Goals for Student Learning
Departmental and Program goals for student learning are provided below. All statements of goals for student learning should be regarded as living documents; departments and programs may make changes to their statements as they deem appropriate.
(College level goals for student learning may be found here.)
(Swarthmore examples of course goals on syllabi may be found here.)
Art | Asian Studies | Biology | Black Studies | Chemistry and Biochemistry | Classics | Comparative Literature | Computer Science | Dance | Economics | Educational Studies | Engineering | English Literature | Environmental Studies | Film & Media Studies | French and Francophone Studies | Gender and Sexuality Studies | History | Interpretation Theory | Linguistics | Mathematics and Statistics | Medieval Studies | MLL-Arabic Section | MLL-Chinese Section | MLL - German Studies | MLL-Japanese Section | MLL-Russion Section | Music | Peace & Conflict Studies | Philosophy | Physics and Astronomy | Political Science | Psychology | Religion | Sociology and Anthropology | Spanish | Theater
(For more resources on articulating goals for student learning, see "Resources - Learning Goals".)
Art History Learning Goals and Objectives
- Students will broaden their perspectives and ways of thinking through the study of a variety of works of art and architecture produced in different cultures and at different times.
- Through carefully looking at works of art and architecture students will learn to dedicate the patient, sustained effort necessary to come to an understanding of an object on its own terms.
- Through the study of works of art and architecture students will learn to move beyond subjective response to develop an informed understanding of something outside their knowledge and experience.
- Through visual analysis students will be able to comprehend and articulate the logic of the formal, spatial, material, and technical elements of a work of art or architecture.
- Through contextual analysis students will know how to develop an interpretative project by:
- Critically assessing the art historical literature
- Identifying the subject of the work of art and exploring its meanings
- Situating the work in its context of production and reception
- Students will be able to place works of art and architecture within the history of art.
- Students will learn to critically assess disciplinary definitions, interpretive methods, and historical explanations of works of art and architecture.
- Students will be able to craft lucid historical arguments in dialogue with the larger disciplinary tradition.
Studio Art Learning Goals and Objectives
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of the visual world through assignments based in observational practices that incorporate the elements and principles of design.
- At all levels, students will demonstrate an understanding of different materials and methods by incorporating these approaches in the production of their work.
- Students will demonstrate their critical and analytical skills through the analysis of both form and content in group and individual critiques.
- Students will demonstrate the ability to place their work, and the work of others, into a larger context of historical and contemporary art history through individual presentations.
- In their senior exhibition and thesis statement, students will present their work in cogent, original and convincing ways.
Learning Goals for the Asian Studies Major:
- Interdisciplinary breadth. The student must have mastered more than one academic discipline, to be able to speak to issues/ themes of their research on topics rooted in Asian traditions/regions from more than one disciplinary perspective;
- Comparative Scope. The student must know in some depth more than one region in Asia; though they may focus, for instance, primarily on studies in Chinese traditions, pre- modern or modern, the student must also be able to think comparatively, and engage with more than one Asian tradition in regard to the topics/ themes that are central to their main region-specific research;
- Depth of Knowledge in One Tradition. If the student’s research project is fundamentally trans-national or trans-regional, they should know at least one Asian tradition with depth and detail, including knowledge of language (see below);
- The Past, the Present, and the Future. The student should be aware of modern/contemporary or pre-modern formations (depending upon the student’s scholarly focus) within the Asian traditions they study, with the idea that one cannot never really understand the present without more than cursory knowledge of the past, and also that one cannot study the past without a scholarly awareness of the present forms of political, economic, social, environmental, or religious formations at the center of a student’s project in Asian Studies;
- Languages and Language Study. The student majoring in Asian Studies should demonstrate advanced knowledge of at least one Asian language central to the region/ tradition that is the focus of their academic work.
The Biology department has created a "curricular map" which presents competencies ("skills") students should master by the time they complete the biology major. For each course, grey-filled squares identify skills that are addressed in that course. Members of the Swarthmore community may view the chart.
Black Studies Program
Learning Goals and Objectives
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of the social, cultural, political, and economic conditions that gave rise to the field of Black Studies
- Obtain a deep understanding of the development of the field and its ability to bridge praxis, social action, and scholarly inquiry
- Examine the political, social, and intellectual origins of the discipline and assess the disciplinary and institutional status of Black Studies
- Students will demonstrate their familiarity with the foundational ideas, theories, and methodological approaches of Black Studies
- Demonstrate knowledge of the major historical, cultural and sociopolitical developments in the experiences of people of the African diaspora
- Gain a critical awareness of pre-colonial, colonial, and twentieth century and contemporary Africa, giving due attention to post-colonial social, political, and economic processes in the general context of Africans fashioning of their world in the postcolonial era
- Obtain familiarity with canonical texts and primary sources of the field
- Understand how the African continent has been linked for centuries to transcontinental movements of people, money, ideas, objects, and materials
- Examine African peoples' responses to racialized Atlantic slave trade, colonization, and globalization in order to cultivate a theoretical understanding of social change processes
- Students will develop sophisticated critical reading, writing, and research skills and will apply these in their study of Africa and its Diaspora
- Students are expected to be able to apply the methodology and analytical approaches of the humanities, social sciences, behavioral sciences, and the arts to a rigorous interdisciplinary study of experiences throughout the African diaspora
- Students are expected to demonstrate an interdisciplinary understanding of scholarship related to the African diaspora and Africa and comparative approaches to the study of race, the ability to identify and critically engage different disciplinary, methodological, and interpretive approaches to the comparative study of Africans and people of the African diaspora
- To be able to analyze literature, visual culture, music, social and political institutions critically
- Students are expected to write clear and concise arguments about the historical, literary, economic, political, social, visual, and religious texts if Africa and its diaspora
- Design, execute and complete a research project using careful documentation and close analysis of primary and secondary texts and ethical field methods
Chemistry and Biochemistry
The goal of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is for students to learn chemistry and biochemistry. This overarching goal can be elaborated along the following lines:
- Fundamental principles of chemistry. Students will explore and learn the canonical knowledge, methods, and concepts of the discipline of chemistry as a whole, and of the five sub disciplines into which chemistry is traditionally divided: Analytical, Biochemistry, Inorganic, Organic, and Physical. Students will gain insight into the unique perspectives of these five areas, and into the connections between them, so as to develop a broad, balanced, and detailed understanding of the field as a whole. More detailed information regarding the specific content traditionally associated with these five sub disciplines at the undergraduate level can be found in The American Chemical Society Guidelines for Bachelor’s Degree Programs.
- The scientific method. The discipline of chemistry rests on the scientific method. Students will demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the scientific method, of experimental design, of scientific integrity, and of the constantly evolving nature of scientific knowledge.
- Problem solving skills. Students will develop the ability to apply the facts and principles of chemistry to solve diverse problems. These skills will include critical thinking and facility with quantitative and mathematical approaches.
- Communication skills. Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate clearly and effectively about chemistry with both technical and non-technical audiences, using verbal, written, and graphical modes. They will demonstrate the ability to work in teams to achieve common goals. Students will gain the ability to locate information in the published chemical literature, and to evaluate literature sources critically.
- Chemical safety and environmental stewardship. Students will demonstrate the ability to conduct laboratory work in a manner that is safe and that follows proper practices for the disposal of chemical waste. Students will also develop an awareness of the broader societal and environmental impact of chemical practice.
- The broader context: communication, leadership, and society. The discipline of chemistry has many important connections to the world and to society beyond the research laboratory. Students will gain an appreciation for these connections and recognize that chemistry surrounds our daily lives.
Classics Learning Goals (revised June 2015)
1. Language students will learn to read Greek and Latin texts accurately and perceptively, and with enough fluency to appreciate complexities of language and thought.
2. Through careful reading and analysis of ancient texts students will learn to move beyond subjective response and dedicate the patient, sustained effort necessary to come to an understanding of a text in its own right.
3. Students will learn the value of coming to understand a culture through its language.
4. Students will recognize and appreciate the diversity of Greek and Roman cultures and peoples, and the profound differences between the ancient and the modern worlds. They will also gain an understanding of how the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome are connected to other ancient cultures, for example, to those of the Near East.
5. Students will be able to place classical texts within the history of Greek and Latin literatures.
6. Students will learn to participate in the scholarly discourse of the field of Classics.
7. Students will acquire foundational knowledge of, and learn the issues, debates, and interpretations of significant works of Greek and Roman literature significant periods of historical experience in classical antiquity.
8. Students will develop their own perceptions of important interpretive issues in various disciplines of Classical Studies, along with enough background knowledge in primary and secondary sources to allow arguments to be pursued in depth, both orally and in formal academic prose.
9. Students will learn the methodologies and tools of other disciplines and how to write about Classical literature and history from a variety of critical perspectives.
10. Students will learn to assess critically the evidence of the past through first-hand exposure to primary sources and historical research. Students will learn how to conceptualize a historical problem, conduct original research, read deeply primary source documents, assess evidence critically, formulate analytical questions, construct and support lucid, original arguments, and connect their arguments to the writings of other historians.
11. Students will develop the skills of clear and coherent interpretative writing as well as careful listening and oral presentation. Students will understand and produce the elements of well-written essays, including correct grammar and punctuation, lucid and felicitous style, appropriate citation of primary and secondary sources, the statement of a thesis and the construction of persuasive, well-reasoned, and organized arguments. Students will also learn to make cogent oral arguments about scholarly writing, to offer constructive criticism of their peers’ work, as well as clear and concise verbal presentations of their own historical interpretations.
Goal: Understand the history and achievements of at least 2 literary traditions, studied in the original languages.
1) Demonstrate language competence in at least two languages.
2) Show ability to interpret literary texts and films, and engage significantly with the relevant literary texts.
3) Write imaginatively and persuasively about the chosen works or movements.
4) Theory: know and apply a variety of appropriate theories.
5) Demonstrate a strong background in the cultural and artistic context of the works addressed.
Goals for the Computer Science Major
- Goal: Students should be able to apply problem solving skills to formalize general problem statements into precise algorithmic solutions. These goals are assessed via the lab sequence in every computer science class
- Subgoal: Students should be able to use abstraction to solve problems.
The use of abstraction is found throughout the computer science curriculum. For example:
- Students in CS21 should master basic abstractions such as variables and functions, as well as be introduced to more advanced abstractions such as the call stack and object-oriented programming.
- Students in CS35 should effectively use abstractions such as object-oriented programming and abstract data types such as lists, graphs, and trees.
- Students in CS33 should effectively use abstractions such as digital logical structures, the Von Neumann model, and the call stack.
- We expect all majors and minors to be able to demonstrate their understanding of these abstractions taught in this introductory sequence.
- Subgoal: Students should be able to use critical and creative thinking skills to solve problems.
- Students should be able to turn general or abstract ideas into formal algorithms. This process begins by defining the program specializations and then turning pseudo-code into a computer program using an iterative top-down design process. Students are exposed to numerous examples of this in the introductory course sequence and are asked to demonstrate their proficiency of this throughout the curriculum.
- Subgoal: Students should be able to use abstraction to solve problems.
- Goal: Students should become proficient programmers. These goals are assessed via the lab sequence in every computer science class.
- Subgoal: Students will to be exposed to multiple programming paradigms in order to make them more able to learn new programming languages on their own. This skill is invaluable given the rapid changes in the discipline.
Students will learn multiple programming paradigms. In CS21, students are exposed to imperative programming and object-oriented programming. In CS35, students refine their object-oriented programming skills. Imperative and object-oriented paradigms are reinforced throughout much of the curriculum. Additionally, some of our courses will expose students to other programming paradigms such as parallel programming (CS33, CS40, CS87),functional programming (CS37), and distributed programming (CS87).
- Subgoal: Students should assume their programs will contain errors and that their programs will receive invalid input from external sources. Students should learn to write programs that are robust. Students should learn debugging skills, as well as how to adequately test programs.
Students should be able to use debugging tools (e.g. gdb) to find errors in programs. Students should be able to use unit testing to verify programs.
- Subgoal: Students should have experience using external APIs and libraries.
When writing larger software systems, students must be able to use APIs and libraries that are provided by a third party. This includes being able to include a library into a program, as well as be able to understand how to use a library through documentation of the API provided by the authors of the library.
- Subgoal: Students will to be exposed to multiple programming paradigms in order to make them more able to learn new programming languages on their own. This skill is invaluable given the rapid changes in the discipline.
- Goal: Students should demonstrate an understanding of the interplay between theory and practice.
Students should be able to make predictions about the best case, worst case and average case running time of an algorithm, function, and/or program. Students should be able to use experimentation to validate these hypotheses. Students should be able to analyze and discuss the tradeoff between different approaches to the same problem. Students should be able to justify both that their algorithm is correct and their analysis of its complexity is correct.
- Goal: Students should have a broad exposure to computer systems.
Students should understand the interaction between hardware and software. Students should be exposed to layered systems, understand why these abstractions are beneficial, and be able to use these abstractions to effectively interact with complex systems. Students should be able to manage system resources. Students should understand, at a high-level, how computers execute programs and the role of the operating system. Students should be exposed to parallel and distributed systems and algorithms. Students should understand the interplay of algorithmic complexity and system costs that effect program runtime. Students should understand the trade-offs between system design and understand the importance of the separation of policy and mechanism in system design.
- Goal: Students should have experience conducting research and completing large projects. Often such large projects will require a team effort.
Students should be able to formulate and refine a reasonable research question. Students should be able to investigate related work, create a bibliography, and read primary literature. Students should be able to write research reports describing their work and be able to present this work orally.
- Subgoal: Students should have the ability to work as part of a team.
- Goal: Students should have a broad exposure to computer science.
Students should be exposed to multiple areas in computer science (e.g. systems, algorithms and theory, and applications).
- Goal: Students should be able to apply the computational and algorithmic problem solving skills learned in computer science across many disciplines.
Dance Program Goals for Student Learning (Revised 2018)
Our program has a large and vibrant community of students engaged in dance in various ways. Through performance, study, and regular concert-going, these dance citizens should emerge with a deeper appreciation of aesthetics and understand dance as an essential aspect of culture and humanity, to be treasured and nourished at all levels of society. This might be more simply understood as creative engagement in the broadest sense.
I. To foster an understanding of dance within the context of the liberal arts, built on a foundation of the student’s aesthetic, cultural and intellectual intuitions.
A) We expect students to develop an understanding of the social, cultural, and aesthetic foundations of particular dance styles, both in studio-based technique and repertory courses and in seminar-style dance studies courses.
II. To give students the tools to engage actively and critically with music and dance of varying genres.
1)We expect dance majors to develop appreciation and insight into multiple dance traditions.
2) We expect dance majors to explore ethnographic field methods and oral histories in Music and Dance.
3) We expect dance majors to explore historical methodologies for dance studies research.
4) We also expect dance majors to learn how to craft movement in relation to space, time, and energy dynamics, and to examine how choreographic principles apply across stylistic preferences.
B) Majors & Minors:
1) We expect dance majors and minors to be conversant with fundamental musical terms such as “Rhythm”, “Tempo”, and “Meter.”
2) We expect dance majors and minors to build knowledge about historical and contemporary dance practice and theory through participation in various repertory courses and ensembles.
C) Students enrolled in studio courses & introductory dance studies courses:
1) We expect students enrolled in technique classes to gain an understanding of stylistically appropriate terminology and to engage in gradually more nuanced and challenging movement and rhythmic articulations.
III. To teach students the foundational vocabulary to engage critically with debates regarding dance as an area of scholarly inquiry and to investigate the relationship between dance and other arts and areas of thought.
Subgoals: A) Students enrolled in introductory courses:
1) We expect students in introductory courses to understand the inherently interdisciplinary nature of dance studies.
2) We also expect students in introductory courses to understand the theoretical, historical, and contextual background to the approach to dance studies that shapes their course material and to be able to place course material within different cultural and artistic contexts, past and present.
3) We expect students enrolled in the dance program’s entry-level courses to be able to write and speak coherently and eloquently about dance. Specifically, students should be able to find the key points of an article or primary source and be able to discuss them orally or in a written response.
B) Dance majors and minors:
1) We expect dance majors and minors to engage in historical research projects in which they identify a thesis statement, develop a research plan, search for materials, and write up their findings using proper disciplinary citations.
2) We also expect dance majors and minors to develop and demonstrate through written work and oral discussion an understanding of different methodologies for dance research.
IV. To help students enrolled in technique and repertory courses to attain assuredness (if not mastery) in performance skills.
A)We expect students enrolled in our technique courses to develop increasing understanding of dynamic anatomical alignment.
B) We expect students to develop a working understanding of rhythm and musicality.
C) We also expect students to engage in gradually more nuanced and challenging movement articulation.
V. To encourage our students to engage with the world outside of Swarthmore through volunteering, community engagement, and dance performance projects.
VI. To integrate the primary goals of I-IV in a senior thesis or choreography project for majors and honors minors. The thesis or project gives students the opportunity to integrate performance, choreography, analysis, writing and/or research and demonstrate competency in several areas. Choreographers must present their work on stage or in a site specific venue before an audience of professors, peers, and the general public.
Goals for Economics
- Learn and apply models in micro and macro and tools for analyzing economic processes, decisions, and institutions;
- Analyze and evaluate public policy; and
- Think critically about the outcomes of public and private economic institutions and systems domestically and globally.
Goals for Educational Studies (revised May 2016)
- Students will articulate that Educational Studies is an interdisciplinary field; they will be able to recognize and use research and theoretical frameworks from a range of disciplines to extend, refute, and confirm existing research, theory, and practice, and engage in productive dissemination.
- Students will be able to use evidence to support positions mad in discourse, writing, and use of media.
- Students will be able to produce effective academic writing.
- Students will be able to think critically and creatively about key concepts in the field including learning and development, social and cultural contexts of education, and contemporary political issues in the field and the role of education in society.
- Students will be able to use practice to inform theory and research.
- Students will be engaged in reflective community based fieldwork.
- Students will be self-reflective about their own position and the positions of others in political, social, and institutional structures and the possibilities for growth and change for themselves and others.
- Students will be constructive and generative problem solvers.
(This is an excerpt from "Engineering Department Assessment Documentation, March 2012.")
Graduates with the bachelor of science degree in engineering are prepared to:
- Be flexible and resourceful, learn and apply new knowledge, and adapt successfully to novel circumstances and challenges.
- Communicate and work effectively with a broad variety of backgrounds at both a technical and non-technical level.
- Apply engineering principles and methdology to the design and analysis of systems and to the solution of a wide variety of problems.
- Consider scientific, technological, ethical, societal, political, and/or environmental issues in a local or global context.
Students must attain the following outcomes:
- Ability to apply mathematics, science and engineering principles.
- Ability to design and conduct experiments, analyze and interpret data.
- Ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs.
- Ability to function on multidisciplinary teams.
- Ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems.
- Understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.
- Ability to communicate effectively.
- The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context.
- Recognition of the need for and an ability to engage in life-long learning.
- Knowledge of contemporary issues.
- Ability to use the techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.
In the context of a developing appreciation for and understanding of literature, expressed over time both orally and in writing, we want our students:
- to be familiar with the traditions of literatures written in the English language in the British Isles, in North America, and across the world;
- to consider the cultural and material circumstances that give rise to specific forms of imaginative expression;
- to be able to articulate how conventions of genre, stylistic choices, and figures of expression shape texts;
- to be conversant with the methodologies of literary scholarship particular to this field;
- to propose arguments that present, develop, and defend insightful claims about texts by presenting formal analysis, historical evidence, and engagement with existing criticism.
We anticipate keeping intact the writing objectives we articulated for our FYS/W courses, as an elaboration of point 5 above. We use them as our writing goals for the curriculum as a whole rather than just for FYSs.
Departmental Writing Objectives:
Students completing English Literature First-Year Seminars should improve their ability to
- develop an interesting, specific, supportable thesis
- marshall an argument that is logical, well-developed, and compelling
- support arguments with textual evidence carefully analyzed
- consider alternative readings or counter-arguments
- when appropriate, use criticism, theory, or cultural backgrounds to support the paper's claims
- craft a conclusion that summarizes and offers new reflections
- use appropriate diction, tone, grammar, spelling, and punctuation
Swarthmore Environmental Studies Program Goals:
Upon completion of an Environmental Studies major, students will be able to
- Tell informed stories that illuminate the human dimension of environmental issues and acknowledge their own position in relation to those issues;
- Demonstrate discipline-specific analytic skills across at least two fields, including the ability to compare and contrast alternative policies and solutions, in order to contribute to interdisciplinary problem-solving;
- Apply multiple tools and concepts to analyze complex environmental problems and overcome the practical challenges of resolving them.
(Please contact the program for the detailed list of learning objectives.)
Film & Media Studies
Students completing a major or minor in FMST should be able to:
- Identify films based on genre, style, historical era, national origin, and/or membership in an art movement
- Articulate key distinctions among film, television, and digital media forms and practices
- Show in discussion and written work a grasp of principal theoretical perspectives on film, television, and digital media
- Write a short (2-4 pp) critical response to a film, television, or digital text demonstrating detailed observational skills as well as a strong grasp of appropriate formal vocabulary and relevant theoretical perspective
- Formulate an advanced research question, conduct extended research using a variety of authoritative print and online sources, and compose a substantial (15-20 pp) paper that successfully articulates and supports its thesis
- Demonstrate adept and meaningful use of production tools
- In their senior year, execute an independent culminating project reflecting their training
Non-FMST students who take one or more of our courses should be able to:
- Use appropriate formal vocabulary and analytic concepts in approaching film and media
- Connect the study of media with other disciplinary approaches
French and Francophone Studies
The French and Francophone Studies Program seamlessly articulates the acquisition of French linguistic skills with cultural and literary knowledge and sensitivity throughout our 4-year curriculum. We provide students with global competence in the Francophone world through an innovative curriculum that combines national and transnational Francophone literatures, cultures and histories, with an emphasis on modern and contemporary periods. Students build a cross-cultural understanding with the goal of participating in an increasingly interconnected world.
Starting with our French language courses (FREN 1 through 14), students are introduced to modern France and a variety of Francophone countries such as Algeria, Belgium, Haiti and Senegal where the French language is used as a mode of written and spoken communication. In our advanced courses (FREN 40 and above), students develop an in-depth, critical and comparative understanding of the textual, filmic, and cultural productions of each of these regions.
Through our course sequencing, French and Francophones studies classes aim to do the following:
(A) Make students proficient in the four fundamental language competencies (listening, reading, speaking and writing), develop a fifth, cultural competency, through explorations of culture and society in France and the Francophone World. This is an important component in achieving global competence as described above.
FREN 1 through FREN 14: In the intensive French language sequence, students develop from beginning to advanced proficiency in the five competencies delineated above.
FREN 15 W and FREN 16: These written and aural/oral competencies are further refined. Students develop an understanding of pertinent literary, filmic, cultural, and socio-political questions in modern French and Francophone societies. They learn to produce coherent, logical and persuasive arguments from a variety of texts and films, and learn to adopt different formats for that purpose (explication de texte, rédaction, research paper, and opEd).
FREN 40 and above: Students demonstrate an extensive and intentional grappling with the specific topic of each course. They are further introduced to comparative methodologies and scholarly criticism, and learn to consistently articulate their reflection in persuasive ways and support their opinions through evidence.
Seminars FREN 100 and above: Students master critical thinking and demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the course topic through student-led discussions and research papers.
Capstone FREN 91 W: Majors and minors demonstrate an appropriate knowledge of the mechanics of scholarly research in French (develop a valid research question and a rigorous and coherent argument, craft an abstract, investigate secondary sources, develop a bibliographical apparatus). This culminating exercise includes the writing in French of an original, independent research paper of 15-30 pages on a topic chosen in discussion with the senior colloquium professor.
LITR courses: These are courses taught in English with all French texts presented in English translation. They are open to all students regardless of their knowledge of French or the Francophone world. Students are expected to demonstrate an extensive and intentional grappling with the specific topic of each course and develop an understanding of France and the Francophone world. They are further introduced to comparative methodologies and scholarly criticism, and learn to consistently articulate their reflection in persuasive ways and support their opinions through evidence. Many LITR courses offer an attachment in French for 0.5 credit in which the course materials are discussed in French.
(B) Expand student’s knowledge of the diversity of French-speaking cultures by:
- Developing a critical appreciation of literary value and filmic expression.
- Developing an appreciation of how French and Francophone writers and artists continue a rich tradition, which has brought the world many influential literary, philosophical, critical, and cinematographic works.
(C) Sharpen knowledge and understanding of the major historical, social, and political developments that have shaped France and the Francophone world, thus providing an opportunity to understand the forces underlying these various cultures, literatures, and films.
Gender and Sexuality Studies
- Students will have a grounding in interdisciplinary methods and approaches to gender and sexuality studies
- Students will recognize the centrality of queer studies, feminist studies, and trans studies to the study of race and power
- Students will be exposed to perspectives on feminist, queer and trans issues globally, as well as frameworks of gender, sexuality, class, race and ethnicity in the United States
- Students will be introduced to challenging binary structures, including structures of sex, sexuality, gender, race, ability
Student Learning Goals
The objective of the History Department is to help students develop the intellectual and analytical skills to think critically about the past and the contemporary world. In addition to the skills of critical reading, thinking, and communication that we expect a liberal arts education to cultivate, the Department affirms the following student learning goals specific to the study of history.
- Students will recognize and appreciate the differentness of the past and the diversity of other cultures and peoples. They will also gain an understanding of the processes and causes of change over time.
- Students will acquire foundational knowledge of, and learn the issues, debates, and interpretations of historians for, significant periods of historical experience in multiple societies and time periods throughout the globe.
- Students will develop the ability to evaluate critically the arguments and analytical methods of historians. They will learn this not only by identifying, comparing, and analyzing the interpretations and approaches of different historians (historiography) but also by developing their own interpretations based on critical assessments of primary-source evidence and independent research.
- Students will learn to assess critically the evidence of the past through first-hand exposure to primary sources and historical research. Students will learn how to conceptualize a historical problem, conduct original research (in archives, microfilm, or online resources), read deeply primary source documents and assess critically various evidence, formulate analytical questions, construct and support original arguments, and connect their arguments to the writings of other historians.
- Students will develop the skills of clear and coherent historical writing as well as careful listening and oral presentation. Students will understand and produce the elements of well-written essays, including the statement of a thesis and the construction of persuasive, well-reasoned, and organized arguments. Students will also learn to confidently make cogent oral arguments about historians' writing, to offer constructive criticism of their peer's work, as well as clear and concise verbal presentations of their own historical interpretations.
The Senior Research Seminar (HIST 091) will serve as the culminating exercise for all History majors, in which they can demonstrate their achievement of these learning goals.
(Note: The department also has an expanded version of their goals, which provides additional details under each goal statement.)
1. Students should be familiar with different methods and theories of interpretation, both within disciplines and between disciplines.
2. Students should be able to offer reasons for and against the use of different methods and theories of interpretation by:
a. explicitly comparing different methods and theories of interpretation, and
b. demonstrating systematic ways of talking about and reflecting on their virtues and vices.
- Students will be able to apply rigorous, sound scientific methodology: how to gather data, form hypotheses, arrange data into paradigms that reflect the hypotheses, test the predictions of the hypotheses on new data, recognize the assumptions the hypotheses are grounded in and test any crucial to the hypotheses, arrive at conclusions.
- Students will be able to properly argue for an analysis with coherent, logical prose.
- Students will be able to apply critical thinking skills necessary to understand and evaluate scholarly work in linguistics.
- Students will possess fundamental factual knowledge about the field of linguistics: its historical development, current theoretical trends, and common standards, practices, and formal notation.
Mathematics and Statistics
Goals and objectives for student learning for the Swarthmore College Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Mathematics and Statistics are among the great achievements of human intellect and at the same time powerful tools. As Galileo said, the book of the universe \is written in the language of mathematics." The goal of the Department is to enable students to appreciate these achievements and use their power. To that end, majors and minors in the Department receive a firm foundation in pure mathematics and the opportunity to apply it - to statistics, physical science, biological science, computer science, social science, operations research, education, and finance - the list grows.
Students typically enter our department with strong skills, but there is always room for improvement and new knowledge. In each course students should gain skills in many of the following broad categories. By the end of a major or minor a student should have achieved substantial growth in all of the categories.
- Reasoning skills: logical argument and abstraction.
- Formulation skills: developing mathematical models.
- Communication skills: expressing mathematical ideas and information clearly and precisely on paper, orally, and electronically.
- Comprehension skills: absorbing mathematical ideas and information presented on paper, orally, and electronically.
- Computation skills: mental, by hand, and by machine, as appropriate.
- Collaboration skills: working effectively with others in the application of all of the skills listed above.
General objectives for all students in mathematics and statistics courses
- In every course, we hope to deepen both students understanding of the subject and their appreciation for the beauty and utility of the subject.
- In every course, we hope to give students the ability to apply the methods and ideas of the course in other contexts: in later math courses, in courses in other disciplines which use the methods and ideas, and in non-course settings such as research or learning beyond school.
General objectives for majors in Mathematics and Statistics
- All majors should exhibit familiarity and competency in the basic curriculum for the first two years: single and multi-variable calculus and lineal algebra.
- Mathematics majors should exhibit familiarity and competency in our core for majors: analysis and algebra.
- Majors with an emphasis in statistics should exhibit familiarity and competency in the alternate core: analysis and mathematical statistics.
- All majors should extend the range of their familiarity and competency to fields covered in one or more advanced electives.
- Majors should be able to use what they have learned in their classes to learn new mathematics on their own.
- Majors should be able to write mathematics with clarity and precision, including both general exposition and carefully presented mathematical argumentation, including rigorous proof.
- Majors should be able to present mathematical material orally, again including both general exposition and carefully presented mathematical argumentation.
- Students will have a grounding in the heart of the period—a study of medieval History.
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of both the tools and texts of their chosen individual areas and disciplines and also their relation to one another.
- Students will develop critical thinking, expository speaking, and formal writing in both individual fields and across fields.
- Students will show a mastery of the fundamental writing tools: engagement with relevant scholarship, argumentative coherence, use of evidence, formal analysis, understanding of historical/cultural context.
The goal statements below reflect the minimum expectations for students completing an Arabic Minor or Special Major in Arabic. Most students go beyond the minimum requirements and therefore achieve higher linguistic and cultural competency than what is outlined.
- Linguistic Competence: Students will attain linguistic proficiency in Arabic across the four skills (speaking, reading, writing, listening) at the Intermediate High level, based on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.
- Cultural Knowledge: Students will gain a general understanding of major historical and cultural developments across the Arabic-speaking world. This knowledge will be cultivated through readings and audio-visual material drawing from literature, politics, history, cinema, music, and other fields.
- Deep Reading and Critical Thinking: Students will learn close reading techniques enabling them to uncover the nuances of Arabic terminology and grammatical structures, while also understanding general content and arguments. Students will be able to communicate their analyses in discussion and writing.
Learning Goals for Majors and Minors
- Language acquisition – students will be able to communicate at second year level according to the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines; they will also integrate targeted language training courses, such as advanced reading, conversation, and Classical Chinese towards their professional and personal goals.
- Interdisciplinary knowledge – students will gain a contextual understanding of China through the section’s wide selection of content courses on pre-modern and modern China spanning across the fields of literature, theater, history, film and media, gender studies, and calligraphy.
- Critical textual engagement – students will develop close reading skills and learn to use theoretical frameworks to analyze a range of source materials.
- Fieldwork – through practicum and attachment courses, students will have the opportunity to interact with Chinese-speaking cultural and community organizations in the greater Philadelphia area and abroad, particularly in Sinophone speaking regions or countries in East Asia.
1. Linguistic Competence
Students enrolling in the beginning German language sequence (Intensive German 1 and 2) should reach a level of interaction with the native speaker that correlates to the “The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)” B2 level. This level requires a conversation on topics that are both concrete and abstract and fluent responses on a wide range of subjects, including explanations of personal viewpoints and a description of the advantages and disadvantages of those viewpoints. A third semester intensive language class aims to prepare students for study abroad at a German University.
2. Content Knowledge
In addition to the language sequence, German Studies offers students a wide variety of courses in language, literature, film, and culture taught in German. Stressing the
interrelatedness of linguistic competency and broad cultural literacy, German Studies classes cover a wide range of literary periods, intellectual history, and film and visual culture. The diverse approaches to German culture(s) prepare students for graduate work in several academic disciplines, as well as for a variety of international careers. Students are expected to develop analytical skills to interpret and appreciate different forms of cultural production, including literature, media and visual arts, and other cultural practices, using various critical and theoretical approaches. In addition to familiarity with historical and literary periods, students should acquire a deeper appreciation of the diverse cultural, political, and socio-historical processes that define the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland).
I. General objectives for Japanese language courses:
Our objective in language teaching is to promote steady progress in all four categories of language competence: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. At the intermediate and advanced level, students will be able to integrate their language learning with knowledge of Japanese culture, society, history, and current events, and to be able to express their opinions and make academic presentations at increasing levels of sophistication as they move through our curriculum. Each of our four levels of core language courses have identified detailed proficiency targets through novice, beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of the ACFL proficiency guidelines for Japanese: please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a copy of our detailed proficiency goals. Core language classes are supplemented by specialized classes in speaking Japanese, reading, and Japanese calligraphy.
II. Goals for Japanese language students at completion of Fourth Year Japanese
- To be able to give a concise and comprehensible explanation of your academic specialty to people outside of your field.
- To broaden your knowledge of Japanese society, culture, and history.
- To be able to draw on various sources of information in Japanese, and to analyze this information critically and comprehensively.
- To be able to use the Japanese language appropriately in different situations as an adult member of society.
III. Objectives for courses taught in English:
A) At the introductory level (courses below level 30) and above, we aim to build on students’ curiosity about Japan by examining works of Japanese literature, film, and other cultural production within historical and cultural context, or to introduce them the core concepts of Japanese Linguistics and to interrogate the relationship of language to society. Students will acquire basic critical skills such as writing analytical papers, expressing opinions through on-line discussions as well as class discussions in both small and large groups, and critically discussing and applying secondary sources including critical and theoretical works.
B) At the intermediate and advanced level (courses level 30 and higher), we investigate more specialized topics, often from an interdisciplinary perspective that includes historical study and discussion of visual as well as textual media. Students are encouraged to work in groups for various projects, including collaborative creative writing and class presentations, and to develop more formal oral presentation skills. In addition, students will hone their critical and organizational skills through lengthier research papers and related projects. To a degree, students should be able to analyze works in historical context and be aware of the social function and media-specific qualities of different works. Students should be capable of making in-class seminar-style presentations and writing medium-length research papers with appropriate use of primary and secondary sources.
IV. Objectives for Japanese minors
Japanese minors combine language coursework at level 004 and above with courses in Japanese culture taught in English. Japanese minors should be able, to a limited extent, to integrate more advanced cultural knowledge of Japan with their study of language. Students should have knowledge of Japanese history, society and culture, and be able to navigate basic social and practical situations with their Japanese.
V. Objectives for Japanese special majors
Japanese special majors should have attained the objectives of language learning outlined in Section I above. Through at least two lower-level and two upper-level courses taught in English, they should have considerable experience with the analytic and presentational skills. Japanese majors should be able to integrate cultural, historical, and social knowledge about Japan with their study of Japanese language. Many special majors will pursue advanced individual study with an advisor through a senior thesis or translation project. Others will revisit course work and further hone their writing and analytic skills through paper rewrites under an advisor. Students will then prepare a written abstract in Japanese, and present and defend their work orally in Japanese. Through the senior work, students will be able to explain their work in Japanese, and learn to integrate both the linguistic and topical aspects of their course of study.
- Students in culture and literature classes will learn and practice techniques for reading or writing in English (or Russian, as appropriate) that will be broadly useful in their future education and lives.
- Students will become familiar with the broad history and achievements of Russian culture, while focusing on individual course topics in greater depth.
- Students will gain insight into their own learning styles and into the experience of cultural difference inspired by contact with Russian culture, language and/or literature.
- Students in language classes and advanced seminars will achieve appropriate levels of proficiency in all four modalities (listening, speaking, reading and writing) at the end of each language course, allowing them concrete practical and intellectual use of the language as well as serving to scaffold future gains in proficiency.
Music (Revised 2018)
Our program has a large and vibrant community of students engaged in music in various ways. Through performance, study. and regular concert-going, these music citizens should emerge with a deeper appreciation of musical aesthetics and understand music as an essential aspect of culture and humanity, to be treasured and nourished at all levels of society. This might be more simply understood as musical engagement in the broadest sense.
I. To foster an understanding of music within the context of the liberal arts, built on a foundation of the student’s aesthetic, cultural and intellectual intuitions.
A) We expect students to develop an understanding of the cultural and aesthetic foundations of particular music periods and styles: in our introductory music courses; in Music 48 through the writing of Music 48 papers; in Music 47 through coachings.
II. To give students the tools to engage actively and critically with music and dance of varying genres.
1. We expect music majors to develop appreciation and insight into multiple music traditions including at least one non-European tradition such as Jazz, African drumming, or Indonesian Gamelan.
2. We expect music majors to explore ethnographic field methods and oral histories in Music and Dance.
3. We expect majors to explore musicological methodologies in both history and theory.
4. Majors should be able to identify a number of important dance genres.
III. To teach students the foundational vocabulary of musical form, structure, and history with which they can fluently contextualize, analyze, and discuss musical works, analytical writings, and music-historical literature.
A) Students in the first year of our program:
1) We expect all students enrolled in the first year of music theory to compose a work in late 18th-century style in a standard form (e.g., Minuet & Trio, Rondo, or Sonata Form) that modulates between several closely related keys. We also expect them to become familiar with standard song form (AABA) and the twelve-bar blues.
2) We require all students enrolled in the first year of theory to have concurrent musicianship training in sight-singing melodies with scale degrees, performing and conducting rhythms, hearing vertically and horizontally through melodic and harmonic dictation, and playing harmonic progressions and simple figured bass at the piano.
3) We expect students enrolled in the music program's entry-level courses to be able to write and speak coherently and eloquently about music. Specifically, students should be able to find the key points of an article or primary source and be able to discuss them orally or in a written response.
B) Students in upper level courses:
1) We expect students taking upper-level history courses to engage in historical research projects in which they identify a thesis statement, develop a research plan, search for materials, and write up their findings using proper disciplinary citations.
2) We expect students enrolled in the second year of music theory to develop facility writing and analyzing chromatic harmony.
3) We require all students enrolled in the second year of theory to have concurrent musicianship training in singing modulatory and chromatic melodies, hearing and singing intervals in tonal and atonal contexts, taking complex harmonic dictation, playing progressions and figured bass with seventh chords, and conducting challenging rhythmic passages.
1) We expect music majors to have keyboard skills proficient enough to perform a two-part Invention of J.S. Bach (or another work of similar difficulty) by their senior year.
IV. To help students attain assuredness (if not mastery) in performance skills by participating first and foremost in Departmental Ensembles, and embracing opportunities to collaborate with other students in chamber music and dance and theater projects.
V. To encourage our students to engage with the world outside of Swarthmore through volunteering, community engagement, and music performance projects such as the Chester Children’s Gamelan Project, Chester Children’s Chorus, Play on, Philly and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
VI. To integrate the primary goals of I-IV in a comprehensive exam for majors. The comprehensive exam gives students the opportunity to integrate performance, analysis, writing and research and demonstrate competency in all. The exam must include a performance of a musical work and a confident oral presentation of the student's semester-long research and analysis of that work before an audience of professors and peers.
Peace & Conflict Studies
Peace and Conflict Studies Program Learning Goals and Objectives:
Students who major or minor in Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore will be able to:
- understand factors shaping human conflict (including psychological, social, cultural, political, economic, biological, religious, and historical factors);
- analyze specific cases of conflict, including interpersonal, intergroup, interstate,and international disputes;
- examine theories and models of peacebuilding and reconciliation and evaluate attempts to conduct, manage, resolve, or transform conflict nonviolently;
- investigate intersectionality; forms of oppression and injustice; and conflict, locally, globally, in the United States, and abroad;
- explore topics relevant to peace and conflict through fieldwork, internships, or other experiences outside the classroom; and
- demonstrate the following skills: critical thinking, analysis, research, writing,communication, and teamwork.
Department of Philosophy: Goals and Objectives for Student Learning
Philosophy is a crucial part of any Liberal Arts education. It deals with basic questions (What are the principles of morality, if any? What can we know and how? What is special, if anything, about humans? Do we have free will? How is the mind related to the body?). The attempt to reach a clearer understanding of such issues, to think about them critically and independently, and to weigh different reasons for and against a given claim are at the core of philosophical activity. Skill in addressing these questions has some very concrete uses in everyday life. For instance: Can one have a healthy democracy without the kind of critical thinking about important questions (e.g.: Can there be a just war?) that philosophy encourages? On a more individual level: Is the unexamined life worth living? If there are good reasons for examining one's own life, then Philosophy is the first address.
There are goals of the curriculum, goals for the Major and for the Minor, and more specific goals for specific courses as well as for specific kinds of students. All of them are informed by the general points indicated above. The following more specific remarks should be taken in the light of the above more general remarks.
Goals for the curriculum
We envisage the goals for the Philosophy curriculum in two ways.
First, we seek to engage students in the activities of philosophical thinking. Students should
- develop a (better) understanding of philosophical questions and problems;
- learn how to clarify a question or claim and how to think independently and creatively about the issue ("Make up your own mind — it's the only one you've got!");
- learn how to come up with their own questions and topics, views and arguments;
- learn to distinguish between good arguments and fallacies and also how to think of arguments for and against a given claim and weigh them against each other.
Second, since Philosophy is a systematic subject with a history and since the history is (in contrast to the natural sciences, for instance) crucial to our current understanding, students should also gain some understanding of this historical dimension.
Philosophy deals with fundamental and important questions, problems and issues (see above) in a way that cannot be replaced by non-philosophical ways of inquiry. Philosophers engage critically with texts from the history of philosophy because these texts present the most systematic, powerful, and influential accounts of norms and commitments together with the most fully articulated arguments for them. In studying the texts in the history of philosophy, students learn about the development of philosophical problems in their context: as responses, revisions, and ruptures from the work that came before them. Engaging critically with the best arguments is itself a central part of developing one's own views.
We aim at helping students to improve several skills:
- to listen and understand what others are saying in a discussion;
- to respond to it in an intelligible and constructive way;
- to become (better) intellectual team-workers;
- to closely read complicated and difficult texts,
- to interpret a text both critically and charitably, reconstruct a claim or an argument;
- to write in a clear, intelligible and reasonable way.
Apart from all that, we also aim to encourage students and help them to start
- doing their own research on a given topic (how to use the library, the web, etc.).
Not all of this has to happen in the class room: Some of our courses are Writing Courses (most of our introductory courses are). The recent initiative of a Speaking Program is a very good idea and a resource that we may be able to utilize in the future. Giving the students the chance to rewrite their essays is also an important aspect. Few students take us up on this offer but those who do seem to benefit greatly from it (writing without rewriting is usually both empty and blind). Directed Readings and other kinds of 1-1 teaching (or 1-few) are also of crucial importance here.
Goals for the Major and for the Minor
We want our Majors to develop a comprehensive grasp of the discipline, including work in the sub-areas that define our distribution requirements: Theoretical Philosophy, Value Theory, and the History of Philosophy.
Apart from breadth, depth (deeper understanding of focal areas) is important, too. We aim to prepare our Graduating Majors, if they do well and if they so choose, to go on to Graduate School either in Philosophy or some related field.
Minors are able to explore one or two sub-areas in depth, without necessarily doing work in all three areas. We want our Minors to be able to supplement their primary course of study with relevant courses in Philosophy.
Goals for specific courses
(see the specific course descriptions in the bulletin and on our departmental webpage)
Goals for specific groups of students
Some of our students are so excellent that one might wonder whether there is anything we can do for them except giving a hint here and there and not standing in the way. Other students are on the other side of the spectrum and in these cases motivational and other issues are so serious that it is not clear again what exactly our impact on them can be; we have to take them case by case and see what we can do. The students in between are in some way the most interesting ones, especially if they realize that they can improve if they invest themselves into the work. Encouraging these students in particular to rewrite essays goes a long way.
And then there are the students who just take one philosophy course. The same aims hold for them. It's only that we calibrate them differently. It is already something to get a student who is taking a Philosophy course just for the HU credit and because it is convenient with respect to their schedule to discover how interesting Philosophy is.
Physics and Astronomy
Learning Goals for Physics and Astronomy majors at Swarthmore College
Top-level Goals for Major Program
- Students will show mastery of the physics and astronomy content goals enumerated in the individual course syllabi for the required courses for the major. Students will be able to solve homework and especially exam problems related to particular physical laws or principles, e.g. Gauss's law or conservation laws.
- Students will gain an understanding of the nature and breadth of contemporary open questions in physics and/or astronomy.
- Students will experience the scientific process, and the nature of the interplay of theory and experiment, in contemporary physics and astronomy. One way that students can gain this experience is by doing research.
- Students will develop and exhibit the learning, problem-solving, communication, and laboratory skills enumerated below.
- Problem-solving skills:
A student should be able to . . .
- translate a physical description into a mathematical equation, and conversely, explain the physical meaning of the mathematics.
- represent the key elements of a physical situation with a sketch.
- choose, apply, and justify appropriate problem-solving techniques in novel contexts. For all students these techniques include approximations and symmetries, and as students advance, their techniques will come to include series expansions, multivariable integration, differential equations, and linear algebra.
- articulate expectations for, and justify reasonableness of, problem solutions, including both dimensional analysis and numerical values.
- devise an algorithm for solving a problem numerically, and translate that algorithm into a working computer program.
- Learning skills:
A student should be able to . . .
- articulate the fundamental ideas from each chapter, section, and/or lecture.
- see the physical relationships in the course as both coherent and broadly applicable, evidenced by being able to use these physical relationships to solve a range of problems, including ones in novel contexts.
- demonstrate awareness of what he/she doesn't understand, evidenced by asking sophisticated, specific questions, articulating where they experience difficulty, and taking actions to move beyond that difficulty.
- work productively in a group to solve problems, including asking questions and giving constructive feedback to others.
- build on the material learned in earlier courses on the same topics and make connections to material on nominally different topics.
- Communication skills:
A student should be able to . . .
- write clearly and persuasively about an experiment, calculation, or observation, following the conventions of scientific writing.
- design and give a clear presentation, with a well-supported argument, aimed at the appropriate level for a variety of different audiences.
- effectively and supportively critique their own and other students' arguments and presentations.
- Laboratory skills
A student should be able to . . .
- explain the connection between a measurement of a natural phenomenon and the experimental apparatus and tasks of a laboratory exercise. The explanation will exhibit an understanding of the theory behind the experiment, an understanding of the experimental equipment, and an assessment of the accuracy of the technique.
- devise a strategy for analyzing quantitative data to obtain a desired result, including characterizing the precision, accuracy, and robustness of the result (i.e. understanding how sensitive the results are to various types of errors, both measurement and fitting errors, and identifying the appropriate way to fit the data that takes error into account).
- troubleshoot an experiment, i.e., identify the sources of something producing an unexpected result or not working at all.
- use a software environment (Mathematica, MATLAB, etc.) to do fairly sophisticated numerical calculations and/or data analysis, as well as graphing and fitting data.
- analyze experimental data to determine best-fit parameters and reasonable error estimates on those parameters from the data, and be able to judge whether or not a given relation is an acceptable fit to the data given the uncertainties.
- reflect on results of an experiment and discuss whether the experiment was successful.
- Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental political processes, institutions, actors, and relationships, and the theoretical concepts and ideas that move them;
- Demonstrate a familiarity with major theorists and theories, methods and concepts in Political Science and several of its major subfields;
- Demonstrate proficiency in thinking systematically and historically about political actors and interactions in national, regional, global and international contexts;
- Demonstrate proficiency in thinking critically and creatively about the ethical dimensions of politics;
- Write effectively in making strong, evidence-backed arguments, engage in intellectually grounded oral debate and discussion, and form and express cogently formulated arguments and interpretations;
- Synthesize, analyze, and critically evaluate major arguments in the discipline as a whole and in major subfields of the discipline;
- Assess original and secondary sources of argument and evidence and apply scholarship to new areas of research;
- Develop abilities to engage with the broader world, applying disciplinary knowledge to understand and possibly shape political processes, institutions, and discourse.
Psychology Department Goals and Objectives for Student Learning
Developed Spring 2012
In addition to foundational and advanced coursework in the field, psychology students at Swarthmore are provided with the opportunity to engage in various forms of practice-based learning, which the Department considers an essential ingredient to a well-rounded undergraduate education in psychology. These opportunities include both community-based learning courses, in which students engage in research and clinical practice in external settings, and research-based courses conducted on campus, such as our practicum-based courses and senior thesis. In addition to providing students with the skills and experience critical to admission to graduate programs in a number of social and natural science programs, these courses are intended to equip students with the knowledge and wisdom to become more sophisticated consumers of information presented in the media and other sources. We have conducted evaluations of these courses, which point to their general success in achieving our goals, though we realize that their ultimate worth may not been realized by students until well after graduation -- at a time in which the lessons we impart may be most applicable.
In terms of specific learning goals, the Department has recently identified seven, drawing heavily on guidelines suggested by the American Psychological Association for the Undergraduate Psychology Major (see http://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/about/psymajor-guidelines.pdf). Over the next academic year, we intend to identify a few of these goals for formal evaluation, recognizing that during that process, the precise wording of some goals may be altered, even as the spirit of the goals themselves remains unchanged.
The goals are as follows:
Goal 1: Knowledge Base of Psychology
Students will demonstrate familiarity with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in psychology.
Goal 2: Research Methods in Psychology
Students will understand and apply basic research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis, and interpretation, as well as learning how to access and evaluate sources of scientific evidence in the field.
Goal 3: Critical Skills in Psychology
Students will respect and use critical and creative thinking, skeptical inquiry, and, whenever possible, the scientific approach to solve problems related to behavior and mental processes.
Goal 4: Application of Psychology
Students will understand and apply psychological principles, where relevant, to personal, social, and organizational issues, as well as to questions of public policy.
Goal 5: Values in Psychology
Students will be able to weigh evidence, tolerate ambiguity, act ethically, and reflect other values that are the underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
Goal 6: Communication Skills
Students will be able to communicate psychological concepts effectively in a variety of formats, including written and oral.
Goal 7: Sociocultural and International Awareness
In their coursework and research in psychology, students will recognize, understand, and respect the complexity of sociocultural and international diversity.
Students Majoring in Religion at Swarthmore are expected to:
1) Gain strong familiarity with at least one religious tradition, be able to recognize its manifestations in text and in culture, and be able to engage in informed discussion of its beliefs, history, and practice, as well as of issues and questions that accrue to its study.
2) Acquire exposure to at least one additional religious tradition, the founding ideas and practices of which are foreign to those of the tradition that forms the student’s primary focus.
3) Show proficiency in a variety of disciplinary approaches to the study of religion (e.g. philosophical, anthropological, and historical), recognize and distinguish them when they are met in secondary sources, understand their strengths and weaknesses, critique their application to various phenomena, lay a foundation for their critical integration in a broader understanding of the nature of religion.
4) Carry out sustained research on a topic that integrates classroom exposure with original investigation.
5) Recognize the diversity, historically and geographically, of religious traditions; cultivate cultural literacy; demonstrate moral reasoning; practice civic engagement; and demonstrate sensitivity to the varieties of religious expressions and the integrity of religious insight; utilize students’ exposure to unfamiliar traditions and practices to clarify their own assumptions and the perspectives they bring to their studies.
Sociology and Anthropology
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology aims to teach its students the value of critical thinking in understanding systems of meanings and social relationships. A central part of our mission is to educate the students about the value of ethnographic research and systematic analysis of empirical data in generating accurate and compelling research findings that help them understand contemporary pressing social issues, cultural meanings, and collective identities. Our broad goals include:
1. Students will be able to understand the similar and different ways that anthropologists and sociologists approach issues of culture, social structures, identity, and practice. This will include:
- Understanding the ways in which categories of difference are culturally constructed.
- Exploring the relationships between difference, power, and inequality.
- Formulating the connections between culture, identity, and practice at both everyday and structural levels.
- Critically relate these connections to broader socio-economic and political processes, such as nationalism, colonialism, globalization, and transnationalism.
- Engage with and critically assess key writings in anthropology and sociology.
2. Students will be able to identify the major figures in both anthropology and sociology and be familiar with the range of theoretical and methodological tools available to the two disciplines.
3. All seniors will complete a two-credit thesis that shows their ability to:
- Formulate a research question that speaks to their specific interests as well as to the broader debates and concerns in the two fields.
- Select a research method(s) that would allow them to productively explore their topics.
- Conduct independent original research.
- Understand and abide by the ethical codes of our two disciplines.
- Prepare a thorough review of scholarly literature on their thesis topic.
- Critically and thoughtfully relate anthropological and/or sociological theories to the data they collect.
- Present a lucid, compelling, intellectually-engaging, and analytically-informed argument.
Learning Goals for the Major and Minor
1. Linguistic Competence. Students will achieve an advanced level of communication in Spanish using a variety of linguistic registers, acquiring a more idiomatic use of the language, and writing accurately and effectively in academic Spanish.
2. Critical Thinking. Students will develop analytical skills to interpret and appreciate different texts including literature, media and visual arts, and other cultural practices, using various critical and theoretical approaches.
3. Content Knowledge. Students will acquire knowledge of a range of literary movements and historical periods from Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Hispanic Caribbean, as well as those of Latino/a communities in the United States.
4. Cultural Awareness. Students will gain an informed appreciation of the complex and diverse cultural, political, and socio-historical processes that shape the Spanish-speaking world.
Knowledge Goals and Tools for Thinking
- Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of theater history, seminal dramatic literature, and influential theory.
- Students will develop the tools necessary to become an attentive, engaged and discerning audience for performance. They will be able to discuss and write about performance with the clarity, lucidity, and intellectual rigor borne of paying close to attention to the details of a particular piece on its own terms while simultaneously situating that piece within larger historical, artistic, and cultural contexts.
Practical Expression in the Art-form
- Students will demonstrate a high level of skill in at least one of the following concentrations: acting, directing, playwriting, design, solo performance and dramaturgy.
- Students will develop their own unique artistic vision and learn how to articulate this vision.
- Students will demonstrate facility in working within the collaborative context that theater-making demands. As such, they will learn to think fluidly and creatively, able to synthesize and reshape ideas in conversation with fellow artists and practitioners.
- Students will recognize theater as the communal activity that it is. They will seek ways to use the shared experience of theater-making and theater-going to strengthen and effect change in the communities in which they live and work.