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Common Curriculum

The common curriculum applies to students who entered the university before the Fall 2015 semester. 

The Common Curriculum reflects Trinity's commitment to the liberal arts and sciences. The Curriculum is meant to establish for each Trinity student a basis for understanding the varied domains of human knowledge and experience. The Curriculum also includes skills necessary for active, critical and creative participation in the academic life of the University. Paramount among those skills are the abilities to think creatively and critically, and to express such thinking effectively both orally and in writing. Together, those understandings and skills are necessary for the personal, lifelong quest for understanding of oneself and one's place in the world, and the serious commitment to respond to the opportunities and needs of society and self, which are the true marks of a liberally educated person. The Common Curriculum consists of: 

The First-Year Seminar Program 

Every new student must enroll in a First-Year Seminar in the first year at Trinity and will be notified whether to register for the First-Year Seminar in the fall or spring semester. 

The Writing Workshop Program 

The Writing Workshop (ENGL1302) refines and enhances skills in critical reading, analysis, judgment, and written composition, with the goal of ensuring that all students are proficient in the use of these essential tools. With few exceptions, first-year students must enroll in one semester of their first year at Trinity in a section of the Writing Workshop and will be assigned to either the fall or spring semester for the Writing Workshop. the exceptions are: 

  1. Students who have a score of 5 on the Advanced Placement Test in English Language and Composition, or a score of 5 on the Advanced Placement Test in English Literature and Composition; or 
  2. Students who transfer an equivalent course (the second course of a two-semester composition sequence) from another institution. 

Foreign Language, Computer, and Mathematics Skills 

Given the importance of skill in the use of foreign languages, or proficiency in the use of computers, and of an understanding of mathematical reasoning for contemporary liberally educated graduates, but also recognizing that the majority of Trinity students come well-prepared in these areas, the Common Curriculum has set these standards: 

Foreign Languages 

The University requires two years of a single foreign language (either ancient or modern) for admission. For graduation from Trinity, students must reach a minimum level of competence corresponding to that attained after successful completion of the first semester of the second year of college foreign language study (courses numbered "2301"). Please see page 8 for specific information on entrance requirement and placement in foreign languages. 

Computer Skills

Students must be able to use computers to collect, organize, analyze and communicate information in an academic environment. We expect that all students add to their computing skills at Trinity. During orientation of their first year, students will take an examination to determine if they have competency in the following skills: 

  1. Introduction to Computing (hardware, software, files and formats) 
  2. Computers and Text (the uses of word processing software) 
  3. Computers and Numbers (quantitative analysis using spreadsheet software) 
  4. Computers and Information Retrieval (structuring and retrieving data using database software) 
  5. Computers and Graphics (visualizing and illustrating ideas using graphics software) 
  6. Computer Communications (using Local Area Networks, electronic mail and the World Wide Web) 
  7. Computer Ethics (issues of privacy and the legal use of software and data) 

Students who do not pass the test must fulfill this requirement by the end of the first semester of the sophomore year by completing an approved course built around these criteria which includes both instruction in, and hands-on use of computers and computer network resources. 

Mathematics 

The University requires completion of three years of high school mathematics, including either trigonometry or precalculus, for admission as a first-year student. While there is no further requirement, all students are urged to undertake further study of mathematics at Trinity. 

Lifetime Sports and Fitness 

Students should possess sufficient knowledge, understanding, and skill to enable them to make intelligent decisions relating to health and fitness throughout life. This requirement may be satisfied by: 

  • having participated in a lifetime sport at the varsity or equivalent level; or 
  • having successfully completed a course in a lifetime sport or fitness activity. 

Six Fundamental Understandings 

The skills envisioned as essential by the Common Curriculum are brought to bear on six substantive areas of knowledge, each of which can be approached from several disciplinary perspectives. The Common Curriculum is designed to involve all students in learning in these fundamental areas, which on the one hand represent basic and specific essentials of a solid liberal arts education, and on the other are meant to be approached integratively, in order to initiate students into their own quest for a coherent and comprehensive worldview. 

Not all courses offered in the University serve the purposes of this design. Both nondepartmental courses specifically designed to serve the Common Curriculum and selected departmental courses are included in the list of approved courses. All such courses are expected to reach beyond their originating disciplines towards relevant connections with other areas of knowledge and to encourage the students' critical skills. The courses will, where appropriate, include the development and demonstration of writing and speaking skills. The list of courses approved for the Common Curriculum can be found in the Class Schedule. Students will select a series of approved courses within the Understandings below. In order to ensure breadth in the Common Curriculum: 

  • A student may take no more than seven hours in a single department to satisfy these requirements. 
  • In no case may a student apply a single course to satisfy more than one of the Understandings. Should a given course be certified as meetings the criteria of more than one of the Understandings, students taking that course for Common Curriculum purposes must decide, in consultation with their advisors, the Understandings to which it will actually apply. Neither the First Year Seminar nor the Writing Workshop may be used to meet the requirements of any of the understandings. 

The Understandings 

Understanding the Intellectual Heritage of Western Culture 

Understanding the forces that shaped the past of western civilization and will influence the future. The set of three courses must include intensive study of major works drawn from at least two of the following: the Greek and Roman classics, the Jewish and Christian traditions, and other major figures and movements in the Western intellectual tradition to the mid-twentieth century. (9 hours) 

Understanding World Cultures 

Understanding cultural traditions with roots indigenous to Africa, Asia, or the New World, pursued through a study of one cultural tradition, a comparative study of two or more cultural traditions, or a study of the cultural traditions of ethnic minorities. (6 hours) 

Understanding the Role of Values 

Understanding the ways in which moral and ethical values shape and express human choice as well as individual and cultural self-definition, with attention both to systems of values and to the application of values to current issues. (3 hours) 

Understanding the World Through Science 

Understanding the foundation and processes of scientific discovery. Understanding ways that science, mathematics and technology relate to human needs and to the development of society. This understanding can be satisfied by two or three courses totaling at least seven hours. One course must involve a significant laboratory or quantitative component. If this Understanding is satisfied with two courses, then one of these courses must have a significant laboratory component. At least one course (minimum 3 hours credit) must be in Biology, Chemistry, Geosciences, or Physics. (7 - 10 hours)

Understanding the Human Social Context 

Understanding the relationships between human behavior and social systems within cultural, historical, and institutional contexts. Three courses: at least one course will provide an introduction to the ways in which one of the social sciences seeks to understand human behavior, and at least one course will, from a perspective broader than that of any single discipline, either explore one or more significant social issues or examine the evolution and functions, both social and individual, of one or more major institutions. (9 hours) 

Understanding Aesthetic Experience and Artistic Creativity 

Understanding the arts as one of the principal ways of expressing and enriching the human spirit, approached through involvement with artistic creation, performance, appreciation, history or criticism, or an integration of cognitive aims with the experience of artistic creation. (3 hours) 

The Understandings 

First- Year Seminar (GNED 1300) 

Writing Workshop (ENGL 1302) 

Foreign Language, Computer, and Mathematics Skills 

Lifetime Sports and Fitness 

The Understandings 

Intellectual Heritage of Western Culture 

Set of three courses must include at least two of the following three areas: Greek and Roman Classics (GR), Judeo- Christian Heritage (JC), and other major figures and movements (MF/M). (9 hours) 

World Cultures (6 hours) 

Role of Values (3 hours) 

The World Through Science 

One course must involve a significant laboratory or quantitative component. If this Understanding is satisfied with two courses, then one must have a significant laboratory component. At least one course (minimum 3 hours credit) must be in Biology, Chemistry, or Geosciences. (7-10 hours) 

Human Social Context 

Three courses: at least one course will provide an introduction to the ways in which one of the social sciences seeks to understand the interactions between human behavior and social processes and structures and at least one course will, from a perspective broader than that of any single discipline, either explore one or more significant social issues or examine the evolution, functions, and consequences, both social and individual, of one or more major institutions. (9 hours) 

Aesthetic Experience and Artistic Creativity 

One course in appreciation, history or criticism; or 3 hours in practicing one of the arts; or one course which integrates cognitive aim with actual experience of artistic creation. (3 hours)