Overview of Foundations Curriculum
In recent years, Barnard has made changes to the core curriculum in an effort to better prepare students for living and working in the 21st century. Beginning with the class of 2020, Barnard students will fulfill the Foundations curriculum for graduation instead of Barnard’s old curriculum, The Nine Ways of Knowing. Foundations is designed to give both breadth and depth with the First-Year Experience, Distributional Requirements, and Modes of Thinking. I know this sounds like a lot, so let’s break it down.
The First-Year Experience is made of 3 one-semester courses that must be completed during your first year at Barnard. These courses are First-Year Writing, First-Year Seminar, and physical education. The goal of First-Year Writing is to enhance students’ writing and analytical abilities through different literary traditions. First-Year Seminar is intended to increase critical reading skills and translate thoughts into effective oral and written arguments via small, discussion-based classes. And finally, the point of physical education is to make students more knowledgable about their own well-being. Physical education can be fulfilled with traditional exercise classes, dance, or participation on a Varsity athletic team.
Distributional Requirements can be thought of like different areas of study. These areas include language, humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Barnard students are required to take 2 courses in each area, with the exception of science which requires 2 lecture courses and 1 lab course. The Distributional Requirements make up a total of 9 courses and there’s a wide variety of classes available that fulfill each requirement.
Modes of Thinking
In addition to Distributional Requirements, there are 6 Modes of Thinking. The Modes of Thinking are like different lenses of learning. A course that fulfills a Mode of Thinking is taught with one of the Modes in mind and aims to have students think critically about the world we live in. The Modes include thinking locally (about New York City), thinking through global inquiry, thinking about social difference, thinking with historical perspective, thinking quantitatively and empirically, and thinking technologically and digitally.
So 3 First-Year Experience courses, 9 Distributional Requirements courses, and 6 Modes of Thinking courses, on top of a major, maybe a minor, and elective credits, how can anyone graduate in 4 years?! Don’t worry! Foundations allow you to double-dip courses. This means that one course you take can count for two of the following categories: Distributional Requirements, Modes of Thinking, major, and minor/elective credits. No First-Year Experience courses can double-dip and you cannot double-dip within the same category (for example, a class on the history of New York City can either count for the thinking locally Mode of Thinking or the thinking with historical perspective Mode of Thinking, but not both).
Whether you come into Barnard knowing exactly what you want to study or have no clue, Foundations gives you guidance and the ability to dive deeper into familiar topics and to try new fields.
Thumbnail credit to Barnard Communications Flickr