Barnard proudly builds on its 125-year history with Foundations, a forward-looking new curriculum. Honoring the College’s commitment to the liberal arts and its strong mission and goals, Foundations is innovative, rigorous, and flexible—all to keep pace with our rapidly evolving world.
Foundations, which goes into effect for students entering in Fall 2016, prepares Barnard students for the future by adding depth and breadth to our existing course of study. It emphasizes technology and digital learning; international and global learning; and the importance of quantitative and empirical reasoning. Our students are expected to study the local—our connection with New York City—and the historical, and to study and think hard about social difference. And with Foundations, Barnard is one of the first liberal arts colleges with a distinct technology requirement.
forward-looking curriculum that asks our students to think
theoretically, empirically, and technologically, to write
effectively; and to speak persuasively — all while giving them
— Linda A. Bell, Provost
How will it work?
Foundations provides students with a diverse and ambitious curriculum that is uniquely Barnard.
Woven through it all, the new set of General Education Requirements—First-Year Experience, Distributional Requirements, Modes of Thinking, Senior Experience—is robust and adaptable to individual needs and interests.
Barnard students discover the benefits of Foundations from the start. The First-Year Experience includes two semesters of seminar classes: First-Year Writing, focusing on reading literary texts critically and writing effectively, and First-Year Seminar, emphasizing disciplinary and interdisciplinary content that challenges students to write and speak persuasively. First-year students are also required to take one course in Physical Education.
The Distributional Requirements are designed to expose students to a variety of disciplines, approaches, and skills that, together, form the whole of a liberal arts education. The requirements are designed to be flexible; students choose from a wide spectrum of courses and take two courses each in languages, arts and humanities, social sciences, and sciences (one of which includes a lab). The Distributional Requirements may, of course, be satisfied within the major.
Modes of Thinking
At the heart of Foundations are the unique Modes of Thinking—which reflect our institutional mission, and by construction, emphasize the dynamic process of thinking over the certainty of knowing. Modes of Thinking include one course each in:
- Thinking Locally–New York City—where students examine the community and environment in which they find themselves as residents of New York City to better understand the significance of local context.
- Thinking through Global Inquiry—where students consider communities, places, and experiences beyond their immediate location, expanding their perspectives on the world and their place in it.
- Thinking about Social Difference—where students examine how difference is defined, lived, and challenged, and the disparities of power and resources in all their manifestations.
- Thinking with Historical Perspective—where students examine the ways in which historical context shapes and conditions the world, challenging them to see the past with fresh eyes.
- Thinking Quantitatively and Empirically—where students are exposed to numbers, data, graphs, and mathematical methods, in order to better understand quantitative and empirical approaches to thinking and problem solving.
- Thinking Technologically and Digitally—where students discover new ways of learning that open up innovative fields of study, including computational science and coding, digital arts and humanities, geographic information systems, and digital design.