Foundation Requirements

The Foundation of the Liberal Arts Requirements
The foundation requirements establish a framework for liberal education and lifelong learning. Unless mentioned otherwise in the description, foundation requirements will be met by one course specified as meeting that requirement. Most requirements will have courses in several different departments that fulfill them.

Upon completion of the requirements and the attainment of a Bachelor’s degree from Rhodes, each graduate should be able to:

  • Critically examine questions of meaning and value. An education in the liberal arts must engage students in critical examination of the relationship between the values they hold as individuals and their social and historical location. The cultural context of a liberal arts institution in the United States is itself marked by values, a moral orientation, and operative assumptions that are in need of exploration and open to critical reflections. Thoughtful engagement with the complex legacies of texts and traditions that have been formative of this culture is an especially effective way to gain skills for critical thinking, self-awareness, and communication across differences of value. Courses that fulfill the F1 must satisfy the requirement of the Bellingrath Trust to offer academically 'sound and comprehensive' exploration of biblical texts and traditions. Courses that fulfill this requirement will engage students in a critical examination of personal, social, and cultural values through the academic study of biblical literature and of traditions that are productively compared with it. This requirement is satisfied by completing a set of two coordinated courses at the 100-level (e.g., 101, 102) and one course at the 200-level or higher. The first two courses must be completed during the first year and the second course must also fulfill the F2i. The third course at the 200-level or higher must be completed after the first year.
  • 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. Students will receive significant training in writing during the first two years through (1) one course foregrounding skills of critical analysis, rhetoric, and argumentation, and (2) two writing intensive courses. These three required courses will provide the initial steps in the student’s deliberate development as a writer. Courses within each major will ensure that each student continues to refine writing skills over the course of the four years in college..
  • Engage in historical thinking about the human past.. Historical thinking requires a deliberative stance towards the human past as it is constructed and interpreted with primary sources, such as human artifacts, written evidence, oral traditions, and artistic expressions. It requires understanding of historical forces and actors and engagement with interpretive debate, through the skillful use of an evolving set of methodological practices and tools.
  • 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.
  • Participate in the analysis of artistic expression or in the performance or production of art. Humans express themselves creatively through art forms that are aural, visual, and performed. Creating and studying art are particularly effective ways of understanding art. This requirement may be satisfied with a designated course in which the primary and sustained focus is artistic creativity.
  • 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. Experience in using the logic, calculation, and precision in mathematics refines an individual’s abilities to evaluate experiences, make judgments, and communicate.
  • Explore and understand scientific approaches to the natural world. Our experience of the world is profoundly influenced by a scientific understanding of the physical realm of our existence. To make informed decisions about the production and application of scientific knowledge, students need to understand the way science examines the natural world. Students acquire such knowledge by learning scientific facts and by understanding and engaging through laboratory work the powerful methods by which scientific information is obtained.
  • Use theory and empirical research to explore aspects of human experience and interaction and apply these to contemporary issues. Responsible citizenship entails critical evaluation and interpretation of theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding contemporary conditions that influence the well-being of individuals and their communities. A sound understanding of the institutions and practices that shape and are shaped by human behavior will allow students to become more informed participants in critical conversations that transform our world.
  • View the world from more than one cultural perspective. The individual of today’s world must be able to understand issues and events through multiple cultural perspectives by developing abilities that facilitate intelligent and respectful interaction in various cultural contexts. These abilities include recognizing, understanding, and articulating the similarities and differences of cultural perspectives, including one’s own.
  • Develop intermediate proficiency in a second language. Proficiency in a second language allows a level of access to a culture that is not achievable through sources in translation. Intermediate proficiency includes the ability to understand and communicate with members of the target culture, negotiate differences between the second language and the first, and use the second language as a tool for human communication.
  • Participate in activities that broaden connections between the classroom and the world. The goal of a liberal arts education is to enlarge human freedom. Because freedom cannot be fully understood outside a social context, 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. Their work may involve them in the arts, human services, politics, or business in the City of Memphis or it may take them to other parts of the country or to other parts of the world.
  • Develop skills to become an informed, active and engaged student-citizen. The F12 provides opportunities to explore core aspects of one’s community and one’s self. Students will learn how to thrive within a learning environment, and how to develop the skills and discover resources necessary to flourish as an individual, as a scholar, and as an active citizen of the interconnected communities of Rhodes College, Memphis, and the wider world. This requirement is fulfilled through the successful completion of a first-year seminar at Rhodes as approved by the Foundations Curriculum Committee.