Common Intellectual Experience

All Majors & Minors

Phoebe Keleher

Class Year



Winchester, MA




My “aha” moment

I remember that I really started to understand the purpose of CIE when we were reading Mencius and I came across the quote: “Human nature is good, just as water seeks low ground. There is no man who is not good, just as there is no water that does not flow downward.” Mencius is saying that goodness is an inherent quality in humans; it is a powerful force that is present in all of us just like gravity. I think that curiosity is similar to goodness in that we are all born with it, we just need to nurture these instincts, and classes like CIE do just that. I loved this quote when I first read it and I still remember it today and the ways in which it made me think, and I’m grateful that CIE allowed me to study meaningful passages like this one.

How did CIE help you form personal connections on campus?

CIE is a great class because it randomly throws a bunch of freshman together without regard for factors like race, gender, sexuality, major, athletics, or activities. Then students see how easy it is to make friends with people with whom they have nothing in common. CIE is better than any orientation event or ice breaker game because you really get to know what your fellow students are thinking about and what their opinions are. You might not make any best friends in that class but it’s a great opportunity for getting to know people who you might not otherwise.

How did CIE change or challenge your view on something?

I don’t think that any of my views have changed because of CIE but the class definitely challenged some of them. It’s important to have classes that force you to come out of your comfort zone and read things that you would otherwise avoid. While my views are still the same I have a different perspective because of the conversations I’ve had and the many texts that I read in CIE. 

What you should really know about CIE…

Even if you don’t think you’ll be interested in the class you should still make an effort to read the texts and participate in class discussions. Some texts will definitely surprise you and help you form opinions that you’ll carry around with you to other classes, and you’ll make connections through the literature that will improve your education in and out of CIE. 

CIE is a great class for discussing topics that are relevant in today’s society and connecting them with the most important works of all time.