Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 13, 2006
Students to dig for roots of Catholic thought
St. Joe's College offers unique program aimed at first-year students
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"The basic idea (behind Academia) is to allow interested first year BA students to be in a smaller group of up to 40 students who would take several of their basic core BA courses together in designated sections and then also to do a seminar course here with us," explained Tim Hartnagel, dean of St. Joseph's College.
"The purpose of the seminar course would be to do some critical reflection on some of the themes that come up in those basic core humanities courses and their relationship to the Catholic intellectual tradition of the West."
All courses that are part of the program are courses that students would need to fulfill their BA requirements and will be taught by faculty of arts professors. They include English 112, which is a Western literature and language course, Philosophy 101 and 102, both basic philosophy courses, and Classics and History 110, which is a Western civilization course.
Course instructors will try to identify common themes that run across these courses and then St. Joseph's will use those themes as discussion material in its special seminars.
"The seminars are called Catholic studies and those seminars will take material from the basic core humanities courses that the students have been in and critically reflect on them and try to do some integration among those themes with the Catholic intellectual tradition," Hartnagel explained.
"That's the academic part but this is also a way of giving students an experience of a smaller learning community in the midst of this big huge university where a number of students right from high school have trouble taking advantage of what's here because they get lost in the large anonymity particularly of large first-year courses."
The program will also offer students opportunities to participate with other Academia students and staff in a variety of social, cultural and recreational activities. There is also an optional residential community available at St. Joseph's.
The Academia program itself is one year but an optional second will be offered to those interested.
"If they finish the first year and they are interested they can go on to a second year where the focus will be a little different and there will be fewer cohort courses for them; there will be two courses and two seminars," Hartnagel explained.
"The second year is going to focus more on ethics and social justice and they will be doing some community service-learning activities as well."
Hartnagel emphasized that Academia is being developed in cooperation with the faculty of arts.
"We couldn't do this on our own because we don't admit our own students," he said. "You have to be admitted into the University of Alberta and in the faculty of arts in your first year to be able to take our courses and to do this particular program."
The concept behind the Academia program has been around for quite awhile and has been used in a variety of ways in other universities, Hartnagel said.
"The focus of this notion is to try to form community with a smaller group of students and faculty that allows for more interaction both in and outside the classroom."
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