St. Thomas has a well-integrated Core Curriculum
The University of St. Thomas is a Catholic, comprehensive, urban university offering a values-based education designed to help prepare you for an enriched life and a productive career.
The core curriculum fosters both an appreciation for the life of the mind and an awareness of interdependence with others on local, national and global levels. Graduates of St. Thomas will have developed:
- The ability to think analytically, critically, and creatively, and to solve problems
- An understanding of the fine arts as modes of expression that deepen human experience and open new perspectives
- The ability to articulate and support moral and ethical judgments
- An understanding of the responsibility of educated persons to contribute to the communities and the environment in which they live on local, national and global levels
- The ability to use knowledge from various fields and to integrate ideas across disciplinary boundaries
This sequence of courses develops students’ critical awareness of language by helping them to recognize the relationship between their own experience and the interpretive possibilities of literature. Attention is paid to the integration of the individual’s composing process and the process of reading and understanding texts. These courses foster attentive reading, careful thinking, and effective writing.
What am I? How should I live? Philosophers throughout the centuries have pondered these questions which are of decisive importance for the whole of human life. In the first course, students will study the elements of logic, the method of philosophy, and will read about the nature of the human person. In the second course, students will focus on questions of human conduct – questions about what is right and wrong, good and bad, in the lives of individual persons and human societies. These courses are not mere histories of philosophical opinion; they are substantive inquiries into the meaning of human life insofar as it can be grasped by reason alone. Thus, they complement the courses students take in theology and in other areas. The two core courses are:
PHIL 115 Philosophy of the Human Person PHIL 214 or 215 Introductory Ethics
Students are required to take a core-area course in natural science with a laboratory component, a core-area course in mathematics, and a third core-area course in natural science (with a laboratory component), mathematics (MATH 114 or higher), quantitative reasoning or computer science. Core-area courses in natural science focus on the natural world and develop students’ abilities to evaluate scientific arguments critically, and enhance their quantitative and analytical reasoning skills. The laboratory component of these courses is an inquiry-based approach with opportunities for students to refine their observational skills through the acquisition and organization of data, analysis and interpretation of data, and the presentation of conclusions orally or in writing. Normally, Web-based courses are not accepted as lab sciences that satisfy this lab science requirement. Any exceptions to this rule must be pre-approved by the Core Area Curriculum Review Committee in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division.
In every historical period and cultural context, there are fundamental questions that concern human beings: the nature of the universe, the existence and nature of God, the nature of human beings, the relationship of humans to God and to the world, the nature of evil, and the possibility of redemption. The Department of Theology has designed a sequence of courses that acquaint students with these questions and assist them in articulating thoughtful responses formulated in light of the Catholic tradition and Christian faith. These courses contribute to the students’ liberal arts education at the University through the development of writing, reading, and critical thinking skills.
The first course, “The Christian Theological Tradition,” introduces students to the theological frameworks that Christians have historically used to address questions of faith and human existence. The core readings for the course are from the Bible and from classic writers within the Christian tradition. The course provides students with an opportunity to reflect critically on the Catholic and Christian traditions within the context of contemporary life. Finally, it provides students with a basic level of theological literacy to prepare them for the second and third-level courses.
The second-level (200-numbered and 300-numbered) courses invite students to practice theology by engaging at a deeper level in the discipline of “faith seeking understanding.” Courses at this level focus on a particular area of the Christian tradition, namely: the Bible, historical theology, systematic theology or moral theology. Students critically examine core elements of the tradition, such as classic texts, concepts, persons, and events, while remaining mindful of the contemporary context. Through these courses, students learn the skills and methods of the discipline. These second-level courses then serve as a foundation for the interdisciplinary “Bridge Courses” at the next level.
The “Bridge Course,” as the third course in the Faith and the Catholic Tradition sequence (400-numbered), will provide an opportunity for students to draw upon their entire program of studies. Serving as the culminating point for the curriculum, the Bridge Course prepares students to build connections between their studies in the liberal arts and the broader world for which their St. Thomas education has prepared them. A principal concern of the course is to guide students toward experiencing a sense of vocation in their professional, familial and social lives.
The goal of this requirement is to ensure that all students develop basic abilities to perform social scientific analyses of patterns of social interactions. Core-area courses in social analysis provide a broad introduction to the perspectives offered by one of the traditional social sciences. Courses will consider empirical and/or normative analysis, how social science knowledge differs from other kinds of knowledge, what constitutes data, the relationship between data and theory, and major conceptual perspectives. Where appropriate, courses will provide an understanding of and sensitivity to the diversity of American and/or other societies, an international perspective, and will address issues of social concern.
Core courses in Historical Studies increase students’ knowledge of the history of the modern world and its origins, but they also teach important skills that are foundational for an excellent liberal arts education, including critical thinking and analytical reading and writing skills. They teach basic methods of historical inquiry and analysis of sources and address issues related to the professional ethics of historians and the ethical use of historical materials. They also raise awareness of diversity within human history and the importance of intercultural learning.
A sequence of foreign language study aims to develop students’ skills in using a foreign language in a variety of tasks, including conversing, reading, writing and listening with comprehension. The language is used as the essential vehicle for coming to a deeper understanding of other cultures. The courses guide students toward a realization that the study of a foreign language provides a comparative basis from which to analyze their own language and culture. Study of the language will allow students to relate course content with that of courses taught in other disciplines.
Students must complete the 111, 112, and 211 sequence in a particular language. All students with previous language experience must take a placement examination administered by the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. The student’s previous work in the language will be considered. The Department of Modern and Classical Languages will make the final determination regarding the placement of students in foreign language courses. Students with sufficient proficiency in a language may test out of 211 and receive a waiver of the requirement. A waiver does not add credits on the student’s transcript. Students should begin the process of the language/culture requirement waiver in their first year at St. Thomas.
Students whose primary language of communication is a language other than English, and who have learned English as a second language, are exempt from the foreign language requirement. It is the student’s responsibility to present evidence to the chair of the department to support this exemption request.
A core-area course in one of the fine arts aims to enhance students’ understanding of and appreciation for one or more of the fine arts (art, music, or theater). Students gain an understanding of the role of the fine arts in expressing and maintaining, discovering and questioning a culture’s dominant beliefs and ideals. The focus of these courses is broad enough to encompass different periods, cultures, and styles, but also allows an intensive scrutiny of the way in which the work of art, music, or theater is composed and created. Students have a variety of choices in fulfilling this requirement.
Courses fulfilling the human diversity requirement consider ways in which preconceptions, stereotypes, and assumptions held by a particular individual, as well as that individual’s position within structures of privilege, affect understanding of issues related to diversity. In addition, the course addresses ways in which power and privilege operate at the institutional/systemic level. These courses address at least two of the following areas of inquiry: race and ethnicity, gender, religion, class, sexual orientation, disability status, or geopolitical status. These courses assist students in understanding the perspectives, values, experiences, works and achievements of the peoples and cultures being studied, recognizing that the experiences, beliefs, and values of any group being studied are not monolithic, but may vary widely within the group. Whenever possible they include materials (e.g., writings, films, narratives, oral histories, artwork) which are produced by the population or culture under study.
Courses fulfilling the human diversity requirement explicitly address the ways in which the study of diversity is valuable to a liberal arts education and fosters respect for the diversity of peoples and cultures within the fundamental unity of humankind. These courses also address how the discipline involved contributes to an understanding of the groups or culture under study and how the perspectives of the groups or culture might expand understanding of the discipline itself.