General Education: The Aims Curriculum

The Aims Curriculum at Warren Wilson College honors a traditional liberal arts curriculum while embedding that curriculum in the College’s distinctive mission. The curriculum includes a breadth of perspectives (Liberal Arts Disciplines), continuous writing instruction (Writing Across the Curriculum), pedagogical Aims (Work-Learning and Service-Learning), and ethical (Values) Aims. In many cases, courses fulfill multiple Aims from different categories. Students work with their academic advisors to ensure that selected courses meet the Triad Education Program requirements.

Writing Across the Curriculum Aims – 14 credit hours

  1. Aim 1: Critical Thinking and Community Engagement (First-Year Seminar) – 4 credit hours
  2. A First-Year Seminar course integrates writing-intensive academic study and service learning at an introductory level. This integration is an intellectual, practical, and ethical enterprise that advances as students develop and refine their critical thinking skills. While the course introduces students to an academic discipline or interdisciplinary topic, it also involves issue exploration or problem solving and fosters a sense of civic urgency. Designed exclusively for first-semester students, the course accommodates transition-to-college advising and encourages a sense of place and well-being. The sense-of-place engagement happens on campus, in living-learning communities tied to the Aim 1 course; and beyond campus, in partnership with local or regional service organizations. Through several informal and formal writing assignments, as well as an oral presentation, students think critically about course concepts, related reading, and service-learning experience. Students contribute work that best exemplifies their skills in critical thinking and community engagement to the Triad Portfolio.
  1. Aim 2: Research & Academic Discourse – 4 credit hours
  2. Research and Academic Discourse courses immerse students in academic conversations by teaching writing and research skills and offering repeated opportunities to practice those skills. The seminar builds on the skills of critical thinking and communication taught in the First-Year Seminar. Each seminar is designed within an academic discipline around a topic of the faculty member’s choosing. Students may choose to enroll in a Research & Academic Discourse course in their second or third semester but are required to complete it successfully before enrolling in Aim 3 (Research & Disciplinary Discourse). Research & Academic Discourse courses may contribute to students’ Triad Portfolios.
  1. Aim 3: Research & Disciplinary Discourse – 4 credit hours
  2. Advanced students in any discipline are trained researchers and writers. They are able to situate their own ideas within the intellectual context of their field, to assemble a networked body of scholarly work, and to then write within the context of that research. Research & Disciplinary Discourse courses offer sequenced instruction through these stages of research and writing, whether as practice toward or as direct preparation for a capstone project to follow. Research & Disciplinary Discourse is fulfilled as a part of students’ majors (although some majors may recommend or designate Research & Disciplinary Discourse courses in other departments). Students may not fulfill their Research & Disciplinary Discourse requirement prior to their fifth semester.
  1. Aim 4: Capstone Synthesis – 2 credit hours
  2. Capstone Synthesis courses require students to apply and synthesize their academic training through a specific culminating project that may take the form of a thesis based on original research, original artwork, an internship, applied project, or a combination of these elements.

Aim 5: Service Learning – 4 credit hours

  1. Service learning is a method under which students learn and develop through thoughtfully organized service that “is conducted in and meets the needs of a community and is coordinated with an institution of higher education and with the community; helps foster civic responsibility; is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the students enrolled; and includes structured time for students to reflect on the service experience.” – American Association for Higher Education (AAHE): Series on Service-Learning in the Disciplines (adapted from the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993). Courses that satisfy the Service Learning Aim substantially integrate service learning into the coursework.

Aim 6: Work Learning – 2 credit hours

  1. Aim 6: Work Learning is not required of students entering under the 2015-2016 Warren Wilson College Catalog.

Liberal Arts Disciplines Aims – 28-36 credit hours

  1. Aim 7: Proficiency in a Second Language – up to 8 credit hours
  2. Students who have met the Proficiency in a Second Language Aim demonstrate proficiency in a language other than their native languages through intermediate-low level according to ACTFL (American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages) guidelines. Students engage with the target language in classes that expose them to the content, theory and methodology of modern languages and literatures, second language acquisition and/or linguistics in the target language(s).
  1. Aim 8: Mathematical Reasoning – 4 credit hours
  2. Mathematical Reasoning courses introduce students to the mathematical method and applications that involve quantitative and abstract reasoning. Courses that satisfy the Mathematical Reasoning Aim focus substantially on abstract and quantitative reasoning and employing technology (three quarters of the course grade is directly and explicitly determined by demonstrating competence with these three skills).
  1. Aim 9: Natural Science Method – 4 credit hours
  2. Natural Science courses are designed to enable students to develop the research skills and critical thinking skills necessary to employ the scientific method and assess scientific information. Courses meeting this requirement need not cover the breadth of a scientific field, but they prepare students to evaluate scientific claims, consider alternative hypotheses for empirical findings, and appreciate the uncertainty often surrounding such findings.
  1. Aim 10: Aesthetic Judgment & Artistic Expression – 4 credit hours
  2. Courses that satisfy the Aesthetic Judgment & Artistic Expression Aim develop proficiency in the production, interpretation, or critical understanding of creative works in music, creative writing, or the visual or performing arts. They have as their primary subject of study creative endeavor and artistic practices and processes in music, creative writing, visual arts, or performing arts. Courses fulfilling this aim contain assignments that require students to directly engage the practices and products of the creative arts including, but not limited to, the development of skills, realization of form, and/or transmission of historical tradition in acting, musical performance, dance, or visual expression, or the craft and technique of creative writing.
  1. Aim 11: Historical Analysis – 4 credit hours
  2. Historical Analysis courses engage students in critical analysis of the past that results in an awareness of the historical context of the present and an understanding of persisting historical debates. Courses fulfilling this Aim have as their primary subject historical analysis and emphasize informed and historical approaches to the use of sources and to the evaluation and presentation of evidence. They contain assignments that require students to work in the same way that professional historians or art historians do. Classes are based on the analysis of both primary sources (historical documents, material objects, cultural artifacts, etc.) and the secondary literature of the topic or period under study.
  1. Aim 12: Literary Analysis – 4 credit hours
  2. Literary Analysis courses emphasize close reading and interpretive skills by introducing students to literary works in their historical and cultural contexts. Courses offered to fulfill the Literary Analysis Aim have primary works of imaginative literature (as opposed to secondary scholarship and criticism) as their main subject matter. They study the primary works of literature from the perspectives of literary criticism and scholarship (as opposed, for example, to studying them as documents of social history or from the particular perspective of theatre artists preparing a stage production). Additionally, they require students to write original, formal literary critical essays; the amount of writing required (above a minimum total of 10 pages) is appropriate to the level of the course.
  1. Aim 13: Philosophical Inquiry – 4 credit hours
  2. Philosophical Inquiry courses emphasize deep questioning and rational argumentation through the study of philosophical or religious texts. Students in these courses engage in critical analysis of the justifications for and the implications of fundamental views and positions. Courses fulfilling the philosophical inquiry aim have as their primary subject philosophy and/or religious studies and emphasize an informed philosophical approach to the use of sources and to the evaluation and presentation of theoretical positions, issues, arguments, worldviews, and implications. An informed philosophical approach includes a particular focus on learning and developing critical analysis and argumentative skills. Courses fulfilling this aim utilize regular discussion and critical analysis of primary, and often secondary, sources in the relevant period or theme of philosophy or religious studies, with a particular focus on texts that are argumentative in nature. Additionally, courses fulfilling this aim contain assignments that require students to engage in the same kind of philosophical work that professional philosophers and professors of religious studies do.
  1. Aim 14: Society & Human Behavior – 4 credit hours
  2. The Society & Human Behavior Aim is designed to engage students in critical thinking about the systematic study of human behavior and social interactions. Courses that satisfy the Society & Human Behavior requirement include ways that a particular social science discipline analyzes human activity or social structure, introduce students to the theoretical framework within a social science discipline, and have the social lives of individuals or human groups as their central focus.

Values Aims – Up to 12 credit hours

  1. Aim 15: Social Justice – 4 credit hours
  2. A Social Justice course examines patterns of social inequality. These courses address concepts of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and/or disability, considering these at both the level of individuals’ lived experiences and within larger societal contexts. Courses that fulfill the Social Justice Aim interweave the theme of social justice throughout course description, objectives, outcomes, content, assignments, and discussions.
  1. Aim 16: International Perspectives – 4 credit hours
  2. International Perspectives courses focus primarily on a region of the world outside the United States or on the relationships between different nations, cultures, or regions. Courses that fulfill the International Perspectives Aim engage with voices, writings, scholarship, and perspectives from outside the United States. Additionally, they cultivate students’ ability to understand and respect diverse cultural and historical traditions and to display self-reflective awareness of their roles as citizens in a diverse global community.
  1. Aim 17: Environmental Responsibility – 4 credit hours
  2. Aim 17: Environmental Responsibility is not required of students entering under the 2015-2016 Warren Wilson College Catalog.

The Major

The major at Warren Wilson College consists of a planned program of courses, whether in a single academic discipline or in an interdisciplinary field. The major program assists students in developing a thorough understanding of a particular subject or interdisciplinary topic and an awareness of connections among its components and with related subjects. Study in the major helps students learn the approaches to inquiry used in the discipline and appropriate specialized skills.

A major consists of a minimum of 32 credit hours of course work, including at least 12 credit hours at the 300 and/or 400 levels. A major consists of a maximum of 70 credit hours of course work, with no more than 55 credit hours of course work within a single academic discipline.

As a requirement for the baccalaureate degree, a student must complete course requirements and any other requirements of a major department or program. See Programs of Study (Section 3).

Each student must declare a major at least two weeks prior to registration for the fifth semester of study. Forms for the declaration of a major are available at the Registrar’s Office.

The Senior Letter

Candidates for a degree must each write a letter addressed to the faculty and staff of the College, which includes an evaluation of the their experiences at the College and reflections on their college careers. This letter is presented to the major department on or before a date fixed by the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Senior Letters are made available to the faculty and staff through the Registrar’s Office.