The Liberal Studies Curriculum
Under the Liberal Studies Curriculum, the first-year students are required to take a First-Year Seminar. These courses are planned and taught by one or more members of the Faculty as a way to introduce students to liberal studies through a range of innovative and often interdisciplinary approaches. The subject matter of the courses varies, as do the capabilities they seek to encourage. Each seminar constitutes an inquiry-based introduction to critical thinking and active learning at the college level. To achieve this goal, all courses have an enrollment limit of approximately 15 students and provide discussion-based classes, writing attentive instruction with frequent and varied assignments, close reading and critical interpretation of written texts, and careful attention to the analysis of argument in speech and writing. Courses offered for fall 2021.
Amherst’s liberal studies curriculum is based on a concept of education as a process or activity rather than a form of production. The curriculum provides a structure within which each student may confront the meaning of his or her education, and does it without imposing a particular course or subject on all students. Students are encouraged to continue to seek diversity and attempt integration through their course selection and to discuss this with their advisors.
Under the curriculum, most members of the Faculty serve as academic advisors to students. Every student has a College Advisor until the student declares a major, no later than the end of the sophomore year; thereafter each student will have a Major Advisor from the student’s field of concentration. As student and advisor together plan a student’s program, they should discuss whether the student has selected courses that:
- develop fundamental capabilities such as critical reading, written and oral expression, quantitative reasoning, and proficiency in using information resources;
- achieve breadth of understanding through study in a range of disciplines and modes of inquiry.