The Foundations Curriculum


In the Fall of 2007, the Foundations Curriculum, an academic curriculum that establishes a new approach to the study of the liberal arts and sciences at the College, was fully implemented. The Foundations Curriculum was adopted by the Faculty in order to achieve several goals:

  1. To assist students to understand the goals of a liberal arts education and to take greater responsibility for their education. The curriculum gives students greater freedom to follow their academic interests and aspirations within a framework of Foundation requirements that are fundamental to the study of the liberal arts;
  2. To provide a more transparent and streamlined curriculum by framing the degree requirements in terms of skills and content areas;
  3. To bring greater focus to the courses students take and to recognize that their activities inside and outside the classroom should be mutually informative and energizing;
  4. To create the opportunity to offer more courses reflective of the scholarly interests of the faculty and to develop innovative courses that respond to the developing currents in contemporary thought; and,
  5. To establish four courses as the standard load per semester in order to allow for a more focused educational experience for all of our students. The Foundations curriculum enhances the way in which the four components of the Rhodes education work together: the Foundation requirements (commonly referred to as “F1”, “F2”, etc.), the concentration in a Major, the choice of elective courses, and participation in co-curricular activities.

The Foundation of the Liberal Arts Requirements

The Foundation requirements establish a framework for liberal education and life-long learning. Unless mentioned otherwise in the description, Foundation requirements will be met by taking one course specified as meeting that requirement, and most requirements will have courses in several different departments that do so.
Upon completion of the requirements and the attainment of a Bachelor’s degree from Rhodes, each graduate of the College should be able to:

  1. Critically examine questions of meaning and value. Questions about the meaning and purpose of life are central to human existence. Every area of the Rhodes curriculum touches in some way upon such problems and questions, whether directly as in moral philosophy, epic poetry, and political thought, or indirectly as in studies of the history of medieval Europe, economic theory, and the physical structure of the universe. This requirement is to be satisfied with three courses, either the Search sequence or the Life sequence.
  2. Develop excellence in written communication. The ability to express concise and methodical arguments in clear and precise prose is essential to success in most courses at Rhodes and in most of the vocations Rhodes graduates pursue. This requirement will be satisfied by one writing seminar (taken in the first year) and two writing intensive courses, one of which will be in Search or Life.
  3. Understand how historical forces have shaped human cultures. Examining the responses of individuals and societies to change over time helps us understand the processes of transformation that affect all human cultures. It also provides new perspectives on the present.
  4. Read and interpret literary texts. Literary texts provide challenging and influential representations of human experience in its individual, social, and cultural dimensions. Critical and sensitive reading of significant works refines analytical skills and develops an awareness of the power of language.
  5. Participate in the analysis of artistic expression or in the performance or production of art. Humans powerfully express their observations, questions, and emotions in artistic ways. These expressions take various aural, visual, and literary forms including art, theater, music, and film. Creation and analysis are the most effective method of learning to understand and interpret art.
  6. Gain facility with mathematical reasoning and expression. Some human experiences are most effectively expressed in mathematical language, and important areas of intellectual inquiry rely on mathematics as a tool of analysis and as a means of conveying information.
  7. Explore and understand scientific approaches to the natural world. Our world is profoundly influenced by a scientific understanding of the physical realm of our existence. From every day matters to major questions of public policy, students have a personal and social responsibility to make informed decisions involving science. The ability to make such decisions hinges not simply on knowledge of scientific facts, but also on understanding the powerful methods by which this knowledge is obtained. The courses that satisfy this requirement must include a laboratory.
  8. Explore and understand the systematic analysis of human interaction and contemporary institutions. Human development, thought, and aspiration occur within societies, and those societies are shaped by various social and political institutions. Familiarity with the systematic analysis of contemporary institutions is an important component of a sound understanding of the world and is a foundation for responsible citizenship.
  9. View the world from more than one cultural perspective. In order to live and work effectively in a culturally diverse world, liberally educated individuals cultivate the ability to view and understand issues and events from cultural perspectives that differ from their own. This ability requires in-depth analysis of issues that bring to the forefront similarities and differences in cultural values, beliefs, world views and/or identities.
  10. Develop intermediate proficiency in a second language. The study of a second language opens the possibility of engagement with people and texts of other cultures. This requirement may be met by passing a proficiency test at Rhodes that certifies proficiency above the 201 level in one of the languages offered by the Departments of Modern Languages and Literatures and Greek and Roman Studies. The proficiency requirement may also be fulfilled by taking the appropriate language courses at Rhodes through the third semester (201). Students for whom English is a second language may have this requirement waived.
  11. Participate in activities that broaden connections between the classroom and the world. Rhodes students are asked to become engaged citizens, participating in the local community - its politics, its culture, its problems, its aspirations – and in the world community. Students gain skill in connecting knowledge to its uses through educational experience that takes them off campus.
  12. Participate in activities that encourage lifelong physical fitness. It is important that students have the opportunity for recreation and physical activity, both during and after college. These involvements include learning about and participating in activities that promote lifelong physical fitness. Participation in athletics provides opportunities for leadership and for setting, understanding, and achieving team and personal goals. This requirement may be satisfied by taking three half-semesters of no-credit physical education courses or participation in intercollegiate athletics, club sports, or ROTC.

PLEASE NOTE: This document reflects information as it was published in the 2014-15 Rhodes Catalogue. You may find more current information elsewhere on