The cornerstone of Central’s liberal arts curriculum is the Core, a combination of course and proficiency requirements which ensure that the education of all Central College students is grounded in an understanding of the breadth of human thought and experience.
One of the most prominent symbols on our campus is the bridge over the pond, which represents the story of intentional learning at Central College. Intentional learners are active rather than passive. They are not just problem solvers, they are also problem finders. Intentional learners build bridges between themselves and others, as well as among academic disciplines, and they understand that the more bridges they build, the more roads they can travel in the lifelong journey of the liberal arts.
The first-year seminar at Central begins this process by establishing relationships among the sciences, the arts, and the humanities and by asking students to consider the bridges they want to build over the next four years. By developing their writing abilities, investigating global sustainability, and learning how to communicate effectively across cultures, students extend their bridges beyond the first-year seminar. While journeying through disciplinary studies, intentional learners remain mindful of the liberal arts environment as a community where disciplines are united by the common pursuits of understanding and beauty. By putting the pieces together themselves, laying foundations for their futures and stringing connecting cables among the courses they take, students reach the final year of their journey at Central well equipped for another transformative experience. The capstone to the liberal arts returns to the interdisciplinary emphasis of the first-year seminar, this time asking students to build more of the bridges themselves. Intentional learners thus approach their futures not just as travelers, but as bridge builders with the capacities for constructing their own life journeys and transforming the world around them.
The Core is divided into five main parts: integrative studies, disciplinary studies, global perspectives, global sustainability, and writing intensive.
Integrative Studies (6 credits) presents “bookmarks” for the Central academic experience. During the first year, all new students take LAS 110: Intersections – a first-year interdisciplinary seminar designed to introduce students to the intellectual life at a liberal arts college and the academic life at Central. Small groups of students explore a common course topic from a variety of academic viewpoints. During the senior year, students are required to take LAS 410: Liberal Arts Seminar. Seminar topics seek to engage students through writing intensive projects that explore independent inquiry, critical thinking, and persuasive communication.
Disciplinary Studies (3 credits each area, 21 credits total) allows students to choose courses from the following academic areas as they explore the depth and breadth of the liberal arts experience.
Global Sustainability (3 credits) introduces students to their role as citizen in a global society “meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs” (UN, Brundtland Commission, 1987). Sustainability as a concept captures the interconnectedness of environmental, economic, and social systems. Sustainability education helps students acquire and apply heightened knowledge and awareness of significant intergenerational issues and problems and solutions by raising awareness and understanding of “how their personal and collective actions affect the sustainability of local and global systems” (National Sustainability Education Standards, 2005).
Global Perspectives (0-14 credit) continues the discussion of global citizenship and brings “hands on” applicability. Students take courses in a second language, study abroad on one of Central’s study abroad programs, and/or complete courses in International Studies or Intercultural Studies.
Writing Intensive (4 courses). One of the most significant components of Central’s curriculum is an exemplary commitment to the development of speaking and writing skills. Central College has one of the longest histories in American higher education of helping students become rhetorically sophisticated, so that they may best adapt to and communicate successfully in a multitude of academic and professional settings. Students must complete four writing intensive courses including LAS 110: Intersections and LAS 410: Liberal Arts Seminar. Students must also complete one writing intensive courses at the 100-level or above during their first two years and one writing intensive course at the 200-level or above during the second/third year.