For a printable version of the handbook, please click here.
Note: This handbook is issued as a resource for both current and prospective majors in the College of Social Studies. We hope that it may be found helpful as well by visitors and other interested persons.
[Introduction] [Admission] [Sophomore Year] [Junior Year] [Senior Year] [Student Life] [Faculty Advisors] [Class Regulations] [Economics Requirement] [GenEds] [Transcripts] [GPA & Class Rank] [Prizes] [Phi Beta Kappa] [Degree Requirements] [Life After CSS] [Credits]
The College of Social Studies, founded in 1959, is the oldest of Wesleyan University’s existing interdisciplinary programs, along with the College of Letters. Created as a residential college, the CSS had its first quarters in Harriman Hall (the Public Affairs Center, or PAC), and its student majors lived in the same building. From 1965 to 1985 the CSS had its home in what is now Butterfield A, with its students at first living overhead. Over these years CSS students, by their own choice, dispersed across the various kinds of University housing, so that the College ceased to be residential; but the adjacency of faculty offices, classrooms, and social areas continues to foster informal academic and non-academic exchange among students and between students and tutors. In January 1986 the College returned to the PAC, where it occupies most of the fourth floor of what is now wholly an academic building. In addition to the CSS office and faculty offices, today’s quarters feature a lounge and a library as well as tutorial rooms and classrooms (the latter shared with the rest of the PAC).
From the start the CSS has been a coordinated, multidisciplinary program in Government, History, Economics, and Philosophy, taught through group tutorials, colloquia, and seminars. It was created in the belief that different forms of social studies are best pursued together, rather than in isolation, and that students understand the subject matter and nature of each discipline better by considering it in its relation to the others. The CSS curriculum stresses basic techniques of analysis in Economics, History and Government, as well as their application to the subject matters of those fields, and develops an understanding of methodological and critical issues through work in Philosophy. All classes are participatory, and the students write constantly and receive critiques of their writing. A steady schedule of visiting speakers and social events provides a sense of community that enhances the educational mission of the College.
Unlike most Wesleyan major programs, the CSS major begins in sophomore year. Interested frosh inform themselves over the first half of the year by talking to CSS students and faculty and perhaps attending a Friday social hour or a Monday luncheon. In February all frosh are explicitly invited to these functions, while current CSS students make dorm visits to encourage interest and the House Committee stages a public panel discussion of the CSS. The entire process of admitting a new sophomore class of thirty students is usually completed before spring break.
Interested students apply for admission to CSS during the spring of their first year. Each applicant is interviewed by a team of CSS tutors and students. All CSS majors must complete the economics prerequisite of ECON 101 with a grade of C+ or higher OR ECON 110 (for which a full-year of college-level calculus is required) with a grade of C+ or higher. Students are well-advised to have this required coursework behind them before entering the College.
However, some students who have not completed the economics prerequisite are admitted each year, on the understanding that they will complete the requirement in the fall term of the sophomore year.
A student who has taken an introductory Economics course prior in the first year but has not received a grade of C+ or higher should take another approved (by a co-Chair) Economics course, which will normally be a 200-level elective. If the grade in this second course is sufficiently high for the average of the two course grades to be at least C+, the student will have satisfied the economics requirement.
A score of 4 or 5 on the AP exams in BOTH microeconomics and macroeconomics or a score of 5 or higher on the IB exam in economics is sufficient to satisfy the requirement.
Failure to complete the economics requirement by the end of the fall term in the sophomore year will result in separation from the College.
A CSS student, like any major, may leave the CSS to take up a different course of study. Some of the CSS courses taken by a student who leaves are usually credited toward the major in an appropriate department. A CSS major may also major in another department simultaneously (a “double major”).
Colloquium (required; 1 credit):
Modern Social Theory
Tutorials (all required; taken one at a time; 1.5 credits each):
Topics in the History of Economic Thought
State and Society in the Modern Age
The Emergence of Modern Europe
Goals of Sophomore Year: Sophomore year, commonly seen as the core of the CSS program, provides a broad base of knowledge in each of the major’s disciplines: Economics, Government, History, and Philosophy. The tutorials and colloquium provide connected accounts of the emergence of modern social, economic, and political systems. Students learn to think critically from a social science perspective and to draw interdisciplinary connections among the topics of study. Weekly tutorial essays develop conceptual and analytical skills as well as precision in writing and argument. The small size of the tutorials allows students to become well acquainted with each other, thereby inspiring a social and intellectual atmosphere which, in turn, fosters group and peer learning outside the classroom. Informal group study provides a sense of community often lacking in other majors.
The Sophomore Colloquium: All CSS sophomores together take a semester-long colloquium in Social Theory (CSS 271) in the fall semester. The course traces the development of modern social theory from Hobbes to Freud. It meets weekly, and it is preceded by a weekly preceptorial meeting. Assignments usually include short written work each week. Recent tutors, who include Sonali Chakravarti, Donald Moon and Cecilia Miller, have assigned two- to three-page written exercises or in-class essays.
The Sophomore Tutorials: Tutorial work is organized into three “trimesters” of eight weeks each. During each trimester the thirty sophomores are divided into three tutorial groups of ten, each studying one of three disciplines (Economics, Government and History). Students move on to a new discipline each trimester, and by the end of the year all students will have had all three tutorials, though not in the same order. The work load is heavy, and each tutorial accordingly carries 1.5 course credits (for a total of 4.5 from the three tutorials). Tutorial groups meet weekly for discussion with their tutors, each student bringing a five- to seven-page essay analyzing the week’s reading assignment. The essays are not graded, but they are returned with extensive comments.
Each week the students in a tutorial meet with a preceptor prior to writing the weekly essay. The preceptor is a CSS junior or senior who helps tutorial members with their writing and their understanding of the subject matter. The preceptorial meeting is invaluable to the students, since it is the first time they can ask questions and test out ideas about the week's reading.
The Economics Tutorial (CSS 220) focuses on the historical development of economic thought from mercantilism through Keynes and Schumpeter. Richard Adelstein, Joyce Jacobsen, Wendy Rayack, and Gilbert Skillman have taught this tutorial recently. The Government Tutorial (CSS 230) explores the evolution of states, civil society, and political movements in the modern age, including absolutist, liberal, democratic, fascist, and communist systems. Recent tutors have been Giulio Gallarotti, Anne Peters, Peter Rutland, Nancy Schwartz, and Sarah Wiliarty. The History Tutorial (CSS 240) concentrates on the development of modern Europe from the French Revolution and Industrialization to the age of imperialism, the two world wars and postwar reconstruction. Recent tutors include Richard Elphick, Erik Grimmer-Solem, Cecilia Miller, and Victoria-Smolkin Rothrock.
Evaluation: No grades are given on the weekly written work of CSS sophomores, but the papers are marked up carefully, and there is much feedback. The weekly tutorial papers also receive comments on content and writing style from the tutor and often from the preceptor as well. In Social Theory the tutor sometimes grades the papers on an informal scale to enable students to gauge their progress.
At the end of each tutorial and the colloquium, the tutor provides each student with a written (and often an oral) evaluation of his or her performance in the class. The written evaluations are filed with the CSS office, with a copy provided to the student. These evaluations may be consulted by other tutors and the program’s Chairs when they need to know something of a student’s past academic performance, perhaps in order to write a letter of recommendation or to consider a student for an academic award.
Absence and Late Papers: Sophomores must attend all tutorials with a completed paper. Likewise, they must attend every session of the colloquium and submit its assignments when due. Absence from classes undermines a common learning experience, and failure to finish papers on time breaks the chain of effort and feedback on which the tutorial method depends.
Absence from any sophomore tutorial or the colloquium for any reason or failure to complete a paper on time will be reported to the CSS co-chairs and will result in the student being placed on warning within the major. A second absence within that tutorial or the colloquium for any reason will result in the student being put under review. Depending on the circumstances, a review for failure to attend class can result in separation from the CSS major. http://www.wesleyan.edu/css/formajors/latepapers.html.
Outside Courses: Since the work of the CSS sophomore year carries five and a half Wesleyan course credits, students normally take one credit outside the College in the first semester and two in the second semester. A student who has not yet fulfilled the economics requirement must complete this work before the end of sophomore year. Otherwise students may choose freely among outside courses. In fact, it is recommended that students explore areas other than the social sciences as a break from the focused sophomore curriculum; and to encourage this, letter grades received in outside courses taken by a CSS student in the sophomore year are converted to CR/U (pass/fail) marks on the transcript. In order to enable this conversion, students register for regular A-F credit and then submit a Request for CR/U Grade Conversion form signed by both the instructor and student. This signed form must be received by the CSS office before the end of Drop/Add. The only grade that will be recorded for sophomore year on the student’s transcript is the grade on the comprehensive exams taken in late April/early May.
It is never too early to begin thinking about a senior thesis, and familiarity with some basic quantitative and critical interpretive techniques used in describing and explaining social phenomena will offer valuable preparation. Adequately prepared CSS sophomores may therefore consider taking one of the following courses: ECON 300, GOVT 201/SOC 257/PSYC 280/QAC 201, HIST 362, PSYC 200, or SOC 202. Other CSS sophomores may want to go deeper into the philosophical and historical bases of the social sciences by taking courses in the philosophical classics, and/or ancient and modern history.
General Education: Due to the heavy load of required courses for CSS sophomores, students are not required to fulfill Stage 1 expectations by the end of sophomore year. But they must satisfy them and be on their way toward Stage 2 by the end of the junior year.
Sophomore Comprehensive Examinations: At the end of sophomore year, CSS sophomores take comprehensive exams designed to measure their proficiency in each of the subject areas—Economics, Government, History, and Social Theory—that make up the sophomore year program. The overall grade a student receives on the comps is the only grade that appears on a CSS student’s academic transcript for the entire sophomore year.
Review for the Comps: Review for the comprehensive exams traditionally fills the off-hours of a CSS sophomore from shortly after spring break until the exams begin. The custom is for the sophomores to form themselves into four- or five-person study groups which share the review of the year’s materials. Although studying focuses on these groups, it is by no means confined to them, and often several groups combine their efforts and share ideas. Recently, some study materials have even been put on the Web.
Format of the Comps: The comprehensive examinations consist of a week-long series of take-home exams in the four disciplines, followed by an oral examination. The order of the four exams is publicized well in advance. The first written examination usually begins at the start of the second semester reading period. Exams run from 2:00 p.m. on one day to 2:00 p.m. on the next day, with 24 hours off before the next exam starts. Students over the years have found that they prefer this schedule to any workable alternative.
On each 24-hour exam, the student chooses two (usually) from among several essay topics and writes a five-page paper on each of the two. There may be more or fewer questions to answer, but there is always a choice. The essays each student submits may total no more than ten typed pages for each exam. Students may consult books or notes, but they may not discuss the essays with each other during the 24 hours of the exam. Although each exam is in a specific subject area, students are encouraged to use materials from all of their CSS tutorials and the colloquium in answering the essay questions. Specific interdisciplinary questions are sometimes asked, with advance notice.
The written examinations are timed take-home exams, and students have more than enough time to meet all of their outside class requirements while completing them in the time available. If some faculty members are willing to accommodate sophomores during comps by offering alternative assignment or exam dates, they are within their discretion, but by no means obliged, to do so. Skipping class or requesting excused absences during comps is unacceptable. Such absences undermine the quality of those classes and threaten the privilege of an ungraded sophomore year.
Oral examinations are conducted by four external examiners with expertise in one or more of the disciplines a week after the written exams end. The examiners meet jointly with each student, and pose questions based on the student’s examination answers. Not every examiner necessarily has questions to ask each student, although it is expected that at least two of the four examiners will. No grade is lowered as a result of the oral examination, though ambiguous provisional grades like B/B+ can go either way. Grades can be and often are raised after the oral exam.
Grading of the Comps: Grades for the comprehensive exams are usually made available late on the second day of orals. Each student receives a letter grade for his or her performance in each subject area (reflecting the written and oral examination in that subject); these grades are reported to the student and go into his or her CSS file. In addition, there is a comprehensive grade for the exams; this is the only grade reported on the student's transcript.
Comprehensive grades are given on the CSS’s own scale: High Distinction, Distinction, Commendable, Satisfactory, Conditional Pass, and Unsatisfactory. The student’s average grade from the four exams is the greatest factor in the overall grade, but the general distribution of grades across the class also has its effect, as do any obvious break points between clusters of students. Normally High Distinction represents an exam performance near to an A; Distinction roughly represents other Honors grades (A- and B+); Commendable covers the middle and lower B range and the upper C range; and Satisfactory indicates an acceptable performance of roughly C or C-. Conditional Pass goes to students whose performance was unsatisfactory in a particular field, and who must undergo reexamination in that field. Students who receive Unsatisfactory must withdraw from the major.
The exams should not be seen as competitive in any unusual way. No set percentage (or even approximate percentage) of a class receives a particular comprehensive grade, such as Distinction. In most years the modal grade has been Commendable and only a minority of grades have been in the Distinction to High Distinction range.
It is also important to remember that the comprehensive exam grade is only one of the ways in which performance in sophomore year is assessed. The evaluations received by each student from the tutorials and the colloquium sometimes give a better account of a student's overall work and achievement. Tutors rely upon these evaluations to prepare letters of recommendation for graduate and professional schools, and in nominating students for prizes and fellowships.
Colloquium (required; 1 credit):
Contemporary Social and Political Theory
Tutorials in Economics, Government and History (subject matter varies; students choose two out of three; taken one at a time; 1 credit each)
Goals of Junior Year: The CSS junior curriculum is intended both to build on the foundation laid in sophomore year, and to broaden students' perspectives on the social sciences. Specific linkages between the sophomore and junior curricula are established by the tutors. Junior year also continues to encourage development of analytical and writing skills. Letter grades are given for junior courses in the College (unlike sophomore courses), and they appear on the transcript.
In the second semester, students take a Philosophy colloquium, studying the different modes of inquiry in the social sciences. Additionally, students choose seven-week tutorials in two of the three CSS tutorial disciplines, and take these one after the other.
The Junior Colloquium: In the junior Philosophy colloquium (CSS 371), students examine the social sciences from a critical perspective. The course introduces problems of interpretation and understanding as they occur in social studies, building on the intellectual experiences of sophomore year and using further examples from Anthropology and Sociology, among others disciplines. Several short papers are assigned. Recent tutors have been Stephen Angle and Brian Fay.
The Junior Tutorials: The Economics, Government and History tutorials offered in the second semester (CSS 320, 330 and 340) focus on the years since the Second World War, often extending the area under study beyond the West. While the topics covered vary from year to year, major themes include the increasing globalization of cultural, economic, and political processes; the retreat of European colonial empires; changing strategies of development among less-developed countries; the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe; and the emergence of growing challenges to the welfare and regulatory state in advanced industrial societies. Essays in the tutorials tend to be less frequent and longer than in sophomore year, and they may incorporate some research. Recent tutors (in addition to those mentioned under the sophomore tutorials) have included John Bonin, John Finn, William Johnston, and Ronald Schatz.
Evaluation: Unlike sophomore work, junior year courses are graded on the usual scale of A to F. Juniors may take other courses either graded or CR/U if the instructor offers this choice. The results in all courses will be recorded on the transcript by the Registrar's Office in the usual way.
Outside Courses: Juniors may not know their senior thesis or project topic a year ahead of time, but it is wise to be thinking about it and, if you have some ideas, to take some appropriate courses. Without the basic courses in a particular discipline (especially if it is one like Sociology that is not in the CSS), you may find it not only hard to do good work, but also difficult to find a thesis advisor or senior project tutor. Especially if you have a particular advisor in mind who is not in the CSS, plan to make contact with him or her well before your senior year.
Juniors are also encouraged to familiarize themselves with some basic quantitative and critical interpretive techniques used in describing and explaining social phenomena in preparation for senior thesis research. Relevant courses include ECON 300, GOVT 201/SOC 257/PSYC 280/QAC 201, HIST 362, PSYC 200, or SOC 202. Juniors may also want to go deeper into the philosophical and historical bases of the social sciences by taking courses in the philosophical classics, and/or ancient and modern history.
Experience shows that students who arrive at senior year without having written long research papers may have difficulty with theses and senior projects. While the junior tutorials make a small start, you should plan to take some outside courses such as upper-level seminars that require a major research paper.
General Education: Juniors who have not done so already should fulfill Stage 1 expectations by the end of junior year and Stage 2 by the end of senior year. Students who have not completed the General Education distribution expectation of Stage 1 by the end of the sophomore year must, by the start of preregistration that spring for junior year, submit a plan to their advisor and the CSS co-chairs for approval for completing the expectations of both Stage 1 and Stage 2 by graduation.
Study Abroad: Members of the College have the option of taking time away from Wesleyan in the first semester of their junior year. Typically half or more of the CSS junior class chooses to study abroad for the semester, in all corners of the world. CSS students going abroad are subject to the usual Wesleyan requirements; there are no special CSS requirements. CSS students abroad are not working for major credit, and they can follow their interests to the limits of what their international study program offers.
Research Grant Opportunities: Juniors (and sophomores) are eligible to apply for Davenport Study grants for summer research on topics related to public affairs. These grants are administered through the Public Affairs Center. See for details http://www.wesleyan.edu/pac/davenport/index.html. CSS Juniors are also eligible for consideration for the David A. Titus Memorial Prize, which was established by family, friends, and students in memory of Professor and CSS Tutor David Titus. This prize supports the summer studies of a deserving Wesleyan junior majoring in Government, East Asian Studies, or the College of Social Studies.
Colloquium (subject matter varies; required; 1 credit)
Research Requirement (students must complete either an honors thesis for 2 credits or a senior project for 1 credit)
Goals of Senior Year: Senior year in the CSS builds on the academic experience gained in sophomore and junior years by directing the student’s major efforts toward a substantial piece of writing (a thesis or senior project). In addition to this, all seniors take a colloquium in the first semester that reconsiders issues raised in the sophomore and junior tutorials and colloquia as well as presenting new concepts.
The Senior Colloquium: The senior colloquium (CSS 391), the second and last time that the entire class meets together in a course, re-examines some themes of the CSS education following two years of intensive study. It allows students to look back on their CSS academic experience, re-evaluate some important lessons and concepts from sophomore and junior years, and apply their understanding to new subject matter. The colloquium is also an opportunity for the senior class to reacquaint themselves with one another. Following junior year, which sees many students traveling abroad, the senior colloquium provides an academic forum where students can restore and strengthen the intellectual community of their class.
The subject matter varies with the professor. In recent years the course has examined such subjects as ”Political Economy,” “Capitalism and Democracy,” and “Order and Planning in Industrial America.” Recent tutors have included Marc Eisner, Peter Rutland, and Gilbert Skillman. Students are asked to take theoretical material with which they are familiar and apply it to other areas or periods. The colloquium concentrates less on writing and more on reflecting on concepts and themes from sophomore and junior years.
The Senior Research Requirement: The other major component of senior year is the research requirement, which may be fulfilled by either an honors thesis (two semesters) or a senior project (one semester). Both options provide an opportunity for the student to apply the skills learned in sophomore and junior years to independent extended research culminating in a thesis or long essay. Seniors choose topics within social science or related disciplines, subject to approval by the CSS Co-Chairs, to whom senior thesis and project proposals must be sent by a deadline set in the senior year program. Different types of theses and projects are possible, but all must be in written form (that is, they cannot be performances or exhibitions). The production of a substantial piece of writing is seen as the culmination of the senior's studies.
Honors Thesis: An Honors thesis in Social Studies is subject to the rules and procedures that apply to all Honors theses. Work on a thesis spans senior year; it earns a student two credits for the fall and spring thesis tutorials (CSS 409 and 410, respectively) which the student arranges with a faculty member who agrees to advise the thesis. It is up to the student to find a thesis advisor, who need not be a regular CSS tutor—there is no default CSS thesis advisor. At the end of senior year the advisor assigns the tutorials a grade that is separate from the award of Honors (explained below).
The CSS does not require a minimum GPA for undertaking an Honors thesis, but it has other special expectations of Honors candidates. In the middle of the fall semester the CSS holds "thesis workshops" where thesis writers must present their ideas to the rest of the senior class and assorted faculty members. Students submit short papers for other students to read in advance of the workshops, and they make brief oral presentations. A workshop session is meant to inform interested members of the community about the proposed study, to stimulate an interdisciplinary critique and defense of the proposal, and to provide the thesis writer with a wide range of advice at an early stage of inquiry.
A draft of a substantial part of the thesis (typically a full chapter) should be ready for initial evaluation by the thesis advisor in the middle of December. Another substantial piece should be ready by late January, as well as an outline of the remainder of the body of the thesis. At this time an evaluation is made of whether the thesis is progressing satisfactorily. If the progress made to this point does not point to success, the student is expected (1) to drop the thesis tutorial in the second semester and replace it with an appropriate course, and (2) to work up the unfinished thesis into an acceptable senior project, with no additional credit.
Honors theses are due in early to mid-April, on a date set each year by the faculty’s Honors Committee.
Evaluation of the Thesis: Each thesis is evaluated by the advisor and two additional readers, one chosen from within the CSS and one from outside. A CSS Tutors’ meeting appoints the readers after consultation with the thesis advisor.
The thesis advisor and readers write critiques of the thesis and make recommendations of High Honors, Honors, or No Honors. Normally an award of Honors corresponds to a grade of B+ or A-, and High Honors corresponds to a grade of A. An additional reader is sometimes called in to resolve differences. The CSS tutors then meet and confirm the results. Each thesis writer receives written notification of the results, along with a copy of the written critiques.
Senior Project: Students who do not undertake an Honors thesis must design a senior project with a coherent theme, approved by one of the Co-Chairs. Such a project may be completed by enrollment in coursework (usually an advanced seminar in a social science discipline or related field) or through independent study guided by an individual tutorial (CSS 401 or 402) offered by a CSS tutor or other faculty member. Students who opt to complete a senior project are responsible for making arrangements with an instructor to complete their senior project within a course or finding a senior essay tutor. Either way, the senior project should culminate in a substantial piece of critical writing which brings out the scope and coherence of the project. Senior projects may be completed in the fall or spring of senior year depending on the course to be taken or availability of the essay tutor. The project is due either in mid December or early May, respectively. A student who opts to complete a senior project is not eligible to receive a degree with Honors. A senior project normally earns one credit, with a grade awarded by the tutor or course instructor.
Evaluation: As in junior year, CSS courses (including thesis and individual tutorials) are graded on the usual scale of A to F. Seniors may take other courses graded or not, if the instructor offers a choice, and the results will be recorded on the transcript accordingly by the Registrar's Office. For the senior thesis tutorials, thesis advisors can give a provisional grade of X in the fall, as a placeholder until the thesis is completed. The X grade will then be revised to a letter grade in the spring by the thesis advisor. Note that the honors designation of the thesis and the grades received in thesis tutorials have no automatic relationship; honors is determined by the reading committee, while your tutorial grades are determined solely by your thesis advisor. Senior projects completed through individual essay tutorial or through coursework will be evaluated for letter grade credit by the relevant tutor or instructor. A copy of the senior project must also be submitted to the CSS co-chairs by the deadline given in the Senior Year Program to determine fulfillment of the senior research requirement.
General Education: In order to graduate with a CSS major, seniors must complete both the Stage 1 and 2 general education expectations by the end of senior year. Rising seniors who have not achieved Stage 2 must consult with their advisor and submit a plan for completion to the CSS co-chairs by the beginning of the fall semester.
Transcripts: The Registrar's Office prepares transcripts using a special format for CSS students. Seniors should check their transcript before having it sent off with applications for jobs or graduate school; things sometimes get lost in the shuffle, especially transfer credits (for example, from overseas programs), completion of incompletes, clearing of X grades, and audits.
Social Activities: General interaction of CSS students is facilitated by the CSS lounge and library, both on the fourth floor of the Public Affairs Center. The College also holds many scheduled events to further the social interaction of students and tutors.
All students and tutors of CSS are expected to attend the weekly Monday luncheons, held in recent years in the Woodhead Lounge in the Science Tower. Lunch is usually followed by a speaker, often a visitor from off-campus, a professor from another department who presents his or her current work, or a CSS alumnus. Every member of the College pays a charge (currently $60 a semester) to cover these luncheons. Exemptions from the charge are granted to those who have classes that meet during the Monday lunch hour, but CSS students are strongly discouraged from taking courses scheduled at this time.
The CSS tutorials on Friday afternoon are followed at 4:00 p.m. by the weekly social hour in the CSS lounge. This is another chance for students and tutors to interact outside the classroom. Refreshments are served, supported by CSS dues (currently $40 a semester).
The CSS also sponsors two banquets a year for CSS students, tutors and guests. Dinner is held at the Inn at Middletown, and the evening ends with a prominent speaker. In December, at a Holiday party held during reading week, students and tutors meet in the CSS lounge and students present skits about the College. Finally, there is an annual CSS picnic, usually just after the sophomore comprehensive exams in early May.
Student Participation in Governance: The CSS House Committee, composed of three representatives from each class, works as a liaison between the CSS tutors and students. The members, elected by their peers each year, address concerns and help implement changes, as well as assisting with the organization of social activities for the College. On occasion an all-College meeting of tutors and students is summoned to deal with larger issues of policy and curriculum. Through the years both the House Committee and all-College meetings have been important in bringing productive innovation to the CSS.
Student Participation in Recruiting and Admission: CSS students are important participants in the yearly admission process. They facilitate recruiting by participating in dormitory visits and panel discussions. Students join tutors in interviewing the applicants and recording their evaluations. Other students are invited to contribute their knowledge of any of the applicants on the posted list. The information gathered in this way is important to the admission decisions made by the tutors.
Other Procedures and Concerns
Faculty Advisors: A CSS sophomore’s faculty advisor for the year is the tutor of the student’s first-trimester tutorial. In later years the tutor who served as a student’s faculty advisor in sophomore year continues in the role if he or she is still available. Otherwise, the student will be assigned a new faculty advisor from among available CSS tutors.
Tutorial Conduct and Late Paper Policy: Regular class attendance and keeping up with one's work are even more crucial in the CSS than in other major programs. Because sophomore tutorials are multiple-credit classes which meet for only two hours a week, missing a single tutorial is like missing weeks of a regular 50-minute class. This is a collegial program; classes are for the exchange of ideas and insights, so missing class affects not only the absent student, but the other participants as well. Moreover, because papers are due every week, it is very difficult to catch up once one has fallen behind. The College has adopted a set of procedures for dealing with late work, of which the main points are:
1. Attendance at class is mandatory. A student who cannot come to class for any reason should contact the tutor ahead of time and explain the circumstances. A student who must miss class frequently, for any reason, may be asked to resign from the program.
2. Papers must be finished before class and brought to class. Occasionally, students may not be able to print papers before class; in that case, they should come with notes and plan to give the paper to the tutor within an hour or two of the end of class. If for any reason a student cannot bring a paper to class, he or she should contact the tutor ahead of time and explain the circumstances.
3. A student who falls two papers behind must meet with the co-chairs and the tutor(s) involved to get back on track. In general, someone who falls behind is asked to put the late papers to one side and stay current with on-going work, and to make up the missing papers during breaks in the semester or between semesters.
Economics Requirement: The CSS economics requirement is fulfilled by completing either ECON 101 and one 200-level Economics course with a C+ or better for the two classes averaged together, or ECON 110 with a grade of C+ or better. AP exams in both microeconomics and macroeconomics with scores of 4 or 5 will also meet the requirement, as will an IB exam in economics with a score of 5 or higher. Students who have taken no economics and do not have a year of college-level calculus should enroll in ECON 101 in the fall semester of the sophomore year. A second Economics course (usually at the 200 level) should be taken in the spring semester. Alternately, students who have had calculus may enroll in ECON 110 in the fall of the sophomore year.
General Education: CSS students are not pressed to fulfill Stage 1 of the General Education Expectations by the end of sophomore year because of their heavy schedule; but should Stage 1 remain unmet at that point, they must submit a plan to their advisor and the CSS co-chairs for approval for completing the expectations of both Stage 1 and Stage 2 by graduation. The fulfillment of the General Education Expectations to Stage 2 is a requirement for graduating with a CSS major.
Transcripts: Transcripts for CSS students, maintained by the Registrar's Office, list all courses that a student has taken at, or transferred to, Wesleyan (including Wesleyan-sponsored programs). For sophomore year, the transcript shows no course grades, even when a course was taken for a grade. The only grade displayed for the year is the grade from the sophomore comprehensive exam, expressed on the CSS’s unique scale (see above under “Sophomore Year”). The transcript goes out with a sheet explaining the nature of the program and interpreting the comprehensive examination grades.
Grade Point Average and Class Rank: The transcripts of CSS students show neither a GPA nor a class rank; the lack of sophomore grades would make rankings misleading at best. Be warned, though, that some testing services and universities will calculate a GPA from graded courses on the transcript. Sometimes, for purposes such as Phi Beta Kappa and other awards (such as prizes), the Co-Chairs of the College will calculate an informal GPA drawing on inside CSS knowledge of sophomore year performance. Individual faculty may also do so in writing letters of recommendation, while emphasizing that such estimates must be understood as informal, intended as qualitative guides for selection committees.
Honors: CSS seniors will graduate with either Honors or High Honors only if they complete an honors thesis that is graded similarly. Seniors whose thesis is graded High Honors and who have outstanding academic performance both within and outside of the major may be nominated by the CSS for University Honors, which is Wesleyan’s highest honor designation. The faculty’s Honors Committee considers nominations and decides whether or not to interview the student and whether or not to award the student University Honors.
Prizes: CSS students are eligible for consideration for several prizes. The tutors decide on nominations for these awards, and may also choose to nominate students for university-wide prizes (such as the Butterfield Prize).
The Joan W. Miller Prize is awarded annually for the outstanding honors thesis in the CSS.
The David Morgan Prize is awarded annually to the senior major or majors in CSS and/or History who best demonstrate the integrity and commitment to community that characterized David’s 37 years of service to his College, his Department, and to the University.
Juniors are eligible for consideration for the David A. Titus Memorial Prize, which was established by family, friends, and students in memory of Professor and CSS Tutor David Titus. This prize supports the summer studies of a deserving Wesleyan junior majoring in CSS, East Asian Studies, or Government.
The Hallowell Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding senior in the study of social science, as determined by the Governing Board of the Public Affairs Center. See http://www.wesleyan.edu/pac/Hallowell.html.
Phi Beta Kappa: Phi Beta Kappa is an independent honor society, not officially part of the University, and members are elected by vote of the local chapter. The CSS nominates students for membership based on performance both within and outside of the major, like other departments; no more than 12 percent of the graduating class may be elected members of Phi Beta Kappa. Only those students whose academic work is excellent and who have completed Stage 1 and 2 general education expectations are elected. Only students who originally matriculated at Wesleyan and who have completed Stage 1 and Stage 2 already are eligible for fall election, when a distinguished handful of seniors are chosen (usually fewer than 15). In the spring election, transfer students are also eligible for election, and persons who are currently enrolled in their last general education course will also be considered.
Degree Requirements: To complete the CSS major and graduate with a degree in Social Studies a student must successfully complete all the required CSS tutorials, colloquia and seminars; finish the senior research requirement (honors thesis or senior project) to a satisfactory standard; and meet other specified requirements, like those in Economics and General Education. A student who fails a CSS course will normally be asked to leave the College, as will a student who falls too far behind in the fulfillment of other requirements.
CSS graduates have gone on to do many things, from carpentry to teaching, from the arts to medicine. Many have gone into law or business, careers which obviously relate to a training in social studies. Many have gone on to graduate school in academic disciplines and then on to academic careers, while others have studied public management and gone into government service.
Many CSS graduates are outstandingly loyal, to the College itself and to Wesleyan. In recent years there have typically been four or five members of the Wesleyan Board of Trustees whose degrees were in Social Studies. The tutors enjoy seeing these and other graduates on campus whenever they can come. Each year on Reunion and Commencement Weekend the CSS holds a reception in the lounge for its new crop of graduates and their parents, followed by a reception for alumni.
Sophomore Social Theory Colloquium: 1 credit
Sophomore Tutorials (three): 1.5 credits each
Sophomore Year Total: 5.5 credits
Junior Colloquium: 1 credit
Junior Tutorials (two): 1 credit each
Junior Year Total: 3 credits
Senior Seminar: 1 credit
Senior Project or Honors Thesis: 1 or 2 credits
Senior Year Total: 2 or 3 credits
Total CSS Credits: 10.5 (Project) or 11.5 (Thesis)