Ursinus College Catalog

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Common Intellectual Experience

The goals of the two Common Intellectual Experience Seminars (CIE-100 and CIE-200) are 1) to develop a student’s ability to think critically through a pedagogy which stresses the intellectual process; 2) to foster the essential skills of critical reading, effective speaking and clear writing; 3) to develop these skills within the intellectually challenging context of three broad questions relevant to the human condition; 4) to enable the student to make connections across the traditional disciplines; and 5) to promote a shared intellectual endeavor for all entering students.

All students are required to enroll in CIE-100 and CIE-200 during the fall and spring, respectively, of their first year. (In unusual circumstances, students, with permission of the Office of the Dean, may take CIE in the second year.)

While Common Intellectual Experience Seminars have an enrollment limited to 16 students to provide an atmosphere conducive to discovery and inquiry, the small sections meet together, from time to time, for common events. Faculty members from all disciplines lead students to reflect about significant issues that introduce them to the intellectual climate of the College. Reading assignments consist of seven or eight books or equivalents. Frequent writing and oral assignments are required throughout the course.


CIE-100. Common Intellectual Experience I Faculty

The first of a two-semester course introducing inquiry into the central questions of a liberal education: what does it mean to be human? How should we live our lives? What is the universe and how do we fit into it? The course will explore these questions through the study of foundational texts in a variety of disciplines. The first semester begins with ancient times and concludes with the advent of modern science. Four hours per week. Four semester hours. (CIE)

CIE-200. Common Intellectual Experience II Faculty

This course brings the inquiry of CIE-100 (CIE I) into the modern era. Specifically, the semester begins with the Enlightenment and concludes with a consideration of contemporary situations. The main questions of CIE-100 will continue to be explored through the study of foundational and contemporary texts from many disciplines. Four hours per week. Four semester hours. (CIE)

CIE-300. Common Intellectual Experience III Faculty

This course allows deeper exploration into issues and texts encountered in CIE-100 and CIE-200. While the topics may vary each semester, this seminar will be a discussion-oriented, interdisciplinary course that permits engagement with themes in a more sustained and focused manner. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (Possible D or G, depending on the topic.)

Note: This course may be taken more than once.