The Connections Program (“Connections”) is Connecticut College’s integrative general education experience. Connections consists of courses designated as First-Year Seminars, ConnCourses, Modes of Inquiry, Social Difference and Power, World Languages and Cultures, and Writing Across the Curriculum. Connections also includes the academic and co-curricular experiences of Center Certificate Programs, the Museum Studies Certificate Program, Integrative Pathways, and the All-College Symposium.
I. First-Year Seminars
All first-year students must enroll in a First-Year Seminar (FYS) course during their initial semester at Connecticut College. The FYS instructor will work with an advising team and shall serve as each student’s adviser until the student declares a major. The seminar includes a weekly Common Experience Meeting that will be used weekly for advising, workshops, events connecting clusters, extended orientation, and other relevant purposes.
- Include assignments intended to foster effective writing, oral communication, and library research skills. Such assignments will be supported by staff and faculty in the Academic Resource Center, the Roth Writing Center, and the library.
- Provide at least one opportunity for social engagement and community building among students, faculty, and staff during the course of the semester.
- Integrate discussions of the liberal arts and the mission and core values of the College into the content of the course.
All students are be required to complete one designated ConnCourse for graduation. This course should be completed within the first two years of study. Transfer students entering Connecticut College with 56 credits or more are exempt from this requirement.
ConnCourses give students the opportunity to connect areas of the liberal arts and explore different modes of thinking. Working in an intellectually stimulating and exciting environment, students from all backgrounds make lasting connections across fields of study and to the world beyond the classroom. ConnCourses create an environment of full participation that cultivates academic excellence and encourages an integrative approach to learning and problem-solving. In these courses, students develop fundamental skills that can be applied throughout their studies. ConnCourses instill deep intellectual curiosity and desire for lifelong learning.
Requirements of ConnCourses
- ConnCourses may be offered at either the 100 or the 200 level.
- ConnCourses may not have prerequisites, with the exception of ConnCourses that are taught in a language other than English.
- ConnCourses must carry at least four credits and must be taken for a letter grade. All ConnCourses must contain each of the following learning goals:
- Students will examine how knowledge is constructed in a field of study, while exploring how areas in the liberal arts interact and shape each other.
- Students will place course concepts in the context of the world beyond the classroom.
- Students will examine issues or engage with problems that will help them develop as ethical, responsible global citizens. Students will engage closely with diverse forms of information that present different ways of thinking
III. Social Difference and Power
In Social Difference and Power courses, students will develop: deeper analyses of social identity and difference; a more informed understanding of systemic forms of inequality and underlying structures of power; and their disproportionate impact on underrepresented and/or marginalized peoples and communities. Importantly, these courses will provide students with opportunities to put the liberal arts into action and develop the necessary skills for a 21st-century world. Students will be required to complete two courses that have been given the Social Difference and Power designation. Transfer students entering Connecticut College with 56 credits or more and students in dual-degree programs requiring a year or more of off-campus study are only required to complete one such course.
IV. Integrative Pathways
Students will have the option of enrolling in an Integrative Pathway. Designed and implemented by interdisciplinary groups of faculty members, Pathways offer students an opportunity to achieve academic integration within a broad intellectual framework. Every Pathway is organized around a central theme, in relation to which students will consider an animating question that provides a focus for their work.
Each Integrative Pathway consists of four principal components:
- Thematic Inquiry: Every student must take a designated course that presents the theme and provides an overview of the Pathway.
- Curricular Itinerary: These three courses, taken in a variety of departments and disciplines, allow students to explore the theme of the Pathway in light of their animating questions.
- Global/Local Engagement: Each Pathway requires students to pursue purposeful engagement in a local or international context, such as study away, an internship, or community-based learning.
- Senior Reflection: Each Pathway provides an opportunity during the fall of the senior year for students to reflect on the different elements of their Pathway, in the context of their overall undergraduate experience. This component is connected to an All-College Symposium, at which students will share their responses to their animating questions with the wider College community.
In most circumstances, students will officially join an Integrative Pathway no later than the end of the fall semester of the sophomore year, with the Thematic Inquiry typically taken during the spring of the sophomore year. Students entering the College as juniors will have the opportunity to join a Pathway at the time of matriculation. Students are required to take a minimum of four courses as part of their Pathway (including the Thematic Inquiry), as well as the Global/Local Engagement and Senior Reflection. Within the Pathway, students must take courses in at least three different Modes of Inquiry, each within a different department. Students may count courses toward the Curricular Itinerary that were taken prior to the Thematic Inquiry. All courses for the Pathway should be completed no later than the fall semester of the senior year. Only one course may be counted in common between a Pathway and a major or between a Pathway and a minor. All courses being counted for a Pathway must be taken at Connecticut College or a comparable institution. Courses taken at other institutions must be approved by the Pathway’s core faculty group.
Students who have enrolled in a Center or Museum Studies Certificate Program and have completed all the required coursework must complete courses in four Modes of Inquiry, taken in different departments.
V. Modes of Inquiry
A. Creative Expression
The practice of various art forms – at times including research, dialogue, creation, and performance – enables students to broaden their imagination, while also enhancing their ability to explore and interpret the vast array of human experiences. This process can occur in many forms, including performing arts, visual arts, creative writing, architecture, and media arts. Creative Expression courses provide students with tools that enhance reflexivity and cultural awareness and facilitate the ability to express ideas.
B. Critical Interpretation and Analysis
This Mode of Inquiry fosters the ability to interpret and analyze the aesthetic, ethical, conceptual, linguistic, and cultural significance of objects of study. Courses in Critical Interpretation and Analysis have, as their primary focus, serious and sustained engagement with and writing about texts of various kinds – photographs, films, novels, plays, poems, primary documents, critical and theoretical essays, works of music and art, among others.
C. Quantitative and Formal Reasoning
The processes of interpreting and analyzing quantitative information and symbolic systems are required to understand society, the world, and the universe. Students will engage in this Mode of Inquiry through creative problem-solving, modeling natural or social phenomena, investigating logical systems, and analyzing numerical data.
D. Scientific Inquiry and Analysis
Scientific approaches are essential to addressing many of the issues facing our world. Students should engage in evidence-based problem-solving that explores processes in the physical world. This involves the abilities to develop hypotheses, make empirical observations, analyze data and evaluate results within the context of a theoretical framework of a scientific field. Courses in this Mode will engage students in how scientific knowledge is produced and in the ways that this knowledge intersects with society.
E. Social and Historical Inquiry
This Mode of Inquiry examines the diverse ways that human societies are organized as well as the complexity of the human experience across history. Courses designated as Social and Historical Inquiry will include exposure to the variety of methodologies and theories (empirical, interpretive, humanist, narrative) designed to investigate human interaction across time and space. Students will consider social, political, economic, and other cultural influences on human interactions with attention to language and structures of power and privilege, especially as manifested through race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, age, and ability.
Students enrolled in an Integrative Pathway must complete courses in at least four of the five Modes of Inquiry, at least three of which must be within their Pathway. Students not enrolled in a Pathway are required to complete courses in all five Modes. In all cases, the Modes of Inquiry must be taken in different departments (as defined by the course designations). Every course being counted for a Mode of Inquiry must receive a letter grade, be worth at least four credits (or its equivalent), and be taken at Connecticut College or a comparable institution. First-year Seminars and ConnCourses may be counted towards the Modes of Inquiry, in the same manner as other courses. An individual course may be listed under two separate Modes of Inquiry, although each student may only count it toward a single Mode.
VI. World Languages and Cultures
As Connecticut College students actively engage in global communities, both domestically and internationally, it is imperative that they develop an ability to empathize, communicate, and collaborate with others from diverse cultures in their own languages. The study of world languages and cultures, present and past, provides a unique catalyst for fostering a mode of critical thinking that creates true cultural understanding, one that recognizes relationships shaped by power, privilege, identity, and social location.
As a foundation for incorporating world languages and cultures into students’ academic programs, each student will complete a minimum of two semesters of study of the same language at any level, either at Connecticut College or at a comparable institution. Normally, language courses will be completed by the end of the sophomore year so that students may incorporate and deepen their knowledge in culminating work in the junior and senior years. Transfer students entering Connecticut College with 56 credits or more are required to complete one semester of language study, either at Connecticut College or a comparable institution.
Additionally, students will work with advisers to apply their language study to scholarship and other activities that reach beyond the traditional classroom. These experiences may include, but are not limited to: study away and SATA programs with intensive language study; course TRIPS with language and culture components; certificate programs through the academic centers; science practica or internships involving international collaborations; international internships; community learning components in languages other than English; student teaching; FLAC sections; participation in the World Languages program in the New London schools; CC Language Fellow and Language Assistant positions; honors theses and Senior Integrated Projects employing research in languages other than English. These practical applications are strongly recommended to build upon the required language coursework.
Students who achieve advanced-level proficiency in a language, and who apply their language in an international or other practical context, may have this noted on their academic transcript. Students should submit a petition to this end to the Study Away Committee.
Students seeking an exemption to any component of the Connections program or other College-wide requirements, for accessibility or other personal reasons, must submit a petition to the Committee on Academic Standing. Students should first contact their class dean and, if applicable, the Office of Accessibility Services to discuss their specific situation and the details of the process.
VIII. Certificate Programs
Certificate Programs provide focused interdisciplinary curricular and co-curricular experiences through the Academic Centers or the Museum Studies Program. The Certificate Programs have their own unique curricular and staffing infrastructures that are consistent with their mission and program. Students who have enrolled in a Center or Museum Studies Certificate Program and have completed all the required coursework must complete courses in four Modes of Inquiry, taken in different departments.