Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College
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Writing and Thinking Foundations

Your work at Simon’s Rock is grounded in a strong foundation. 

Based on the signature liberal arts seminar sequence at Bard College, and taught by faculty working in all disciplines, the Writing and Thinking Workshop and the three-part Seminar sequence are where Rockers become Rockers, and where you’ll become part of a dynamic intellectual community.

The Writing and Thinking Workshop

Female student in writing workshop

Conceived by Simon’s Rock (and Bard) President Leon Botstein, the Workshop sets the stage for the kind of intense interdisciplinary work you’ll tackle during your time at Simon’s Rock. You’ll experience what it means to participate in an intimate intellectual community; you’ll learn to take initiative; you’ll begin to speak up and think differently while listening to alternative ideas; you’ll present personal work for feedback; and you’ll provide thoughtful criticism on others’ work. The Workshop week—a five-day, all-day, intensive seminar held before the start of your first semester at Simon’s Rock—is a common experience for all new Rockers. This is where you’ll gain the foundational skills in critical reading and writing you’ll need for advanced study in any discipline.

By the end of the workshop, you’ll have all the important tools you'll need to face the academic challenges that await you. 

The most important thing about Simon’s Rock has been the ability to think critically. ...they say that in the admission packets...and it didn’t really mean much until coming here. Then my thinking changed. My view of the world changed.

-Sheeba '08

Seminar 1 & 2

Writing workshop class engaged in curriculum work

All first-year students participate in Seminar 1 & 2, a two-semester, writing-intensive class that explores Western cultural traditions. In the fall, you’ll interrogate the origins of Western civilization through close study of diverse materials—texts, music, art, and artifacts. In the spring, the nature of knowledge itself will be your subject, or, more specifically, the intellectual revolutions that have changed thinking as they have swept the world. 

Most importantly, you will hone your abilities to read, think, and write critically, and you and your peers will learn how to engage in meaningful intellectual discussion together. You and your peers will leave the Workshop week ready to dive into big ideas together, and you will—right into the deep end.

It is not just about knowledge and learning to absorb information and then regurgitate on a test, but actually being able to use one's brain in any situation, academic or otherwise. This skill is indispensable in any time or place.

-Sarah '08 

Seminar 3


Male student speaking in a literature classIn your sophomore year, Seminar 3 continues the inquiry and builds on the contexts and skills established in Seminar 1 & 2. You’ll study 19th- and 20th-century thinkers whose ideas signaled a radical shift from accepted social norms and helped define the Modern world.

Works include Marx and Engel’s The Communist Manifesto, Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals, Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Brecht and Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, Ellington’s Black and Tan Fantasy, Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk and Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil, Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, Duras and Renais’s Hiroshima Mon Amour, Fanon’s The Wretchedof the Earth, Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman, and paintings by Gauguin, Rivera, Picasso, Pollack, and Rothko. 

You’ll gain a strong knowledge of innovations in modern thought, but you’ll also develop your own critical perspective of the world and the ability to articulate it well.