS 142: General Physics II
- PHYS 151: Fundamentals of Physics I
- PHYS 152: Fundamentals of Physics II
- PHYS 251: Fundamentals of Physics III
- Social Sciences: The social sciences are a group of academic disciplines that study human aspects of the world. The courses within the social sciences take human behavior—individual, in groups, or in societies—as its object of study. They emphasize the use of scientific methodologies in the study of humanity, including quantitative tools and narrative approaches. The goal of the social sciences is to make students aware of the forces that have shaped and are shaping the modern world in order to enable them to think critically about the global society in which they live and to write and speak effectively about that society. Students who study the social sciences will have a wide-ranging appreciation of the functioning of a broad spectrum of social systems and will appreciate how the methods of social science can help interpret human behavior. The following courses satisfy the Social Sciences requirement:
- ANTH 101: Introduction to Anthropology
- ECON 102: Principles of Microeconomics
- ECON 103: Principles of Macroeconomics
- POSC 100: Introduction to Politics
- PSYC 101: Introduction to Psychology
- SOCI 101: Introduction to Sociology
Courses may be added to or removed from the six categories in the Liberal Arts Approaches to Understanding the World pending approval by the Curriculum Review Committee.
Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World
In this element of the Core Curriculum, students will bridge the gap between their academy and the world beyond, transcending the theory-praxis divide and giving extra meaning to their academic courses by applying their developing knowledge base to life experiences outside the boundaries of the college campus. By completing this requirement, students will be able to:
- Practice the dynamic interaction of doing and reflecting;
- Discuss the value of being a participant/observer while maintaining a fluid balance between active participation and astute observation with appropriate attention to details; and
- Synthesize their experiences through critical reflection and evaluation of the experience.
This requirement can be satisfied in several ways. However, each option requires that students complete the form to register for CORE 350 by the end of the Add/Drop period in the semester the student plans to fulfill the requirement, and complete a reflective paper by the last day of classes in the semester the student fulfills the requirement. The reflective paper is described more fully under CORE 350 (see below). Both the registration form and the reflective essay must be turned in at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are four general options for satisfying the Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World requirement:
- Study Abroad: Students may satisfy the Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World requirement by participating in at least four credit hours of study-abroad coursework. Study-tour courses and semester or longer study-abroad programs count towards this requirement.
- Internship: Students may satisfy the Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World requirement by participating in a credit-bearing internship of at least four credits (contact the Career Development Center for more information). Students who wish to use a non-credit internship to satisfy this requirement must submit a petition to the Academic Policy Committee for approval prior to beginning the internship.
- Independent Study or Directed Research with a Community Focus: Students may satisfy the Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World requirement under faculty direction with on and off-campus experiences in the world of work or community service not typically associated with an internship placement. Students opting to satisfy the Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World requirement through this option must submit a proposal for at least four credit hours of independent study or directed research at the 300 or 400 level to the Academic Policy Committee for approval prior to beginning the experience.
- Experiential or Service Learning Course: Students may satisfy the Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World requirement by taking a course that has a significant experiential or service learning component. Students may select from the following courses to satisfy this 4-credit requirement:
- ART 269: Community Arts
- ART 369: Art for Educators and Community Activists
- ANTH 410: Historical Archaeology Field School
- ANTH 454: Archaeological Survey
- BIOL 316: Tropical Biology
- EDUC 336: Exceptionality: An Introduction to Special Education
- EDUC 206: The Child in America
- EDUC 210 & 211: Reflective Leadership in Human Services Part I and II
- EDUC 286: Language Acquisition and Reading Development for Secondary and K-12 Teachers
- EDUC 296: Language Acquisition and Phonemic Awareness
- EDUC368: Educational Psychology
- ENGL 391: The Word in the World
- HIST 430: Maryland Research Seminar
- POSC 312: State and Community Politics
- POSC348: Parties and Elections
- PSYC 410: Service Learning in Psychology
- TFMS281: London Study Tour
- TFMS 392: The Teaching of Theater in the Schools
- TFMS 460: Creative Movement and Dance in Education
Courses may be added to or removed from this category pending approval by the Curriculum Review Committee.
CORE 350: Reflection on Experiencing the World (0E)
In order to complete the Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World requirement, students must participate in an approved activity as described above (e.g., study abroad, internship, experiential coursework) and submit a reflective paper based on their experience. This course is a co-requisite for any experience that a student uses to satisfy this requirement of the Core Curriculum. Students will receive a grade of “Pass with Distinction,” “Pass,” or “Fail.” Students who receive a grade of “Fail” will be invited to revise and resubmit their reflective paper.