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Set the Stage for your Success
The Vision of St. Thomas Aquinas College is to offer a “transformative education rooted in the liberal arts and designed to prepare them for career success in a changing world.” The clearest way we do this across all majors is our STAGE program, The St. Thomas Aquinas Gateway to Excellence. The skills and proficiencies you will develop through the STAGE program include those most in demand by all employers:
- Information Literacy
- Problem Solving and Critical Analysis
- Written and Oral Communication
- Quantitative Literacy
And, in alignment with the College Mission to prepare students to make a profound change in the world, the capstone experience of the STAGE program are Gateway courses that engage students in discussions about Cross-Cultural understanding or Social Responsibility.
The First Year Seminar (FYS), called STAGE 101, is designed to provide you with a semester-long introduction to the college academic experience, emphasizing the skills necessary for academic success. Each seminar includes conversations about what will be expected of you in class discussions, essay assignments, and presentations. A main goal of the seminar is to allow you to understand what your professors really expect you to be doing, and to define the terms that your professors assume you know, but you may not know yet.
Additionally, the seminar will create a foundation of civic knowledge so that by the time you graduate, you will be able to engage in a more informed way in our democracy and in our global and multicultural world. To help you with that, the FYS exposes students to enduring questions concerning identity, diversity, inequality, citizenship, democracy, privilege, social responsibility, and ethical action.
Each FYS will be created around a common theme, but each section of the FYS will be unique to the instructor’s teaching interests and discipline, and students will be able to choose from among specific course topics that interest them.
Our Program COMPONENTS
STAGE: The St. Thomas Aquinas Gateway to Excellence
(100 level; 15 credits)
Through a series of required foundational courses and competencies, you will begin to develop the fundamental skills of critical thinking.
❑ STAGE 101: First Year Seminar (3 cr)
❑ Writing 101: Academic Writing I (3 cr)
❑ Writing 102: Academic Writing II (3 cr)
❑ Quantitative Literacy (3 cr)
❑ Scientific Reasoning (3 cr)
Breadth and Proficiency Development
(100 and 200 level; 15 credits)
You must take at least one course from each of the four categories, and another from any category.
❑ Global Cultures and Languages (3-6 cr)
❑ Literature and Creative Arts (3-6 cr)
❑ Philosophy and Religious Studies (3-6 cr)
❑ History and Social Sciences (3-6 cr)
(300 level; 9 credits)
You get to choose three courses that have a broad intellectual and cross-disciplinary significance and will introduce you to integrative problem-solving challenges regarding the perennial issues of the day.
You must choose a different discipline/prefix for each course. You must successfully complete all required Foundation courses and three Breadth and Proficiency courses before taking Gateway courses.
Global Learning and Social Responsibility
Courses are based on the principle that the world is a collection of interdependent yet inequitable systems. Higher education has a vital role in expanding knowledge of human and natural systems, ideas such as privilege and class stratification, and environmental sustainability. These courses will foster your ability to advance equity, justice, and cultural diversity at home and abroad.
Through a series of five required foundational courses, students will begin to develop the fundamental skills of information literacy, problem-solving, written communication, and global learning and social responsibility, all of which are required for academic, professional, and personal success. Level one of the core requires five courses — all of which have been either created or reconstructed specifically for the new core. In addition to taking the First Year Seminar (FYS), the Foundations area requires you to take the following two courses in your first year:
Writing 101: Academic Writing I
The purpose of this course is to prepare students for the tasks of college-level writing through specific and often intense attention to the processes used to arrive at a written essay. In addition to emphasizing mechanics, form, audience, and style, Writing 101 teaches close reading skills, develops reading comprehension, introduces concepts like inference drawing, and helps students understand how to make meaning. Furthermore, it introduces rhetorical concepts and terms students will use throughout their undergraduate careers—such as argument, audience, claims, evidence, and so forth — that will be further developed as students progress through the sequence.
Writing 102: Academic Writing II
The second course in the Writing Program sequence reinforces the skills introduced and developed in Writing 101 by examining a variety of written and visual texts from a variety of disciplines. The aim of this course is to introduce students to various texts — including but not limited to literature, art, case studies, advertisements, essays, academic articles, and so forth — and to strengthen students’ interpretive, analytic, and information literacy skills. Writing 102 will help students recognize conventions specific to discipline as well as conventions that appear across multiple disciplines. Furthermore, this course will also introduce the elements of research at the college level. Prerequisite: Writing 101
You are also required to take two courses to fulfill the following two area requirements:
To fulfill this area, you must take at least one course in Math or a related area that will develop the skills necessary for you to connect quantitative thinking to real-world problems and everyday life situations. For purposes of general education, rather than the specific education required for mathematical fields and disciplines, this course should push students to understand the broad applicability of quantitative literacy and thinking – polls, charts, probability, statistics, economic data, and problem-solving.
To fulfill this area, you must take at least one course in the Sciences in order to advance the process of exploring issues, objects, or works through the collection and analysis of evidence that results in informed conclusions or judgments. Grounded in the scientific method, the course(s) challenges students to think about cause and effect as key concepts in the field of scientific inquiry, particularly in its application to real-world problems.
By taking five courses across multiple disciplines, this area will offer you a breadth of knowledge within the liberal arts and an intermediate development of key proficiencies. You must choose a course from each of the following categories, and your fifth course can be taken from any of the areas you would like to investigate more.
1) Global Culture and Language
This category focuses upon developing the critical analysis of and engagement with the global community through a variety of disciplines, forms, and genres, both classic and contemporary, and from multiple ethnic and national origins. To fulfill this requirement, you must take one (or two) courses in either foreign language instruction or a study of the culture of non-English speaking countries, such as the art, music, or literature produced in these countries.
2) Literature and Creative Arts
This category focuses upon developing the skills of critical analysis necessary to interpret works of art and other cultural modes of expression, including music, film, and literature, in a variety of forms and genres, both classic and contemporary, and from multiple ethnic and national origins. To fulfill this requirement, you must take one (or two) courses in literature, music, or visual art.
3) Philosophy and Religious Studies
This category focuses upon expanding intellectual curiosity and developing skills of reflective reasoning with regard to fundamental questions of human existence and society, and religious and philosophical traditions. To fulfill this requirement, you must take one (or two) courses in Philosophy or Religious Studies.
4) History and Social Sciences
This category focuses upon developing an understanding of the complex relationships between individuals and society, and the forces — political, cultural, economic and institutional — that shape everyday life, past and present. To fulfill this requirement, you must take one (or two) courses in History, Sociology, Political Science, Economics, or Geography.
In addition to a set of required foundational and breadth courses, you will choose and explore a thematic course concentration — a Gateway — that has a broad intellectual and cross-disciplinary interest. The Gateway is designed to introduce you to interdisciplinary problem-solving challenges regarding some of the major issues of our times.
- You can choose your courses voluntarily
- You must choose a different discipline/prefix for each course
- You must successfully complete all required Foundation courses and three Breadth and Proficiency courses before taking your Gateway courses
The current Gateway Theme is Global Learning and Social Responsibility.
Courses in the Gateway will help you understand the complexity of the issues we see in the news every day. The courses you take will help you see the need for all of us to foster every individual’s ability to experience equality and justice, as well as to appreciate the wide and varied kinds of social and cultural diversity at home and abroad.