Departmental Learning Goals

While at Wesleyan, students engage in the deep study of an academic field once they have declared a major. The departments, programs, and college below have specified what knowledge and skills they hope their students will developing through each major’s coursework and other related activities.

  • African American Studies

    Our students are trained in cross-cultural, interdisciplinary, and critical approaches to the study of the experience of people of African descent in the Atlantic world, especially in the United States and the Caribbean. The major in African American studies features an array of courses in the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts. 

    Students who major in African American studies

    • will develop sophisticated critical reading, writing, and research skills and will apply these in their studies of the histories and influences of people of African descent.
    • will demonstrate their familiarity with the foundational ideas, theories, and methodological approaches of African American studies.
    • will develop and apply analytical skills that are rooted in the discipline of African American studies and that are informed by interdisciplinary approaches to research.
    • will use their enhanced analytical skills to demonstrate their understanding, assessments, and critiques of Western conceptualizations of race, issues of race ,and identity, African American intellectual traditions, cultural production, and political histories.  
    • will apply, critique, and reimagine the methodologies and insights of many disciplines to their understanding of the cultural, historical, political, and social development of people of African descent.
  • American Studies
    Ultimately, our goal for our majors is that they develop a critical, theoretically informed understanding of the United States as a political, social, and cultural formation that exists in and had its inception in a transnational context of settler colonialism, imperial expansion, and global capitalism. In addition, we want our majors to develop the skills in research and writing that will allow them to apply that understanding to concrete and particular issues and convey the results of their analysis effectively. Our majors learn about the interdisciplinary field of American studies in its most expansive and robust form, including emphases on race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, indigeneity, disability, and class.
  • Anthropology

    Our overarching goal is to provide students with sophisticated ways of understanding both human unity and human difference. We want students to think critically about discourses that divide the world into fully modern western Selves and not-yet-modern non-western Others, but to do so without romanticizing cultural differences. We want them to appreciate how anthropological theory is constructed and used in understanding particular cases. Our approach is premised on complex global interconnectivity that interrogates boundary-making projects and explores the fabrication of national, cultural, and regional differences in a historical perspective. This means zooming in to understand how translocal ideologies and forces are negotiated in local settings, but also zooming out to link up localities and build a contingent picture of the interconnected world we inhabit.

  • Archeological Studies

    Archaeology is the discipline most directly concerned with the understanding and explanation of past societies through the study of their material remains.  Archaeology majors are expected to master four of six themes or topics:

    • History and theory of the discipline
    • The nature of archaeological evidence
    • The construction of archaeological arguments
    • Chronology
    • The materiality of social, political, and economic organization
    • The intersection of archaeological evidence with past and present identities

    Majors are also required to take at least one course in each of the departments that contribute to the Archaeology Program (Anthropology, Art History, Classical Civilization) in order to expose them to different disciplinary approaches to the study of material culture.

  • Art History

    The Art History program faculty has set the following goals for student achievement or success in the major.

    • Intercultural literacy, including knowledge of at least one foreign language and knowledge of artistic production in more than one world region.
    • Visual analysis, including knowledge of a broad range of objects, as well as the ability to analyze the form of one work in depth.
    • Textual analysis.
    • Historical awareness, or an understanding of how a given object or sets of objects relates to a culture, its history, religion, politics, and social structure.
    • Methodological sophistication, including experience with more than one art historical methodology and an ability to distinguish methodological differences.
    • Expository writing, or the ability to articulate and substantiate a complex argument in writing.
    • Research, including the ability to identify and use primary and secondary documents.
    • Originality, or the ability to define and carry out a substantial, original research project. 
  • Art Studio

    The art studio program faculty has set the following goals for student achievement or success in the major:

    • Exploration of and proficiency with a wide range of media and technique, at the introductory level and beyond 
    • Honing observational skill
    • Fluency in visual language
    • The development of technical facility enabling students to explore their personal visions through making art
    • Broad awareness of current and historical art and its theoretical and historical context
    • Critique methodologies, and the ability to analyze art from diverse intellectual traditions and technical approaches
    • Development of independent studio practice, ideation, and methodology, culminating in a one-person exhibition senior year
  • Astronomy

    In this major, students are expected to acquire or develop:

    • a broad understanding at an introductory level of the foundational concepts and recent discoveries that have shaped modern astronomy and astrophysics;
    • proficiency at an advanced level with the theoretical concepts and observational tools employed in four or more distinct subfields of astrophysics;
    • firsthand experience with the process of science through participation in research;
    • the technical and research skills needed to pursue graduate study in astronomy;
    • analytical abilities and computing skills useful for careers outside of professional astronomy.
  • Biology
    The Biology Department expects its majors to develop a broad and integrative understanding of the theory and practice of biology across a range of disciplines and levels of biological organization. The curricular requirements of the major are designed to provide enough flexibility for each student to choose a disciplinary emphasis of most interest and fulfill the additional expectation of achieving some depth of knowledge in a particular area through a relatively intensive classroom or laboratory experience. In this context, we want our students to develop skills in critical and quantitative thinking, creative problem solving, and intuition for the process of scientific reasoning. We also encourage our students to engage in ethical thinking about biological research and the role of biology in society and sustainability. A complete program of study in biology entails the application of these skills to designing or conducting original research (including scholarly research via scientific databases), writing about and orally communicating scientific concepts, as well as the comprehension and critical interpretation of primary scientific literature. Our ultimate goal is, therefore, to train students to use their biological knowledge and skills to become effective, scientifically informed citizens and professionals.
  • Chemistry

    Students graduating with a BA degree in chemistry should be able to:

    • Apply the scientific method. The student should understand how to develop and test scientific hypotheses.
    • Understand data. The student should understand how chemical data is produced, interpreted, and applied.
    • Perform laboratory experiments. The student should have the ability to carry out standard chemical experimental procedures safely and successfully.
    • Apply quantitative tools. The student should be able to select and apply appropriate quantitative techniques (e.g., calculus, statistics, chemical group theory, or computational modeling) to chemical questions.
    • Use the primary literature. The student should be able to search for and understand publications from the primary scientific literature.
    • Critically evaluate scientific claims. The student should be able to critique claims and arguments made in the chemical literature.
    • Communicate. The student should be able to present chemical data and their interpretation effectively in written, visual, and oral formats.
    • Practice science with integrity. The student should adhere to established professional ethical standards in the generation, documentation, and presentation of chemical data.
    • Appreciate chemistry as an interdisciplinary science. The student should understand how to apply chemical perspectives to topics from related fields.
  • Classical Civilization

    Classical studies—the study of the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome—is inherently interdisciplinary, requiring competency not only in Greek and Latin language and literature but also ancient history and science, religion, art, and archaeology. The Classical Studies Department offers two majors, classics and classical civilization, both of which provide the opportunity to study all facets of the ancient world alongside the study of at least one of the classical languages through the intermediate level. The major in classics places more emphasis on literature and textual studies, reading a range of works in poetry, drama, history and philosophy, while the major in classical civilization encourages the parallel exploration of both the literary and archaeological remains of the Greeks and Romans. Through coursework, participation in study abroad, and independent research, majors in both concentrations develop expertise in these five areas, all of which will equip them for a variety of personal and professional pursuits:

    • Linguistic agility. Reading knowledge of Latin and/or Greek, which confers a deep understanding of language—how it works and how to make it work for us—and an ability to critically analyze texts in a variety of media and genres.
    • Interpretive acumen. Analytical ability to recognize patterns in texts and artifacts; to filter data to identify key ideas and structures; and to weigh and evaluate differing perspectives.
    • Creativity. Integrating different categories of evidence (archaeological sciences, cultural studies, language) to ask questions of the past and to use constructive analogy to apply the approaches to classical studies to addressing questions outside the discipline.
    • Effective communication. Present polished ideas and arguments to different types of audiences, using oral, written, digital, and performative media.
    • Diversity, inclusion, and social justice. Rich understanding of the historical, material, and physical environment of these two civilizations—and how they interacted with the cultures around them—fosters intercultural awareness and a sympathetic capacity demonstrated in the ability to inhabit multiple perspectives.
  • Classics

    Classical studies—the study of the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome—is inherently interdisciplinary, requiring competency not only in Greek and Latin language and literature but also ancient history and science, religion, art, and archaeology.  The Classical Studies Department offers two majors, classics and classical civilization, both of which provide the opportunity to study all facets of the ancient world alongside the study of at least one of the classical languages through the intermediate level. The major in classics places more emphasis on literature and textual studies, reading a range of works in poetry, drama, history, and philosophy, while the major in classical civilization encourages the parallel exploration of both the literary and archaeological remains of the Greeks and Romans. Through coursework, participation in study abroad, and independent research, majors in both concentrations develop expertise in these five areas, all of which will equip them for a variety of personal and professional pursuits:

    • Linguistic agility. Reading knowledge of Latin and/or Greek, which confers a deep understanding of language—how it works and how to make it work for us—and an ability to critically analyze texts in a variety of media and genres.
    • Interpretive acumen. Analytical ability to recognize patterns in texts and artifacts; to filter data to identify key ideas and structures; and to weigh and evaluate differing perspectives.
    • Creativity. Integrating different categories of evidence (archaeological sciences, cultural studies, language) to ask questions of the past and to use constructive analogy to apply the approaches to classical studies to addressing questions outside the discipline.
    • Effective communication. Present polished ideas and arguments to different types of audiences, using oral, written, digital, and performative media.
    • Diversity, inclusion, and social justice. Rich understanding of the historical, material, and physical environment of these two civilizations—and how they interacted with the cultures around them—fosters intercultural awareness and a sympathetic capacity demonstrated in the ability to inhabit multiple perspectives.
  • College of Letters

    The College of Letters (COL) is a three-year, interdisciplinary major for the study of European literature, history, and philosophy, from antiquity to the present. During these three years, students learn how to think and write critically about texts in relation to their contexts and influences—both European and non-European—and in relation to the disciplines that shape and are shaped by them.

    Through a required sequence of five colloquia in antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Early Modern period, the 19th and then the 20th and 21st centuries, students learn about the emergence of the constitutive idea of Europe out of Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome, and Europe’s changing identity and cultures over the ages. Over these three years, students also learn about the emergence and change of the disciplines as well as the forms of argumentation associated with each. Collaborative team-teaching in the first three colloquia fosters this pedagogical goal, ensuring that distinct disciplinary perspectives are both represented in conversation and in the classroom. Finally, majors become proficient in a foreign language through study abroad, where they also deepen their knowledge of another culture.

    Assessment of these goals takes place continuously over the three years of the major. In lieu of grades, students receive lengthy written evaluations for each of their COL courses, which address both written work and class participation. Study abroad is required in the second semester of the sophomore year, and in order to be accepted for the program of their choosing, students must prove that they have acquired the necessary level of language proficiency. When abroad they take courses taught in the foreign language and when they return they must continue to maintain proficiency by taking at least one upper-level seminar in that language. Toward the end of their junior year, majors take comprehensive examinations that are planned, administered, and graded by two external examiners, representing different disciplines and with specializations in different time periods. The written portion of the comprehensive exam tests knowledge of the material covered in the first three colloquia and evaluates the students’ ability to analyze and draw from a variety of sources in order to develop and support coherent, integrative, and interdisciplinary arguments about them. The oral portion of the exam tests the students’ ability to orally defend and/or expand their arguments in a face-to-face conversation. In keeping with the COL’s preference for evaluations over grades, the examiners’ grading scale of Credit, Honors, and High Honors accompanies a detailed written evaluation of the student’s work on both parts of the exam. During the senior year, students must complete an honors project in their choice of disciplines and media. Senior theses (taking place over two semesters) are evaluated by two professors who are not the student’s advisor, in order to assure an objective assessment. One of the two evaluators is always a non-COL professor. Honors essays (over one semester) require one evaluating professor who is not the advisor.

    By virtue of the Junior Comprehensive Examinations, the COL also undergoes its own yearly self evaluation. The evaluations written for each student by the external examiners are also made available to the COL director, who looks to see if there is a trend in the overall strengths and weaknesses among the students. In addition, the examiners are asked to give their assessment of the entire COL program, first in a meeting with us and then in a letter that they may write together or individually. These assessments are shared with the department as a whole and any suggestions for changes to the program or the teaching are taken seriously. Indeed, it is because of these yearly assessments that we have made significant changes in our curriculum and, most notably, in the sequence of the colloquia.

  • College of Social Studies
    • Critical Thinking
    • Creative Thinking 
    • Markedly improved reading skills
    • Ability to write an argumentative, high-quality academic paper
    • Expertise in participation, debate, and discussion, in a respectful manner, in the classroom
    • Learning how to work with professors in order to improve written work
    • Ease in conversation—about academic subjects and current events—in informal settings as wel
  • Computer Science
    • Understanding abstraction: At its heart, computer science is the study of abstractions for the purpose of understanding computation, and as such students must learn appropriate levels of abstraction for solving computational problems. All courses in the curriculum contribute to this goal.
    • Programming: Students must learn how to program in a high-level language, as such programming is the primary tool in computer science. This is typically how students are first exposed to the field, and our majors achieve this goal in the freshman or sophomore year by taking the gateway sequence COMP 211—212.
    • Analysis: Students must learn how to reason about computation; this includes analyzing algorithms and proving properties such as correctness and complexity, and requires an understanding of appropriate mathematical tools. The courses that focus primarily on this goal are COMP 312 (Design and Analysis of Algorithms) and COMP 321 (Design of Programming Languages).
    • Creation: Students must learn how to create original computational structures; this requires an understanding of fundamental techniques in algorithm and data structure design and an ability to combine established techniques in novel ways. All courses in the curriculum contribute to this goal.
    • Limits: Students must understand not only how to analyze and create computational structures, but also the limits of computation itself; this requires an understanding of the mathematical foundations and formalisms of computer science. This goal is primarily addressed in COMP 301 (Automata Theory and Formal Languages).
  • Dance

    The major is designed to provide broad and deep exposure to the discipline of dance as a critical, embodied, reflexive and socially engaged research method. The department conceives of dance performance broadly, embracing traditionally staged performances, site-based works as well as mediated and interdisciplinary performative modes. Students take courses in choreography, improvisation, pedagogy, research methods, dance ethnography, history, and dance techniques as well as unique interdisciplinary courses that integrate varied modes of learning. The curriculum focuses on providing students with the skills to develop new knowledge and produce original research expressed through performance, writing and their vital intertwining into new hybrid forms.

    1. Majors will develop keen intercultural competence. One of the fundamental tenets of the major is that the analysis of dance through practice and observation is central to the study of cultures and is a vital aspect of exploration in cross-cultural inquiry. Students should develop a proficiency in the understanding of dance in its cultural manifestations, leading them beyond knowledge of a culture or an appreciation of diversity to an understanding and celebration of difference.
    2. Majors will develop an awareness of the ways in which dance structures and is structured by culture. This includes a thoughtful understanding of the problematics of spectatorship; the role of the artist in society; as well as issues of embodiment, difference and performativity.
    3. Majors will develop an understanding of the basic principles of dance making through creative process work including choreography, improvisation and public enactments. They will acquire the ability to develop an idea or research question through the elements of dance performance such as: the skillful exploration and application of movement vocabulary; choreographic form; and the consideration of framing devices. They will develop the ability to structure original ideas and to create powerful original work.
    4. Majors will develop an intercultural understanding of the elements of physical expression and performance artistry and will attain and/or maintain intermediate (or above) technical proficiency, based on sound kinesiological principles. They will develop these skills in at least two of the following techniques: modern/contemporary, Bharata Natyam, West African, ballet, black vernacular forms/hip hop, and South East Asian dance forms (when available).
    5. Majors will develop strong reflective and critical awareness of the research methodologies available in Dance Studies articulated in written, choreographic and performative forms.
    6. Majors will develop the ability to work collaboratively to complete complex tasks through engagement with all element of performance production, including technical theater, scenographic design and publicity.
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences

    Students graduating with a BA degree in earth and environmental sciences should be able to:

    • Decipher the structure, composition, and dynamics of the earth system. The student should understand the structure and composition of earth’s spheres (geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere), and how these spheres interact with one another and change over time.
    • Apply the scientific method. The student should be able to develop and test scientific hypotheses.
    • Understand data. The student should understand how earth and environmental sciences data are produced, interpreted, and applied.
    • Apply quantitative tools. The student should be able to select and apply appropriate quantitative techniques to earth and environmental sciences questions (e.g., calculus, statistics, spatial analysis).
    • Use the primary literature. The student should be able to search for and understand publications from the primary scientific literature.
    • Critically evaluate scientific claims. The student should be able to critique arguments made in the earth and environmental sciences literature.
    • Communicate. The student should be able to present earth and environmental sciences data and their interpretation in a variety of written, visual, and oral formats.
    • Conduct research. The student should be able to carry out an original research project, including: the identification of a research problem; the formulation of a hypothesis; the design of the methodology; the collection, processing, and interpretation of data; and the presentation of findings in written, visual, and oral formats.
  • (College of) East Asian Studies

    The College of East Asian Studies (CEAS) has two mutually reinforcing core missions: to cultivate an outstanding group of students with strong language abilities, wide-ranging knowledge about East Asia, and an area of particular expertise; and to promote knowledge of and engagement with the histories, cultures, and contemporary significances of East Asia across the campus, curriculum, and broader community. 

  • Economics
    1. Knowledge of basic economic principles, important economic issues, and major economic institutions
    2. The capability to read and understand the scholarly literature
    3. The capability to engage in theoretical and empirical analysis of economic problems.
  • English
    • Develop skills in reading, interpreting, discussing, and writing about literature. English majors learn to be adept critics of poetry, novels, essays, and plays.
    • For many students, experiment with or develop the ability to produce new works of literature.
    • Build knowledge of the history of literature and develop critical thinking about the relationships among literature, culture, and history.
    • Become conversant with literary theory.
  • Environmental Studies
    • Competence beyond the major-track introductory level in interpreting environmental information
    • Develop a deeper understanding of the complex connections between environmental issues and social or political issues
    • Develop the analytical and critical capacities necessary to formulate compelling arguments about environmental issues
    • Engage both scholars and the lay public in discourse about environmental issues (mode of expression varied)
    • Engage with scholars in the field who are making important environmental contributions
    • Practical and theoretical experiences in environmental issues by undertaking a senior project
  • Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

    The Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (FGSS) Program is an interdisciplinary program staffed by faculty with wide-ranging research interests from across the university. The FGSS Program major and curriculum enable students to engage in critical analyses of the construction of gender and sexuality as categories of analysis and experience within the broad matrices of race, class, and ethnicity, and the ways in which these categories inform knowledge production. Our curriculum has a broad offering of courses with wide subject, geographic, and thematic coverage. Majors have excellent opportunities for developing their own areas of concentrated study and for individually designed research. Our courses offer students historical and contemporary explorations of women, gender, and sexuality from a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives on Africa, the Caribbean, East Asia, Europe, Latin America, and South Asia, as well as the U.S.

    FGSS expects its majors to:

    • become skilled at reading and writing critical feminisms;
    • have a well-developed understanding of the interdisciplinary, transnational and intersectional concerns of the field; and
    • interrogate the historical and contemporary, local and transnational forces underlying social and economic injustice and inequality in order to promote greater possibilities for freedom and social justice.

    In other to achieve these goals, students should be able to:

    • form an argument using evidence
    • critically evaluate the arguments of others
    • analyze texts from a variety of disciplines
    • situate social and political issues in their historical context
    • assess how activism and intellectual inquiry are interrelated
  • Film Studies
    The College of Film and the Moving Image (CFILM) encompasses the Film Studies Department, the Center for Film Studies, the Student Film Series, and the Wesleyan Cinema Archives. The College approaches the moving image as an art in all its various forms, whether fiction, documentary, experimental, live-action, or animated, and in all its various venues, whether in cinemas, on television, in galleries, on the Internet, or on consumer/home formats. The College is designed specifically for liberal arts undergraduates who benefit most from the marriage of image making, history, and studies.
  • German Studies

    The German studies major is designed to allow students to explore the rich and diverse cultures of the German-speaking countries through a flexible interdisciplinary program that stimulates the students’ creative and critical capacities and can serve as the basis for future academic or professional study or employment.
     
    The specific goals are as follows:

    • Knowledge of the German language: Courses are designed to enable students to achieve at least Advanced Mid-Level proficiency in speaking and comprehending spoken German, according to the ACTFL guidelines. They will have ample opportunity to become fluent and accurate writers of German in a variety of genres and contexts.
    • Intercultural literacy: Students can expect to gain insight into unfamiliar cultural attitudes and artifacts that enables them to be open-minded and competent participants in their own and foreign environments.
    • Historical breadth: Students will be able to acquire insight into the development of the German-language cultures from the Enlightenment to the present and those cultures’ impact on Western civilization and other cultures.
    • Knowledge of the field of German studies: Through their courses, majors can become acquainted with techniques of textual interpretation, with the scope of the field, and with prevailing research methods and disciplinary tools.
    • Experience in German-speaking countries: Students will receive strong encouragement and support to experience a German-speaking country firsthand through: study abroad during the academic year or the summer, internships, thesis/capstone research, or study or teaching after graduation.
  • Government
    Students who complete the government major should be able to explore systematically a range of political issues and modes of argumentation, drawing on the knowledge, analytical abilities, and quantitative or qualitative skills they have acquired through their courses. They should also be better prepared to think critically, write clearly, and speak effectively. By acquiring these capabilities, government majors prepare themselves for lives of contribution in public service, education, law, business, journalism, and other fields.
  • Hispanic Literatures and Cultures

    Students who complete the major in Hispanic literatures and cultures gain the knowledge and skills needed to successfully pursue their academic and professional interests:

    • the language proficiency to live, study, and work in a Spanish-speaking environment, in the United States or abroad;
    • strong communicative skills, in both Spanish and their native language;
    • the capacity to understand diverse points of view; and
    • the ability to draw on a wide range of sources to stimulate their own creative and critical capacities
  • Italian Studies
    The Italian studies major combines the study of Italian language, literature, film, and culture, bringing humanistic tradition together with current global concerns. The major is designed to provide students with a comparative, international, and interdisciplinary education. Language training at Wesleyan serves as the base from which to explore Italian history, culture, and society from the Middle Ages to the present. Likewise, the in-depth study of a variety of texts (literary, filmic, and cultural) enhances the study of the language. The study of a foreign language and culture complements students’ understanding of their own native cultures, enriching their critical understanding of it. Small classes taught through the medium of Italian, along with the extracurricular activities and study-abroad opportunities, allow students to study in detail and collaborate on a variety of critical topics and foster abilities considered essential in an ever-globalizing world, such as critical thinking, intercultural interpretation and literacy, and effective citizenship. These skills, in turn, prepare students for a variety of professions and lifelong inquiries.
  • Mathematics

    The department has the following learning goals for mathematics majors:

    • Develop a basic understanding of, and computational facility with, major objects of mathematical and applied interest, such as functions, vector spaces, and groups.
    • Understand abstract mathematical reasoning, e.g., understand an abstract system of rules, find examples of objects that satisfy those rules, conjecture theorems from those examples, and prove those theorems.
    • Understand some mathematical applications and ways to use mathematics in practice, and be able to make connections to topics outside of the strict course content.
    • Students should be able to write about and speak about mathematics, clearly and elegantly.
  • Medieval Studies

    Medieval studies majors, through the study of methods in their chosen disciplines, will be expected to master the following skills:

    •  An ability to interpret intersections among the many cultures, religions, ethnicities, and identities of the European middle ages.
    •  The critical use of historical evidence across a range of disciplines.
    •  A comparative approach to medieval texts in various genres.
    •  The ability to construct arguments informed by ideas of temporalities and geographies that are currently debated by scholars in medieval studies.
  • Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
    • Acquire mastery of core foundational knowledge of molecular biology and biochemistry
    • Acquire selective familiarity with our primary literature and bioinformatic databases
    • Achieve familiarity with major questions at the forefront of our field
    • Acquire mastery of analytical, quantitative, and creative approaches to analyze problems in our field and to synthesize them in order to create logical hypotheses and experimental plans
    • Acquire ability to use multidisciplinary approaches to synthesize a cogent experimental plan
    • Acquire mastery of important methodologies in our field
    • Acquire mastery of a subset of hands-on methodologies in our field
    • Acquire proficiency in oral, written, and visual modes of effective scientific communication
  • Music

    AT GRADUATION, MUSIC MAJORS WILL BE ABLE TO:

    • Think analytically and critically about musical languages, histories, and cultures
    • Write effectively about music
    • Perform and/or create music with proficiency and creativity
    • Engage unfamiliar traditions and paradigms of humanly organized sound with sensitivity and insight
    • Apply their musical knowledge and skills within broader investigations of the human experience
  • Neuroscience and Behavior

    Our program offers a curriculum that encourages fluency across multiple disciplines in the field of neuroscience and behavior. Immersion in this field requires thinking across multiple levels of analysis and an appreciation for how complex and broad questions can be made amenable to scientific inquiry. In terms of goals, we have three areas of knowledge that we expect all students to acquire by the time they have completed the NS&B major:

    • Structure: The parts and how they connect. Structural knowledge includes neural development, neuroanatomy, neurotransmitters, and the cell and molecular biology of the neuron.
    • Function: How the parts come together to produce systems. Such systems include various sensory, motor, and neuroendocrine systems. Knowledge concerning function is gained by studies of structures and studies of perception, learning and memory, behavior, and cognition.
    • Theory: Governing principles that can be proposed from all the above. Examples of theories include those that address the relationships between brain and behavior, articulate how brain structure and function changes over time, and explain cognitive and perceptual processes.

    In addition, it is our goal that all students can skillfully apply and analyze knowledge gained from their studies. Statistics courses, lab-based methods courses, and/or direct experience in research projects serve this goal.

  • Philosophy

    A course of study in philosophy is successful if only three interconnected things can happen:

    • First, students are encouraged to practice and refine essential skills. These include close reading, following and evaluating paths of reasoning, participating charitably in dialogue, articulating values and priorities, recognizing alternative ways of framing and addressing a problem, and extending all of these skills into clear written work.
    • Second, students become familiar with multiple philosophical approaches, thinkers, traditions, and themes. Good philosophical education does not require any particular canonical content, but students should become adept at recognizing connections across the philosophy curriculum and beyond. In addition to comparing different approaches to the same theme, students should come to appreciate connections among inquiries in broad thematic areas (inquiry into values, inquiry into reality, inquiry into knowledge).
    • Third, students come to understand how philosophical inquiry relates to their own perspectives and priorities, including background concerns and academic interests beyond philosophy. No course of study in philosophy is wisely chosen unless it is substantially responsive to the knowledge, experiences, and problems that matter for each student. Working closely with an advisor, each student should find a balance between venturing into multiple philosophical areas and weaving a web of interconnected courses around personally salient priorities.  

    Graduates will be well prepared not only for graduate work in philosophy, but also for law, medicine, and a range of other academic and professional endeavors. 

  • Psychology

    The Psychology Department learning goals are organized by four objectives:

    Objective 1: Knowledge Base in Psychology

    • To understand and interpret basic theoretical perspectives, scientific principles and empirical findings in three major content areas of psychology: (1) neuroscience and/or cognition, (2) psychopathology and/or developmental psychology, and (3) social and/or cultural psychology.
    • To learn how to formulate research questions and conduct psychological studies.
    • To obtain skills in statistical and data analysis techniques, quantitative and qualitative, and apply these techniques to psychological studies.

    Objective 2: Scientific Inquiry and Critical Thinking

    • To critically assess scientific methodologies in Psychology and human behavior, including:
      • understanding hypothesis formation;
      • applying standardized, reliable, and valid outcome measures; and
      • applying sound data-analytic techniques.
    • Integrate knowledge and methodologies across different kinds of observation in the study of human behavior and mental processes, including social, cognitive, perceptual, and biological processes, as well as influences of culture and gender.

    Objective 3: Ethical and Social Responsibility

    • Recognize the necessity for ethical behavior in all aspects of the science and practice of psychology
    • Critically evaluate relations of psychological and behavioral knowledge with social policy, public health, and clinical practice.
    • Use psychological knowledge to clarify social disparities, and to promote human well-being and change in a multicultural and global context.

    Objective 4: Communication

    • Acquire effective communication skills by disseminating research findings through skill building in oral expression and expository writing.
  • Religion
    Our students are trained in cross-cultural, interdisciplinary, and critical approaches to the study of religion. They are expected to understand the power and limits of these approaches to the study of religion, and to demonstrate the ability to analyze practices of interpretation, systems of belief, and patterns of religious behavior. Each student will develop critical reading, writing, and research skills, and apply these to topics in the history, philosophy, and ethnography of religious traditions, including the effects of religion in society; the imbrication of religion with science and secularism; and the ways religions can form collective identity through race, nationalism, gender and sexuality, class, caste, language, and migration. They will demonstrate these skills relative to various forms of religious phenomena such as myths, rituals, and texts.
  • Romance Studies
    The Romance studies major provides students with the proficiency in two Romance languages (among French, Italian, and Spanish) to live, study, and work successfully in the corresponding French-, Italian-, and/or Spanish-speaking environments. They learn about their literatures and other cultural forms such as film and, through them, about their modes of thought, expression, and creative achievement. As a result, they improve their ability to communicate in French, Italian, and/or Spanish as well as their native language; become more adept at understanding other points of view; and learn to draw on a wide range of sources to stimulate their own creative and critical capacities. Students are encouraged to bring the resources of their two Romance cultures to bear together on problems that interest them, providing a depth of perspective unavailable in English only or a single foreign language. Finally, students explore the enormous cultural diversity of the French-, Italian-, and/or Spanish-speaking worlds through a flexible interdisciplinary program (often including study abroad) that can serve as the basis for future work or further academic or professional studies.
  • Russian and East European Studies
    The Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies (REES) major is designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of contemporary Russian culture and society, its history, its political and economic institutions, and its place in the world. Students are strongly encouraged to spend a semester or a summer in Russia. At the end of their studies, students should have achieved an advanced level of fluency in the language and should be able to work with Russian sources to conduct original research in their chosen area of specialization. They should be able to read or watch Russian media and understand the historical and cultural references that frame Russians' understanding of the world. Students should also have a basic familiarity with the historical, cultural, social, and political developments of the other post-Soviet states beyond Russia and have the opportunity to explore these countries in more detail if they so desire. The major prepares students for careers in research and cultural analysis, education, law, artistic production, diplomacy and public service, business, and communication.
  • Science in Society

    The faculty of the Science in Society Program have approved the following list of learning goals for all students undertaking the major in science in society:

    • Scientific competence: Competence beyond the major-track introductory level in a scientific discipline, indicated by students’ performance in appropriate courses in that science;
    • Core competence in science studies: Improved understanding of the sciences and/or medicine as historically developing, socially and culturally situated practices of inquiry and conceptual understanding; that understanding should have both multidisciplinary breadth and greater depth within a particular disciplinary area of concentration.
    • Disciplinary depth: Those students whose area of concentration is in a discipline that incorporates the sciences and medicine as objects of inquiry should improve their understanding of how that discipline conceives and approaches the sciences and/or medicine and how its approach connects to other ways of understanding the sciences and medicine; those students whose area of concentration is fulfilled by a second major in a scientific discipline should improve their understanding of how practices and achievements of that science are historically, culturally, and philosophically situated and how their scientific understanding and their core competence in science studies can be mutually informative.
    • Scientific contextualization: Improved skills for engaging their scientific understanding in relevant ways with specific issues or concerns of broader social, cultural, political, and/or philosophical significance and for acquiring and assessing relevant technical background for such issues that go beyond their prior scientific training.