Sewanee’s general education curriculum encourages intellectual curiosity and exposure to significant traditions and ways of seeing the world that our disciplines and programs present. These requirements are typically accomplished in the first two years of enrollment and set the foundation for a student’s major.

1. Reading Closely: Literary Analysis and Interpretation

The ability to read closely provides a foundation for informed and reflective critical analysis that is fundamental to lifelong learning and literary experiences of lasting value. Instruction in reading closely equips students to pay careful attention to the constitutive details and stylistic concerns of significant works of literature so as to arrive at a meaning that can be defended with confidence.

2. Understanding the Arts: Creativity, Performance, and Interpretation

The need to create, experience, and comprehend art is a defining human activity. Learning in the arts fosters aesthetic development, self-discipline, imaginative insights, and the ability to make connections between seemingly disparate ideas and issues. Many courses provide insight into the discipline, craft, and creative processes that go into making a work of art, while others focus on analyzing and interpreting the products of that artistic creativity. Developing the ability to think in intuitive, non-verbal, aural, or visual realms enhances creativity, and provides students a way to address problems that do not have conventional solutions.

3. Seeking Meaning: Wisdom, Truth, and Inquiry

The quest to answer fundamental questions of human existence has always been central to living the examined life. Through this learning objective, students examine how people in diverse times and places have addressed basic human questions about the meaning of life, the source of moral value, the nature of reality and possibility of transcendence, and to what or whom persons owe their ultimate allegiance. Courses that explore texts and traditions dedicated to philosophic questions and ethical inquiry, or that examine religious belief and practice as a pervasive expression of human culture, encourage students to develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.

4. Exploring Past and Present: Perspectives on Societies and Cultures

Curiosity about society and its institutions is central to the engaged life. In addition, informed citizens should have an understanding of individual and collective behavior in the past and present. To address the challenges facing the world today, citizens must understand how these challenges arise and the roles that individuals, communities, countries, and international organizations play in addressing them. Learning how to pose appropriate questions, how to read and interpret historical documents, and how to use methods of analysis to study social interaction prepares students to comprehend the dynamics within and among societies. These skills enable students to examine the world around them and to make historically, theoretically, and empirically informed judgments about social phenomena.

5. Observing, Experimenting, and Modeling: The Scientific and Quantitative View

The study of the natural world through careful observation, construction and testing of hypotheses, and the design and implementation of reproducible experiments is a key aspect of human experience. Scientific literacy and the ability to assess the validity of scientific claims are critical components of an educated and informed life. Scientific and quantitative courses develop students’ ability to use close observation and interpret empirical data to understand processes in the natural world better. As they create models to explain observable phenomena, students develop their abilities to reason both deductively and inductively.

6. Comprehending Cross-Culturally: Language and Global Studies

The cross-cultural comprehension requirement at Sewanee helps to prepare students for full citizenship in our global society. Upon completion of this requirement, students have developed a range of communicative strategies in a foreign language, recognition of another cultural perspective, and the capacity for informed engagement with another culture. These skills lead students to understand a variety of texts: oral, visual, and written. Students practice writing, public speaking, conversing, critical thinking, and textual analysis. Success in a foreign language gives students knowledge that they can apply broadly to academic and non-academic settings. The study of at least a second language is and always has been a hallmark of liberal arts education, providing not just access to the thought and expression of a foreign mentality and culture, but also a useful way to reflect on one’s own mentality, language, and culture.

Writing Intensive Course

A Foundational Writing-Intensive Course is built around casting thoughtful academic writing as a critical component of the thinking and learning processes. Not just an end goal, writing in these courses is seen as integral to discovering connections between and among ideas as well as offering creative and continual engagement with the course material. As any department might offer a Foundational Writing-Intensive Course, the structures of writing instruction may differ from course to course. However, all students will be expected to write at least 20-25 pages of prose that communicate what they have discovered in a clear and compelling manner. Moreover, any GFWI course will devote significant and dedicated class time throughout the semester to writing instruction, including argument and organization, use of evidence, mastery of academic English grammar and style, consideration of a piece’s intended audience, and will prioritize strategies for responding to feedback through careful revision practices.

Physical Education and Wellness

As the Greeks and Romans understood, healthy bodies and minds are closely connected and need to be cultivated together. Students are expected to take these courses in order to learn about the proper care of the body, the value of regular exercise, or to obtain an appreciation of individual and team sports.