From a curricular perspective, Westminster's vision of a liberally educated person is achieved from a four-year integrated course of study involving general education, prescribed graduation requirements, a major, and electives. At the center of the curriculum is the common core, Liberal Studies, a course of study spanning all four years of the undergraduate experience. The entry point of Liberal Studies is Inquiry 111, a semester-long, first-year core requirement for all students. Communication skills are developed in conjunction with the Inquiry course. Students enroll in semester-long courses in writing and oral communication. The middle two years of the undergraduate experience are devoted to cluster courses and to courses satisfying prescribed Intellectual Perspective requirements. The general education curriculum culminates in a senior year capstone course in the major.
Throughout the entire curriculum, the applied use of sophisticated information technologies is emphasized in order to enhance teaching and learning, and to provide students with knowledge acquisition skills necessary for a lifetime of learning. Finally, the process of liberally educating students is completed by combining general education with in-depth course work in a major and with electives.
The Liberal Studies portion of the curriculum is the common core for all students. This program of study is a four-year series of courses crafted to foster collaborative learning and the integration of knowledge, and structured to facilitate the acquisition of learning skills and the development of a community of learners. Liberal Studies has four complementary parts, the First-Year Program, Intellectual Perspectives, Cluster Courses & Senior Capstone.
The First-Year Program at Westminster College is an innovative educational experience required of all new students. It is designed to introduce you to the philosophy and practice of a liberal arts education and equip you with skills essential to your success at college and in life beyond Westminster College. This program seeks to develop the whole student, and thus involves both academics and the social and co-curricular opportunities which support them.
The formal academic portion of the program is composed of four classes you will take over the course of your first two semesters. These classes are Westminster 101, Inquiry 111, Writing 111, and Speech 111.
WESTMINSTER 101: This course serves to introduce students to life at Westminster College and to assist them in making a successful transition to higher education. Students will learn how to take advantage of opportunities for personal and academic growth while on campus and to develop strategies for personal and academic success.
INQUIRY 111/211: Introduction to a Liberal Arts Education. Inquiry is designed to introduce students to the life of the mind and engage them in liberal learning. All first-time, full-time college students who enter Westminster College in fall semester take INQ 111 in their first semester. Transfer students and students who begin their Westminster College experience in the spring semester take Inquiry 211, which has outcomes and objectives similar to Inquiry 111, but was designed for students who have more college or life experience than traditional first-year students.
Both Inquiry courses are structured so that, following completion of the course, students will be able to:
The co-curriculum at Westminster College is a rich one. Student organizations that support your academic studies, service opportunities offered in and out of class, leadership opportunities, and internship experiences are only a few examples of all that is available to enhance and deepen your education at Westminster. Your introduction to the co-curriculum is our First Year Student Summer Reading Program. The program is a collaborative effort of the Division of Student Affairs and the Inquiry Program, and it provides an enjoyable way for our students to continue to hone their critical thinking skills during the summer through the exploration of a selected literary work.
The Intellectual Perspectives portion of the curriculum is designed to assure that all Westminster College graduates are familiar with a broad range of human intellectual endeavors and creativity. The requirements of this component of Liberal Studies are subject based and provide opportunity for students to explore significant areas of knowledge.
The seven principal areas of study are:
All students are required to complete at least four semester hours in each area. Two courses that satisfy major or minor requirements may also be used to satisfy Intellectual Perspectives. See the Westminster College class schedule, published each semester, for a list of courses which fulfill these requirements.
Cluster courses are taken during the sophomore or junior years. A cluster consists of two linked courses taught by at least two faculty from different disciplines to the same group of students. Clusters offer opportunities for students to integrate knowledge and to develop into a community of learners. All students are required to take at least one cluster (two courses). Cluster courses may also satisfy Intellectual Perspectives.
The final component of Liberal Studies is a senior capstone course. The capstone is at least a four-semester-hour course within the major designed to provide an opportunity for students to evaluate and assess the strengths and limitations of their major field. Additionally, the capstone experience permits opportunity for structured reflection on the value of education in and beyond the major and provides another chance to strengthen communication and problem-solving skills.
A sense of community is important to the people of Westminster College, so much so that we often refer to Westminster as a "family." Therefore, the development of community is an essential component of your Westminster experience and the First-Year Program. Orientation is your introduction to this community and a vital part of your social life here.