Academics

A. General Education

The First-Year Seminar – 4 credit hours

All new first-year students, and many transfer students with less than one full year of college study, must enroll in a First-Year Seminar during the first term or semester at Warren Wilson College. The student is assigned an academic advisor until a major advisor is determined. The seminar consists of a small group of students and is designed to provide a stimulating beginning for collegiate study. Seminars are offered in many different subjects, introducing students to Warren Wilson collegiate life, and to strategies for learning, problem solving, and research, using resources of the College and the immediate area.

College Composition I and II – 8 credit hours

All students must demonstrate competency in college composition by successfully completing the course WRI 120 College Composition I and a Composition II course offered through one of the academic departments. (A minimum grade of C- must be earned in both courses.)

Students must enroll in WRI 120 in their first year and a College Composition II (CCII) course in their second or third year. The Director of Undergraduate Writing will determine in which semester a student will enroll in a required composition course. Every effort is made to match students with a preferred section of College Composition I.

Transfer students may, upon approval by the Registrar or the Director of Undergraduate Writing, fulfill the WRI 120 requirement through appropriate performance in an acceptable composition course taken at a previously attended institution. Advanced Placement credit is not automatically accepted for composition courses.

College Composition I

Students develop their thinking through writing expository prose. They work toward improved organization and clarity by writing multiple drafts of their assignments and participating in peer reviews. Students practice locating, integrating, and citing primary or secondary source material in their writing, and they learn to edit their own writing, checking for correct usage, mechanics, spelling, and punctuation. Although sections of College Composition I are organized thematically, the goal of all instruction is that students become familiar with the process needed to produce clear, polished, expository prose.

College Composition II – See also courses of instruction (Section 4)

Students complete several writing assignments that encourage them to improve their writing skills and discover the specific demands of writing in their discipline. They learn approaches to research and documentation as they are practiced in this academic field, and they are given some exposure to the professional literature of the discipline. Students should have completed WRI 120 with a grade of C- or better or had the College Composition I course requirement waived. Exceptions will be considered by the Director of Undergraduate Writing.

Liberal Arts Area Courses – 32 credit hours

Completion of four credit hours in each of the eight Liberal Arts Areas is required. Students should work with their academic advisors to ensure that selected courses meet the Triad Education Program requirements. Independent studies, internships, and pre-professional courses do not fulfill Liberal Arts Area requirements.

Artistic Expression

The Artistic Expression requirement is designed to introduce students to the creative process and to the experience of creating works of art.

Courses that satisfy the Artistic Expression area requirement should

  1. Have as a component the creation of visual art, music, theater, dance or creative writing.

History and Political Science

The History and Political Science area requirement is designed to ensure that all students are introduced to the ways in which an understanding of the history of human experience or an understanding of political culture and political institutions can illuminate and enrich their understanding of society. The primary focus of a course meeting this requirement must be the fields of history or political science, and not the historical or political underpinnings of some other field of study. The course needs to be organized around the disciplinary approaches or comparative theories of history or political science.

Courses that satisfy the History and Political Science area requirement should

  1. Be based on the analysis of both primary sources (laws, policies, historical documents, etc.) and the secondary literature in history or political science. The courses should emphasize an informed approach to the use of sources and to the evaluation and presentation of evidence.
  2. Require students to write papers that are either historical or political analysis and argumentation and that use the styles and conventions of those fields.

Language and Global Issues

The language and Global Issues requirement is designed to introduce students to values, customs, and institutions that differ from their own, or to provide the opportunity to explore the origins of complex global issues. The requirement provides an opportunity for students to explore contemporary issues from many perspectives. Because of the value in developing fluency in a foreign language as a way of fostering global understanding, foreign language courses fulfill this requirement.

Courses that satisfy the Language and Global Issues area requirement should

  1. Either introduce students to a culture beyond their own,
  2. Or focus on contemporary issues of global concern from multiple perspectives.

Literature

The Literature area requirement is designed to introduce students to ways of understanding, interpreting, and responding to primary works of imaginative literature. The objective of the requirement is to develop a student’s informed literary and aesthetic judgment.

Courses that satisfy the Literature area requirement should

  1. Have primary works of literature as opposed to secondary scholarship and criticism, as their main subject matter. A course in which literary works supplement or complement a different main subject matter does not qualify.
  2. Study primary works of literature from the perspectives of literary criticism and scholarship, as opposed to those of some other discipline, such as history, social science, or theater production.
  3. Require the writing of original, formal literary criticism.

Mathematics

The Mathematics area requirement is designed to promote the development of empirical and quantitative critical thinking. The primary focus of the requirement is to prepare students to describe, manipulate, and evaluate quantitative, complex, or abstract ideas or arguments with precision.

Courses that satisfy the Mathematics area requirement should

  1. Involve the practice of mathematical skills.
  2. Involve hearing, reading, and speaking about a variety of mathematical ideas and/or applications.
  3. Model the habits and thought processes of a mathematically trained mind for the student.
  4. Focus on improving students’ proficiency in mathematical reasoning.

Natural Science

The Natural Science area requirement is designed to develop a working knowledge of the scientific method and the ability to critically assess scientific information. Courses meeting this requirement need not cover the breadth of a scientific field, but should prepare students to evaluate scientific claims, consider alternative hypotheses for empirical findings, and appreciate the uncertainty often surrounding such findings.

Courses that satisfy the Natural Science area requirement should

  1. Introduce students to key concepts, facts, and theories relevant to a scientific discipline.
  2. Teach the process of science, ideally through hands-on laboratory or field experiences.
  3. Relate scientific concepts, facts, theories, and methods to real-world problems of wide concern.
  4. When possible, discuss the analysis, evaluation, and status of truth claims about the natural world.

Philosophy and Religious Studies

The Philosophy and Religious Studies area requirement is designed to expose all students to a systematic study of the origins and diversity of human belief. The requirement introduces students to the value of understanding alternative theories and conceptions of human experience and purpose as a way of developing their own ethical stance.

Courses that satisfy the Philosophy and Religious Studies area requirement should

  1. Examine various systems of belief and their ethical ramifications.
  2. Explore the methods of argumentation and interpretation as a way towards evaluating the truth.
  3. Draw conclusions between belief systems and contemporary dilemmas of either a personal or social nature.
  4. Require the writing of original and persuasive analysis.

Social Science

The Social Science area requirement is designed to introduce students to some of the ways human social interactions can be systematically studied, such as the methods of anthropology, economics, geography, psychology, and sociology. The primary focus of the course needs to include ways that a particular social science discipline analyzes human activity or social structure.

Courses that satisfy the Social Science area requirement should

  1. Introduce students to the particular languages, approaches, and methodologies of a social science discipline.
  2. Have the social life of human groups or individuals as its central focus.

A list of Liberal Arts Area courses will be available from the Registrar prior to registration for the fall and spring semesters. They are also identified in the Courses of Instruction (Section 4) by the symbol .

B. 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.

C. 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.