Structure of the Core

The liberally educated person is one who is free from a narrowness of interest, which results from excessive specialization. Therefore, the College offers a selection of Core courses that introduce you to, and cultivate your respect for, several principal, interdisciplinary areas of learning called the Core Curriculum.

Fisher’s Core Curriculum is comprised of two tiers of study: foundations and perspectives. Core courses carry a two-character designation in the course title.

  • Learning Community (LC)
  • Research-Based Writing (RW)
  • Scientific and Quantitative Learning (SQ)
  • Cultural Contrasts (CC)
  • Perspectives in the Arts (P1)
  • Philosophical and Religious Perspectives (P2)
  • Sociocultural Perspectives (P3)
  • Explorations of the Natural and Technical World (P4)
  • Intercultural Perspectives and Languages (P5)

Foundations Tier

The foundations tier core course requirements are designed to provide the knowledge and skills necessary for success in college. Five foundations courses are required, for a total of 15 credit hours. This includes two linked courses from your Learning Community, which account for a minimum of 6 credit hours.

Learning Community (LC)

In your Learning Community, faculty from two different academic disciplines teach two linked courses sharing a common theme, giving you the opportunity to learn about a topic from at least two perspectives. Learning Communities target writing, discussion, research, and group work skills as the first step in improving your ability to succeed in college.

Minimum 6 credits

Skills used: Writing, information literacy, multiple perspectives

Research-based Writing (RW)

In this course, you'll learn the basics of writing an academic research paper, beginning with the process of conducting scholarly research using the College’s databases. Faculty members emphasize the elements of persuasive argumentation, different ways of incorporating multiple scholarly perspectives into one’s writing, the proper use and documentation of sources, and revision. You'll also learn how to make an effective oral presentation of your research.

Usually taken spring, freshman year

Minimum 3 credits

Skills used: Research, oral communication, information literacy

Scientific and Quantitative Literacy (SQ)

In this course, you will explore the ways in which quantitative and scientific thinking can help you make more-informed decisions. You will ask questions to test hypotheses, and make conclusions based on observation and objectivity. Quantitative methods, such as the representation and analysis of data, are key.

Note: Mathematics and sciences majors may satisfy the SQ core requirement by completing one of a number of specified clusters of courses in the sciences.

Minimum 3 credits

Skills used: Critical thinking and analytical skills, complex problem-solving, quantitative/scientific reasoning

Cultural Contrasts (CC)

The demands of today’s work environment require communication, cooperation, and collaboration among individuals of diverse backgrounds. In this course, you will explore cultural differences that promote self-reflection in order to develop tools for becoming an engaged citizen in a multicultural world.

Minimum 3 credits

Skills used:Critical thinking and analytical skills

Perspectives Tier

The perspectives tier core course requirements are designed to provide a wide range of experiences with fundamental academic perspectives on human nature and the world. Ten perspectives tier courses are required, two from each of the five different perspectives.

Perspectives on the Arts (P1)

In Perspectives on the Arts, you will learn some of the tools necessary for fully appreciating the depth and scope of creative expression found in the literary and visual arts. Works of art will be studied in terms of their cultural and historical provenance, formal compositions, and other theoretical and critical perspectives. You will gain skills that will allow you to describe and interpret works of art, as well as create original works of art.

Minimum 6 credits

Skills used: Critical thinking and analytical skills

Philosophical and Religious Perspectives (P2)

This core area engages you in the critical exploration and appreciation of these perspectives through the lens of various philosophical and religious frameworks. These courses also encourage reflection on the social, political, and cultural implications of the course material studied and will do so within the framework of personal and civic responsibility.

Minimum 6 credits

Skills used: Critical thinking and analytical skills, ethical reasoning

Socio-cultural Perspectives (P3)

Socio-cultural Perspectives courses provide you with the opportunity to learn some of the approaches frequently used in social science toward understanding, explaining, and interpreting patterns across the broad scope of human behavior (i.e. individual, societal, cultural, economic, political). Some courses look at individual human behaviors, some trace patterns of sociocultural change, and some take a cross-cultural perspective.

Minimum 6 credits

Skills used: Critical thinking and analytical skills, multiple perspectives

Explorations of the Natural and Technical World courses (P4)

The courses in this core area allow you to explore specific scientific, mathematical, and technical topics, and relate them to historical and contemporary developments. Topics cover general principles underlying science and mathematics, as well as specific areas of interest. These courses will illustrate how mathematics and the sciences are constantly changing as a result of their interactions with each other and their applications.

Minimum 6 credits

Skills used: Critical thinking and analytical skills, quantitative/scientific reasoning

Intercultural Perspectives and Languages (P5)

In order to function and thrive in a multicultural society, you must explore intercultural perspectives. These courses offer opportunities for you to do just that. Systematic explorations of culture and global issues, along with immersion in a new language, encourage the development of knowledge and skills needed to successfully navigate a complicated world.

Note: BA students must take two foreign language courses in sequence in the same language.

Minimum 6 credits

Skills used: Critical thinking and analytical skills, oral communication

Detailed information about Core Requirements (including degree requirements for graduation and academic honors) is available in the Undergraduate Catalog.