The General Distribution Requirements currently understood to be the “default” standard applicable to students enrolled in the Classes of 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 are as follows:
Language and Literature: one course in English (English 101) and one course in a foreign language at the 300 level
The required course in English prepares students to become critical readers of significant literary works, to apply a variety of interpretive approaches, and to learn effective techniques for writing clear, correct, and persuasive English prose. The culminating 300-level course in a foreign language, either ancient or modern, is required so that all students may develop some insight into the way language itself works — which can often be seen best in a language not one’s own – and acquire some understanding of the literature and culture of another people. At the 300 level (the fourth semester, as languages are numbered here), a student should be able to read literary or cultural texts in the target language and, in the case of a modern foreign language, be capable of demonstrating facility in speaking the language in question.
Students who begin foreign-language study below the 300 level must complete each semester course in sequence before attempting a 300-level course (e.g., a student beginning in 104 must also pass 203 before taking a 300-level course). Exceptionally, however, a student could jump a level in the sequence via approval from the department in question, which must notify the Associate Dean of the College.
Mathematics, Computer Science, and the Natural Sciences: one course in mathematics (or designated course in computer science) and two courses in the natural sciences.
Mathematics is essential to all systematic inquiry in the natural and social sciences and is a study that can return great intellectual and aesthetic satisfaction. The study of computer science likewise offers both practical benefits and ways of envisioning multiple models of reality. Students at Sewanee pursue mathematics and the natural sciences to gain an understanding of the methods involved in scientific work and an enhanced appreciation of the natural world. At least one of the two science courses must have a full laboratory. Labs meet for approximately the same number of hours as the lecture classes meet each week.
History and the Social Sciences: one course in history (History 100) and one course in the social sciences
Studying important historical themes is essential to a liberal arts education. The required history course introduces students to significant developments since classical antiquity. While it focuses primarily on the western tradition, attention is given to others. The course also introduces students to methods of approaching historical study. A course in anthropology, economics, or politics enables students to approach social issues and problems with specific tools and techniques. Their work may also examine ways in which modern social problems can be alleviated.
Philosophy and Religion: one course in philosophy or religion
Philosophy and religion are interrelated disciplines that examine the fundamental bases of human experience — the ways human beings think, form values, and conceive of human life and the cosmos. Introductory courses in philosophy and religion examine key ideas and texts from the Judeo-Christian and other traditions. One course at the introductory level in either discipline is required of all students to help them become more critical, more reflective, and more aware of transcendent values. This requirement also provides another perspective on moral and ethical problems discussed in complementary disciplines like English and history.
Art and Performing Arts: one course in the art, art history, music, or theatre
The aesthetic disciplines offer different options for expression. Students are required to take one course focusing on artistic activities that draw on intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual resources. The course provides a framework for understanding how techniques relate to the history and theory of the medium.
one course designated as writing-intensive and a second (or its college-approved departmental or program equivalent) in a major
The ability to write clearly and effectively, like the ability to speak well, is a skill that comes through long practice with expert guidance. Effective with the class of 2014, each student must take at least one writing-intensive course during the freshman or sophomore year under the General Distribution rubric and must take another writing-intensive course (or its approved departmental or program equivalent) that is offered in the student’s major as part of the major requirement. [Students in the class of 2013 and earlier must take at least one writing-intensive course during the freshman year, and complete a total of two writing-intensive courses before the beginning of the student’s last two semesters.]
Such courses aim to sharpen the student’s skills through frequent writing assignments. They may include conferences with the instructor and should include assignments to revise written work and some time spent in classroom, group-engaged attention to the writing process. The second writing-intensive course or its college-approved equivalent (in the major) should also expose students to conventions of writing and research expected in a given discipline. Sewanee graduates are thus trained to express themselves with clarity and precision.
Physical Education: two courses (not counted among the 32 full academic courses required for graduation) One of these must be completed by the end of the freshman year and the second by the end of the sophomore year.
As the Greeks and Romans understood, healthy bodies and minds are closely connected and need to be cultivated together. Students are required to take two courses offered by the physical education staff in order to learn about the proper care of the body, the value of regular exercise, or to obtain an appreciation of individual and team sports.
Interdisciplinary Humanities Program: The Interdisciplinary Humanities Program is a sequence of four chronologically arranged courses, ordinarily intended for freshmen and sophomores, that introduces the cultural history of the western world. The team-taught program includes lectures for all students and smaller discussion sections. It focuses on major phenomena in western arts, literature, history, philosophy, and religion. Students who complete the entire humanities sequence receive credit for four college course requirements (philosophy/religion, fine arts, History 100, and English 101). These credits also satisfy 100-level prerequisites for upper-level courses in English, history, philosophy, religion, and music, and upper-level courses in art history requiring Art History 103. A student who receives credit for the full humanities sequence does not receive credit for English 101 or History 100. Those who complete only part of the humanities sequence receive one elective credit for each course completed, and they must fulfill all college requirements in the usual way. For more information, see the Humanities section of the catalog.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION REQUIREMENTS — For all Students in the Class of 2017 and Subsequent Years
Students in the classes of 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 are presumed to meet the General Distribution Requirements in the Catalog at the time each matriculated; individual students in these four classes may, however, opt to meet the following requirements by filing the appropriate form with the Registrar’s Office.
The overarching goals of Sewanee’s General Education Program and the broader curriculum are congruent with the University’s mission of encouraging students to grow in character as well as intellect. Sewanee trains students to be citizens prepared for a lifetime of leadership and compassionate service and provides opportunities in their classes and on this campus to take responsibility for their own lives and the lives of peers. Students are challenged to cooperate and collaborate, to engage in civil dialogue, and to analyze complex problems and produce creative solutions. The thoughtful engagement of students in coursework and other learning endeavors, on campus and beyond, builds the foundation for their active citizenship and for lives of personal fulfillment involving commitment to service, achievement, and a reverent concern for the world.
Sewanee's General Education Curriculum encourages intellectual curiosity and exposure to significant traditions and ways of seeing the world that our disciplines and interdisciplinary programs present. The six fundamental learning objectives along with objectives 7a and 8 are typically accomplished in the first two years; objective 7b is ordinarily met during the last two years.
Mentoring of students by faculty, which includes close discussion of available courses and programs, offers solid footing for the student’s choice of major and the longer-term rewards of lifelong learning.
Learning Objective 1. Reading Closely: Literary Analysis and Interpretation.
The ability to read closely provides a foundation for informed and reflective critical analysis that is fundamental to lifelong learning and literary experiences of lasting value. Instruction in reading closely equips students to pay careful attention to the constitutive details and stylistic concerns of significant works of literature so as to arrive at a meaning that can be defended with confidence. In addition to promoting responsible ways of taking a literary work of consequence on its own terms, courses satisfying this requirement enable students to become proficient at identifying, interpreting, and analyzing new ideas, perennial topics, universal themes, and vivid descriptions of sensory and internal experiences.
Learning Objective 2. Understanding the Arts: Creativity, Performance, and Interpretation.
The need to create, experience, and comprehend art is a defining human activity. Learning in the arts fosters aesthetic development, self-discipline, imaginative insights, and the ability to make connections between seemingly disparate ideas and issues. Many courses provide insight into the discipline, craft, and creative processes that go into making a work of art, while others focus on analyzing and interpreting the products of that artistic creativity. Developing the ability to think in intuitive, non-verbal, aural, or visual realms enhances creativity, and provides students a way to address problems that do not have conventional solutions.
Learning Objective 3. Seeking Meaning: Wisdom, Truth, and Inquiry.
The quest to answer fundamental questions of human existence has always been central to living the examined life. Through this learning objective, students examine how people in diverse times and places have addressed basic human questions about the meaning of life, the source of moral value, the nature of reality and possibility of transcendence, and to what or whom persons owe their ultimate allegiance. Courses that explore texts and traditions dedicated to philosophic questions and ethical inquiry, or that examine religious belief and practice as a pervasive expression of human culture, encourage students to develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.
Learning Objective 4. Exploring Past and Present: Perspectives on Societies and Cultures.
Curiosity about society and its institutions is central to the engaged life. In addition, informed citizens should have an understanding of individual and collective behavior in the past and present. To address the challenges facing the world today, citizens must understand how these challenges arise and the roles that individuals, communities, countries, and international organizations play in addressing them. Learning how to pose appropriate questions, how to read and interpret historical documents, and how to use methods of analysis to study social interaction prepares students to comprehend the dynamics within and among societies. These skills enable students to examine the world around them and to make historically, theoretically, and empirically informed judgments about social phenomena.
Learning Objective 5. Observing, Experimenting, and Modeling: The Scientific and Quantitative View.
Three courses. One must include substantial quantitative, algorithmic, or abstract logical reasoning. One must be a science course with a substantial experiential or experimental component.
The study of the natural world through careful observation, construction and testing of hypotheses, and the design and implementation of reproducible experiments is a key aspect of human experience. Scientific literacy and the ability to assess the validity of scientific claims are critical components of an educated and informed life. Scientific and quantitative courses develop students’ ability to use close observation and interpret empirical data to better understand processes in the natural world. As they create models to explain observable phenomena, students develop their abilities to reason both deductively and inductively.
Learning Objective 6. Comprehending Cross-Culturally: Language and Global Studies.
One 300 level or higher foreign language course OR foreign language through the 200 (third semester) level together with one course in a related culture.
The cross-cultural comprehension requirement at Sewanee helps to prepare students for full citizenship in our global society. Upon completion of this requirement, students will have developed a range of communicative strategies in a foreign language, recognition of another cultural perspective, and the capacity for informed engagement with another culture. These skills lead students to understand a variety of texts: oral, visual, and written. Students practice writing, public speaking, conversing, critical thinking, and textual analysis. Success in a foreign language gives students knowledge that they can apply broadly to academic and non-academic settings. The study of at least a second language is and always has been a hallmark of liberal arts education, providing not just access to the thought and expression of a foreign mentality and culture, but also a useful way to reflect on one’s own mentality, language, and culture.
Objective 7. Students will complete at least two Writing-Intensive courses, one by the end of sophomore year and one in the major.
a. Foundational Writing-Intensive Course.
Typically taken during the freshman year, this course aims to provide extensive training and practice in expository writing. Although the course may be offered through any department or program, the craft of writing is its principal purpose. With a steady classroom focus on writing style and techniques for about three weeks of the 14-week term, students are expected to write at least six short papers, some of which are revised in consultation with the instructor. This foundational course includes not only training in argumentation, organization, and stylistics, but also a systematic review of technical matters such as grammar, punctuation, and usage.
b. Upper-level Writing-Intensive Course.
Upper-level Writing Intensive courses are offered in the student’s major as part of the major requirement. Such courses aim to sharpen the student’s skills through frequent writing assignments. They may include conferences with the instructor and should include assignments to revise written work and some time spent in classroom, group-engaged attention to the writing process. The second writing-intensive course or its college-approved equivalent (in the major) should also expose students to conventions of writing and research expected in a given discipline. Sewanee graduates are thus trained to express themselves with clarity and precision.
Objective 8. Physical Education and Wellness.
Two courses, not counted among the 32 full academic courses required for graduation, are required. One of these must be completed by the end of the freshman year and the second by the end of the sophomore year.
As the Greeks and Romans understood, healthy bodies and minds are closely connected and need to be cultivated together. Students are expected to take these courses in order to learn about the proper care of the body, the value of regular exercise, or to obtain an appreciation of individual and team sports.
Learning Objective Attributes for Courses.
Courses judged to be suitable for General Education are tagged with one or two attributes, each attribute corresponding to one of Learning Objectives 1 through 6. Listing of the relevant atttribution(s) for every qualifying course can be found online, within the full roster of currently-offered courses on the Registrar's webpage, and this list is updated every semester. It should be remembered that, under the new General Education Model, students can continue to fulfill certain of their distribution reuirements by taking courses in the Interdiscliplinary Humanities Program. See the admission section for details of how this option has been newly configured under the provisions of the latest General Eduction Model.
Recognition of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Studies.
Students who perform exceptionally well on AP exams (score of 4 or 5) or higher-level IB exams (score of 5, 6, or 7) are considered to have fulfilled appropriate Learning Objectives.