Subscribe to News
Document Actions

 

Voices Against the Chorus: Sophomore Seminar

What should every educated person know? Bard College at Simon’s Rock has several curricular components that present strategies to answer this very question. Developed at different points in the College’s evolution—from the RAP credit, which was present since the College’s beginning, to the Writing and Thinking Workshop, First-Year and Sophomore Seminars, and the Moderation Process, all of which are rooted in Bard’s curriculum—these foundations are constructed to develop skills that support a lifelong pursuit of knowledge. A student of any discipline must possess the ability to think critically, read closely, write articulately, move confidently, collaborate freely, and listen intently. It is Simon's Rock's aim to nurture students as they acquire fluency in each of these areas of engagement.

Voices Against the Chorus: Sophomore Seminar

If the goal of the First-Year Seminar is to provide students with context, allowing them to position their own thoughts and writings in relationship to the philosophers and authors who preceded them, then the Sophomore Seminar continues to examine the question of situation by looking at the development of modern theory. The word "theory"—meaning an explanation or system of anything; an exposition of the abstract principles of a science or art; or an idea or explanation that has yet to be proved—comes from the Greek theoria, meaning "view." Just as pioneering adventurers stood at the summit of new peaks for the first time, seeing the landscape below in a completely new way, so did these revolutionary thinkers attain new vantage points from which they could comment on the social organization they witnessed around them.

In this course, required for all sophomores in their first semester, students read the works of Darwin, Nietzsche, Tagore, DuBois, Woolf, Kafka, Marx, and other nineteenth and twentieth- century thinkers whose perspectives shifted radically from prescribed social norms. The concepts they fought to articulate are the products of great labor and care, examples of the dedication to clear writing and thinking required of any educated person. With readings supplemented by lectures and writing assignments, students continue to hone the skills gathered in the course of the first year, and the Sophomore Seminar helps provide not only a knowledge in innovations of modern thought, but also encourages students to consider their own theoria, the view they have on the world. Like Writing and Thinking Workshop and First-Year Seminar, faculty of nearly all disciplines teach the Sophomore Seminar themselves—evidence of the value of this kind of knowledge for all students, not just those focusing in literature, philosophy, or history.