The Core Curriculum is divided into two parts. The first part is the St. Mary’s Core (SMC), a group of foundational courses which all students at St. Mary’s take. A list of these courses and their descriptions is below.
For a recommended sequence for taking all Core courses, please see the degree plan for your intended major in the Undergraduate Catalog. In the SMC, the Civilization and Reflection courses should be completed before taking the Practice courses. All SMC courses must be completed before taking the Capstone course.
SMC1301 – Foundations of Civilization. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the broad heritage of human learning and practice, both past and present, at the basis of a liberal arts education. Global and comparative in approach, this course provides students with a common body of basic knowledge concerning major world civilizations. The course is interdisciplinary in content, giving attention to historical development; to religious, philosophical, political, and psychological ideas; to literary achievements; and to social systems and their interactions and conflicts. The course provides students with an integrative, broadly historical, international perspective to serve as a background for understanding the contemporary world, including issues of American and global diversity.
*For students intending to major in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Students completing SMC 1301 will also be required to take a History course in the School Specific Core. Students who decide to change majors would not be required to take the alternate SMC 1301 course if they already took one version of it. For example, if a student changed majors from HSS to SET or BGSB and had already taken SMC1301, the student would not need to take SMC1301 again.
SMC1311W – Foundations of Reflection: Self. This course explores foundational questions about human existence and a human being’s relationship to reality. It starts with a focus on a person’s natural inclination to wonder, and on how inquiry moves persons to find intelligible meaning in experiences. It proceeds by examining the basic structure of conscious activity, which allows students to discover what they are doing when they are experiencing, understanding, knowing, and deciding. The goal of this analysis is the student’s critical self-appropriation of their own natures as knowers and doers. The course introduces the students to the origins of such systematic and critical self-appropriation in ancient Greece, in the philosophical activities of Socrates and Plato. It explores how the most basic and overarching questions about human existence that were asked by the first philosophers are still those that must be asked if people are to penetrate below the facts of everyday life to think deeply about what is real, true, valuable, just, and meaningful in human life. They include such questions as: Who am I? What is real? Can I know what is truly worthwhile? Does God exist? Does history have a meaning? What is justice? Thus the course examines how critical self-reflection illuminates human and humane living in a way crucial to personal development. This course is writing intensive.[/column]
SMC1312 – Foundations of Reflection: Nature. This course builds a foundation upon which students can understand, appreciate, and interact with the natural world. The cornerstones of this foundation are the scientific method and scientific ethics. The scientific method will be introduced as a tool to examine and reflect upon the world around us. A historical perspective of scientific discovery will be introduced. The scope of that research and the resulting implications will be considered through the lens of scientific ethics. Students will use their knowledge to design and implement an experiment. Course instructors may use examples, case studies, and additional materials pulled from the perspective of their scientific experiences or interests.
SMC1313 – Foundations of Reflection: Others. This introduction to the social sciences focuses on how human beings engage with each other in local, national and global settings. Viewed through a broad historical lens, the course will explore the political, economic, cultural, and social structures, institutions, and other forms designed by human beings in local, national and global communities that promote and constrain the common good. Students learn to distinguish differences in human communities, but also recognize the overlapping concerns, the interconnectedness, and the interdependence of the overall human experience. Students attain these goals through a systematic study of a theme which organizes the course, agreed to by participating instructors.
SMC1314W – Foundations of Reflection: God. This course presents reflection on God as it takes place in the Christian tradition. It addresses the relevance of God for understanding persons, the common good, and nature. This academic and theological reflection is informed by Scripture and the Catholic historical tradition. This course dialogues with relevant methods from the liberal arts and professional disciplines as well as contemporary questions of human experience to complement its study. It recognizes the role of principled dialogue among faith traditions as an element of theological inquiry. This course is writing intensive.
SMC 2301W – Foundations of Practice: Ethics. This course develops a unified set of concepts and skills that form the foundation of objective moral reasoning. Included among those concepts are freedom, responsibility, the particular good, the common good, and the transcendent good. It elucidates those moral structures and precepts that are not only implicit in the nature of consciousness but also necessary for the flourishing of civilization. Thus, it builds upon the central ideas from SMC1311 and SMC1301.
SMC2302 – Foundations of Practice: Civic Engagement and Social Action. Civic engagement is participation in society to effect social change in fostering the common good. As a result of this course, students will understand and appreciate the need for engagement in one’s community. Students will integrate the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for civic engagement and ethical citizenship at the local, national, and global levels. Further, students will research public problems, develop and participate in strategies to resolve them.
SMC2303 – Foundations of Practice: Fine Arts and Creative Process. This course explores the impact of the creative process as it is revealed in the art of human expression. The nature of this impact will cultivate an appreciation of the arts, namely in Music, Theatre and Art. Through the investigation of theory and practice, one may learn how the visual and performing arts are unique and yet complement each other. Emphasis will be placed upon the study of selected historical periods to enhance a student s experience when faced with actual works of art.
SMC2304W – Foundations of Practice: Literature. A reading- and writing-intensive exploration of literary relationships in order to illuminate the practice and analysis of literature as a mechanism for understanding the human experience. Pre-requisite: EN1311W or equivalent.
SMC4301 – Capstone Seminar: Prospects for Community and Civilization. The Capstone Seminar is a course which draws on the foundational courses of the SMC and, provides an opportunity for students to integrate and reflect on the aims of the Core in relation to the whole of their St. Mary’s experience. Taught either in open sections or in sections designated for specific majors, the course will focus on a specific theme that will be of concern for the flourishing of local, national, or global communities, as the students enter the next stage of their lives. Prerequisites: Completion of all other SMC courses; senior status.