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Collegiate Seminar

Body

A small group of students and a professor sit around atableand talk about texts.

The pedagogy is shared inquiry, in which students, with the faculty facilitator, work to learn from shared texts and from each other.

Classroom discussion on a round table

They talk about ideas as living things.

They talk about the present as an extension of the past. They see the future in texts that are centuries old. They delight in the process of inquiry, the pleasure of approaching a problem from every possible angle, the thrill of joining an ancient, essential conversation about what we can know and how we ought to live.

Students in a seminar class

The Collegiate Seminar is the heart of ձ Mary's core curriculum.

It consists of a series of required courses that give every student a firm foundation in the liberal arts. Each course in the sequence examines major works across time and cultures: works of literature and philosophy, history and political theory, art and science.

In addition, elective seminars are offered, such as Multicultural Thought and World Traditions. These provide a survey of multicultural writing from various regions and a consideration of works from Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and indigenous traditions.

Core Courses

This first seminar develops the skills of critical thinking, critical reading and writing, and shared inquiry that are foundational to Collegiate Seminar. Students learn strategies for engaging with a diversity of texts, asking meaningful questions, and effectively participating in collaborative discussions.

Reading and writing assignments are specifically designed to support students' gradual development of these strategies and skills. This seminar considers questions such as What is a person? and What is a good person?

The reading list is current but subject to modification. From some texts selections are read.

Reading List

  • Ursula K Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”
  • N.K. Jemisin, "The Ones Who Stay and Fight"
  • Plato, "Allegory of the Cave"
  • Sophocles, The Three Theban Plays: Antigone
  • Robin Wall Kimmerer, Essays
  • Jane Goodall, Through a Window
  • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
  • Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
  • Epictetus, The Enchiridion
  • Julia Alvarez, Yo!
  • Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All be Feminists
  • Art Spiegelman, Maus
  • ձ Augustine, Confessions
  • Confucius, The Analects
  • Jhumpa Lahiri, “The Third and Final Continent”

Employing and building upon the strategies of critical thinking, critical reading, and shared inquiry learned in the first seminar, in this seminar students will consider questions such as What is a good society? and What is a person's place in the world?

The reading list is current but subject to modification. From some texts selections are read.

Reading List

  • Frida Kahlo, “Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair”
  • Miguel de Unamuno, “St. Emmanuel the Good, Martyr”
  • Martin Luther King, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
  • Thucydides, “Pericles’ Funeral Oration” and “The Melian Dialogue”
  • Hobbes, Leviathan(selections)
  • Locke, Second Treatise on Government(selections)
  • Supreme Court of the U.S., Korematsu v. US: 323 U.S. 214
  • Morrison, “Goodness and the Literary Imagination”and “On Becoming a Writer”
  • Mencius,Book of Master Meng(selections)
  • Achebe, Things Fall Apart
  • Bernardino de Sahagún, The Florentine Codex(selections)
  • Ibn al-Haytham, The Book of Optics(selections)
  • Maxine Hong Kingston, “No Name Woman”
  • Galileo Galilei,The Starry Messenger(selections) and Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina
  • Stanley Milgram, “Behavioral Study of Obedience”
  • Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto
  • Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes
  • Wu Cheng’en, Monkey King: Journey to the West
  • Gloria Anzalduá, Borderlands/La Frontera
  • Aristophanes, Lysistrata
  • Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis

Employing and building upon the strategies of critical thinking, critical reading, and shared inquiry learned in the first seminar, in this seminar students will consider questions such as What is a good society? and What is a person's place in the world?

The reading list is current but subject to modification. From some texts selections are read.

Reading List

  • Frida Kahlo, “Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair”
  • Miguel de Unamuno, “St. Emmanuel the Good, Martyr”
  • Martin Luther King, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
  • Thucydides, “Pericles’ Funeral Oration” and “The Melian Dialogue”
  • Hobbes, Leviathan(selections)
  • Locke, Second Treatise on Government(selections)
  • Supreme Court of the U.S., Korematsu v. US: 323 U.S. 214
  • Morrison, “Goodness and the Literary Imagination”and “On Becoming a Writer”
  • Mencius,Book of Master Meng(selections)
  • Achebe, Things Fall Apart
  • Bernardino de Sahagún, The Florentine Codex(selections)
  • Ibn al-Haytham, The Book of Optics(selections)
  • Maxine Hong Kingston, “No Name Woman”
  • Galileo Galilei,The Starry Messenger(selections) and Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina
  • Stanley Milgram, “Behavioral Study of Obedience”
  • Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto
  • Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes
  • Wu Cheng’en, Monkey King: Journey to the West
  • Gloria Anzalduá, Borderlands/La Frontera
  • Aristophanes, Lysistrata
  • Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis

Employing and building upon the strategies of critical thinking, critical reading, and shared inquiry learned in the previous seminar(s), in this seminar students will consider questions such as What is worth living for? What is worthy of leaving as a legacy? and How should one think about the future?

Core Courses (Old Sequence)

Employing and building upon the strategies of critical thinking, critical reading, and shared inquiry learned in previous seminars, students will read, write about and discuss a selection of Renaissance, 17th, 18th and 19th century texts from the Western tradition.

The reading list is current but subject to modification. From some texts selections are read.

Reading List

  • Maps, c. 1500, contemporary and historical
  • John Donne, “The Good Morrow”
  • Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
  • Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian
  • ernardino de Sahagún, Florentine Codex
  • Francisco de Vitoria, On the Indians
  • Marguerite de Navarre, Selections from the Heptameron
  • William Shakespeare, King Lear
  • René Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy
  • Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
  • Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, The Answer
  • Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Turkish Embassy Letters
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman
  • Edgar Allan Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death”
  • Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto
  • Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
  • Charles Dickens, Hard Times
  • Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
  • Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground
  • Maps, c. 1850-1900 contemporary and historical

Building on the Western tradition explored in the second and third seminars, readings focus on the Great Conversation of the modern world, which includes the West but also includes important intercultural and global voices.

The course focuses on issues of significant relevance for a 21st century student, as well as texts that allow for integrative thinking across the entire Collegiate Seminar sequence. The last portion of the course will include students reflecting on what they have learned and how they have grown, revisiting the steps of their intellectual development in a capstone experience.

The reading list is current but subject to modification. From some texts selections are read.

Reading List

  • Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols
  • Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
  • Miguel de Unamuno, "ձ Emmanuel the Good, Martyr"
  • Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
  • Hong Xiao, “Hands”
  • Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait With Cropped Hair
  • Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky, Composition VII
  • Paul Jackson Pollock, Convergence
  • Mahatma Gandhi, Writings
  • Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
  • Stanley Milgram, “Behavioral Study of Obedience”
  • Paul Celan, “Death Fugue”
  • Yevgeny Yevtushenko, “Babi Yar”
  • Nelson Mandela, “I Am Prepared to Die”
  • Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
  • Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes
  • Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons”
  • Frantz Fanon, “On Violence”
  • Hannah Arendt, On Violence
  • Thomas Merton, Contemplation in a World of Action
  • Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1978 Harvard Address
  • Andrea Dworkin, Selections from Pornography
  • Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise”
  • Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference”
  • Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands
  • Tony Kushner, Angels in America: Part One: Millennium Approaches
  • Tony Kushner, Angels in America: Part Two: Perestroika
  • Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis
  • Jhumpa Lahiri, “The Third and Final Continent”

Optional Courses

This elective seminar pursues the study of a broad range of authors, mainly from the Americas but also including several from non-European traditions.

The Multicultural Thought reading list tends to vary somewhat from year to year. Shown below is the Spring 18 list.

Reading List:

  • OctaviaButler,Parable of the Sower
  • Ta-NehisiCoates,Between the World and Me
  • Junot Diaz,Drown
  • Rigoberto González, Butterfly Boy
  • Fae MyenneNg,Bone
  • Select essays/poems from the following texts
  • Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/ La Frontera
  • Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman (Eds.)Colonize This! : Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism
  • Mary Crow Dog and Richard Erdoes,Lakota Woman
  • Nayyirah Waheed,Salt

This course, taught in Spring, may substitute for SEM 303by emailingregoff@stmarys-ca.edu.

This course is currently not being taught. Check in later for updates.

The Co-leader Apprenticeship is a 1-CU course for experienced seminar students.

In the Co-leader Apprenticeship, experienced seminar students assist faculty as co-leaders in seminar classes. They serve as facilitators and models in seminars theyhave already completed. This course may be repeated for credit.

Learn more.

Learning Outcomes

Critical thinking within Seminar is grounded on the processes of analysis, synthesis and evaluation necessary to read with understanding. Through careful reading, listening, and reflection, which lead to a solid understanding of the texts, critical thinking allows students to make perceptive insights and connections between texts, Seminars and ultimately their life experiences. Critical thinking within Seminar also includes skills that allow for sound judgments to be made when multiple, competing viewpoints are possible. Seminar is a place where reading critically is transformed and integrated into a habit of mind, providing students with the tools to question the authority of the text and the foundations of their own assumptions. In short, critical thinking allows students to recognize, formulate and pursue meaningful questions, which are not only factual but also interpretive and evaluative, about the ideas of others as well as their own.

Critical Thinking Learning Outcomes:As a result of their participation in the Collegiate Seminar Program, students will grow in their ability to:

  1. Distinguish the multiple senses of a text (literal and beyond the literal).
  2. Identify and understand assumptions, theses, and arguments that exist in the work of authors.
  3. Evaluate and synthesize evidence in order to draw conclusions consistent with the text. Seek and identify confirming and opposing evidence relevant to original and existing theses.
  4. Ask meaningful questions and originate plausible theses.
  5. Critique and question the authority of texts, and explore the implications of those texts.

A mind is not truly liberated until it can effectively communicate what it knows. Thus the Collegiate Seminar Program seeks to develop strong written and oral communication skills in its students. Students will develop skills that demonstrate an understanding of the power of language to shape thought and experience. They will learn to write and speak logically, with clarity, and with originality, and grow in their intellectual curiosity through the process of writing.

Written and Oral Communication Learning Outcomes: As a result of their participation in the Collegiate Seminar Program, students will grow in their ability to:

  1. Recognize and compose readable prose, as characterized by clear and careful organization, coherent paragraphs and well-constructed sentences that employ the conventions of Standard Written English and appropriate diction.
  2. Recognize and formulate effective written and oral communication, giving appropriate consideration to audience, context, format, and textual evidence.
  3. Analyze arguments so as to construct ones that are well supported (with appropriate use of textual evidence), are well reasoned, and are controlled by a thesis or exploratory question.
  4. Use discussion and the process of writing to enhance intellectual discovery and unravel complexities of thought.

Shared inquiry is the act of reasoning together about common texts, questions, and problems. It is a goal of Collegiate Seminar to advance students' abilities to develop and pursue meaningful questions in collaboration with others, even in the context of confusion, paradox, and/or disagreement. Through the habits of shared inquiry students will carefully consider and understand the perspectives and reasoned opinions of others, reconsider their own opinions, and develop rhetorical skills.

Shared Inquiry Learning Outcomes:As a result of their participation in the Collegiate Seminar Program, students will grow in their ability to:

  1. Advance probing questions about a common text or other objects of study.
  2. Pursue new and enriched understandings of the texts through sustained collaborative inquiry.
  3. Reevaluate initial hypotheses in light of evidence and collaborative discussion with the goal of making considered judgments.
  4. Engage in reflective listening and inclusive, respectful conversation.
Korth Arcade outside Seminar and Ministry offices

Contact us

Come see, email, or call us with your questions or concerns. We are located in the South Arcade bell tower archway, next to the Brother Gary York Seminar classroom (opposite Mission & Ministry).

For specific questions please contact:

Program Director:
Hilda Ma
hm1@stmarys-ca.edu
(925) 631-4132

Program Manager:
Melissa Benham
mrb15@stmarys-ca.edu
(925) 631-4633

For general questions please email us at:
collegiateseminar@stmarys-ca.edu