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General Education

General Education Seminars

The core curriculum requirements include three general education seminars. All students take Seminar 1 and 2 in the fall and spring of their first year, and Seminar 3 in the fall of their second year. These courses continue the development of students’ writing and thinking skills through close reading, discussions, and expository writing about classic texts that reflect Western cultural traditions and their precursors. The Seminar sequence promotes critical understanding of the values, assumptions, and ideologies represented within these major works.

Seminar I: Origins: Self and Cosmos
First-Year Seminar 100 Staff
4 credits
This course interrogates the origins of Western civilization by exploring a wide variety of primary sources from the Mesopotamian, Greco-Roman, Judeo- Christian, and Islamic cultures within the Levant, Mediterranean world, and Europe. Drawn from prehistory through the 15th century, the course materials encompass a wide variety of media, including fragmented and intact written texts; architectural structures, sculptures, paintings, and other visual representations; musical selections; and recited sacred and secular texts. Writing-intensive in nature, this course helps students discover what they themselves think about the materials and situate their views in relation to those of their classmates. The key skills for this course are developing critical reading skills, including the “reading” of non-textual materials, and expressing ideas gained from such reading in oral and written forms.
Seminar II: Knowing: Revolution and Enlightenment
First-Year Seminar 101 Staff
4 credits
This course centers on changes in the nature of knowledge and knowing, as various revolutions—the Scientific Revolution, political revolutions (American, French, and others), and the Industrial Revolution— swept the world. Initially centered in Europe, the geographic range of this course expands into the New World as the notion of Western civilization changes with the colonization of the Western Hemisphere. Drawn from the 16th century through the year 1850, course materials present the theories of the era and their manifestations in a wide range of forms, including poetry, drama, autobiography, and the novel; sacred hymns and secular opera; and paintings, photographs, and other forms of visual expression. Students also investigate critical secondary articles in conjunction with the primary sources. Building upon First-Year Seminar I, students in this writing-intensive course work to raise their skills of critical reading, thinking, writing, and discussion to greater levels of complexity and sophistication.
Seminar 3: Voices Against the Chorus
Sophomore Seminar 251 Staff
4 credits

Sophomore Seminar explores the development of some of the ideas central to our definition of the modern world. It focuses on how 19th- and 20th-century thinkers confronted the accepted order of things, how they challenged accepted ideas, and how they constructed the radically different conceptions of the world that we have inherited. Texts include Darwin’s The Descent of Man, Marx and Engels’s The Communist Manifesto, Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals, Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, Tagore’s The Home and the World, Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, and Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa. Class sessions are supplemented by lectures that provide some context to the readings, presented by faculty and by guests.

The Senior Thesis

Sophomore Seminar explores the development of some of the ideas central to our definition of the modern world. It focuses on how 19th- and 20th-century thinkers confronted the accepted order of things, how they challenged accepted ideas, and how they constructed the radically different conceptions of the world that we have inherited. Texts include Darwin’s The Descent of Man , Marx and Engels’s The Communist Manifesto , Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals , Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents , Tagore’s The Home and the World , Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk , Woolf’s To the Lighthouse , and Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa . Class sessions are supplemented by lectures that provide some context to the readings, presented by faculty and by guests.

Senior Thesis
BA Thesis 404-405 Staff
8 credits
The focus of students’ senior year is the Senior Thesis. A year-long, eight credit project, it offers seniors the opportunity to complete a significant, extended study that is the culmination of their baccalaureate work at Simon’s Rock. Drawing on the background and skills of analysis and synthesis acquired during the previous three years, students are expected to work independently on thesis projects they have defined and developed themselves. Students are required to enroll full-time at Simon’s Rock for both semesters of the senior year. The responsibility for selecting and organizing the Senior Thesis project rests largely with the student. Faculty members serve as advisors and meet regularly with the student to evaluate progress and provide guidance. Independent thinking and the process of developing a project from idea to realization are emphasized. All projects conclude with a substantial written thesis that is bound and placed in the permanent collection of the College library.