The mission of the Cornerstone Program is to lead students to examine critically the self, society, culture, and the natural world. The program honors Stonehill College’s commitment to free inquiry and social responsibility in the tradition of Catholic higher education. Through the development of the knowledge, competencies, and values that are central to the Cornerstone Program, every Stonehill student will be prepared for a life of learning and responsible citizenship.
Expectations for Students
The Cornerstone Program puts students at the center of their own learning by providing a cohesive framework that helps to unify and deepen the variety of experiences that comprise a Stonehill education. Through innovative and inspiring learning experiences (such as First-Year Seminars and sophomore Learning Communities) students connect knowledge of academic content and disciplines with the development of core competencies: intellectual engagement, effective communication, leadership and collaboration, social responsibility, and personal growth and discovery.
- Acquiring a breadth of knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences
- Demonstrating critical reading abilities
- Demonstrating critical thinking abilities (including qualitative and statistical reasoning)
- Integrating knowledge across disciplines
- Demonstrating the ability to write clearly and effectively
- Demonstrating the ability to speak clearly and effectively in public
Leadership and Collaboration
- Demonstrating the ability to contribute effectively to the work of a group
- Demonstrating the ability to facilitate the work of a group
- Demonstrating the ability to lead the work of a group
- Valuing the diversity of persons and cultures
- Recognizing the inherent dignity of all persons
- Making informed decisions about ethical and social justice issues
- Engaging in civic life and participatory citizenship
Personal Growth and Discovery
- Developing the capacity and desire for continued learning
- Exploring and developing one’s values and worldview
- Valuing free inquiry into all issues and questions of significance
Overview of the Cornerstone Program
The Cornerstone Program fosters active learning and personal growth by engaging students in the major modes of understanding the world and helping them to hone essential intellectual skills—effective communication, analytical thinking, and the ability to deal with unstructured problems. The curriculum features a two-part sequence of writing-intensive courses: a First-Year Seminar and an advanced Writing in the Disciplines course situated in the student’s major). One course in each of four humanities disciplines is required: History, Literature, Philosophy, and Religious Studies. One course in each of three scientific/mathematical approaches to understanding the world is required: Natural Scientific Inquiry, Social Scientific Inquiry; and Statistical Reasoning. Students typically complete a year-long sequence of foreign language study.
In the sophomore year, students enroll in a Learning Community–a distinctive feature of the Cornerstone Program–to study an issue or problem, applying knowledge and skills gained from two disciplines or perspectives. During the junior year, students take one course in Moral Inquiry, which may be rooted in philosophical or religious ethics or engage significant moral questions from a disciplinary perspective, from history or political science, for example. In the third or fourth year, students take one of a variety of courses in Catholic Intellectual Traditions, a category that reflects the Stonehill’s Catholic identity. Finally, as seniors, students demonstrate mastery of a discipline or field of study through a relevant capstone course or experience. Courses that fulfill Cornerstone requirements are ordinarily taken at Stonehill College. Even courses that are standard offerings elsewhere have been revised by Stonehill faculty to meet the specific outcomes of the Cornerstone Program. Students who wish to make the case that a course taken elsewhere does meet our criteria must provide a rationale along with a complete course syllabus, including assignments, to the Assistant Dean of General Education and Academic Achievement.
In the first year, each student enrolls in a First-Year Seminar, an opportunity to explore an engaging topic or question in a small-class format emphasizing writing, discussion, critical thinking, and academic inquiry. Because effective writing is integral to critical thinking, all First-Year Seminars emphasize frequent writing, close examination of texts, rigorous analysis and reasoning, and information literacy. First-Year Seminars may be rooted in individual disciplines or may be interdisciplinary in nature. All First-Year Seminars bear four credits, have no prerequisites, and are open to all first-year students on a space-available basis, regardless of major. Many First-Year Seminars fulfill other Cornerstone requirements or requirements for specific majors.
First-year students also take a sequence of foundational humanities courses: Philosophy, Religious Studies, Literature, and History. All of these courses develop students’ critical thinking skills and sharpen their ability to read and write critically, to formulate compelling questions suitable for intellectual inquiry, and to distinguish between critical argumentation, statements of opinion, and summary. Philosophy and Religious Studies are taken in the first year; Literature and History may be taken in the first or second years. In most cases, students complete a year of foreign language study (a year-long sequence of Arabic, Attic Greek, Biblical Hebrew, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Latin, or Spanish), experiencing the diversity of human culture. Foreign language study at Stonehill means more than simply developing students’ language skills. It incorporates five essential dimensions: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities.
In the second year, students enroll in a Learning Community (LC). LCs at Stonehill feature linked or collaboratively taught classes from different disciplines or perspectives and are designed to foster students’ ability to integrate learning across courses, over time, and between campus and community life. Integrative learning goes beyond academic boundaries, because these kinds of experiences often occur as students address real-world problems that are unscripted and sufficiently broad to require multiple modes of inquiry and multiple perspectives. In most cases, two stand-alone-courses are linked with a third LC Integrative Seminar. In some cases, professors co-teach an individual seminar in an extended, four-credit format. Many LCs feature short-term travel or community-based learning. LCs are all about making connections, and these connections often surface in reflective work, self-assessment, and creative endeavors of all kinds. LCs bear variable credit, depending on the design, and may fulfill other Cornerstone requirements (e.g. Natural Scientific Inquiry, Statistical Reasoning, Moral Inquiry, etc.).
In the third year, students take two pivotal courses that raise important questions about values, ethics, faith, and belief: Moral Inquiry and Catholic Intellectual Traditions. The main goal of Moral Inquiry courses is to provide students with the ability to understand the varying or conflicting solutions that, in a global world, have been proposed to fundamental moral and ethical questions. Students are introduced to different philosophical, political, or religious beliefs, or to various cultural traditions and practices, in order to explore such questions, and they are equipped to assess for themselves claims about moral and ethical issues.
Courses that fulfill the Catholic Intellectual Traditions (CIT) requirement explore, from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, enduring questions, both theological and philosophical, that emerged from and shaped Catholicism, from ancient times to the present. Some examples are: What is the meaning of human nature? What is the best human life to live? What is the nature of the universe? CIT courses invite students to address these questions so that each student will have a sustained, critical engagement with Catholic thought and practice. In some cases, one course will fulfill both the Moral Inquiry Requirement and the CIT requirement.
Another feature of the third year at Stonehill is the Writing-in-the-Disciplines (WID) requirement. Writing-in-the-Disciplines (WID) courses introduce students to the stylistic and scholarly conventions of particular disciplines and fields. Students fulfill this requirement through advanced writing-intensive courses offered in their majors. These courses build on students’ experiences in First-Year Seminars and provide valuable opportunities to practice the craft of writing in the context of their chosen disciplines or fields of study.
Many Stonehill students choose to spend a semester abroad in their third year, expanding their horizons in countless ways.
Three Cornerstone requirements may be fulfilled in years one – four: Social Scientific Inquiry, Natural Scientific Inquiry, and Statistical Reasoning. Social Scientific Inquiry courses help students develop theoretical and evidence-based thought and to apply social scientific theories, concepts, research findings and methods to identify and comprehend broad societal trends and important events. The primary goal of the Natural Scientific Inquiry courses is to equip students with some basic tools to address issues involving science so that they can make informed decisions about the impact of science and regulatory policies on their lives and eventually become more active and engaged citizens. In the 21st century, our exposure to numerical and quantitative data has made Statistical Reasoning an essential intellectual and practical skill, part of a cluster of skills including critical thinking, information literacy, and problem solving. The study of Statistical Reasoning allows students to develop and apply the requisite skills and tools to determine whether the results of empirical studies are meaningful enough to encourage change in one’s behaviors, attitudes, and/or beliefs.
The focus of the student’s fourth year is synthesis, integrating and applying the many parts of a Stonehill education into a cohesive and meaningful whole. Capstone Courses and Experiences, situated within a student’s major, draw together threads from the Cornerstone Program, major and minor courses, electives, co-curricular activities, and community-based learning experiences and frame them within a real-world or disciplinary context. If First-Year Seminars are the gateway into the academic community, Capstone Courses and Experiences provide a sense of closure. Internships, typically undertaken in the third or fourth year, are another way of applying a Stonehill education and of transitioning into the workplace or advanced study.
The Cornerstone Program Course Listing
- AMS 110 - Women Reimagining History (First-Year Seminar)
- BIO 119 - This Is Your Body Under Stress (First-Year Seminar)
- CHM 110 - General Chemistry I: Art, Chemistry? Artist, Scientist? (First-Year Seminar)
- CHM 111 - General Chemistry I: The Environment and Society (First-Year Seminar)
- COM 110 - Navigating the Media Landscape (First-Year Seminar)
- CRM 110 - From CSI to Lockup: Myths and Realities (First-Year Seminar)
- ECO 110 - The Economics of eBay (First-Year Seminar)
- ECO 111 - The Undercover Economist (First-Year Seminar)
- ECO 112 - Humans Behaving Badly: Economic Perspectives (First-Year Seminar)
- ECO 120 - Financial Intelligence (First-Year Seminar)
- ECO 121 - Zombie Economics: Views from Dead Economists (First-Year Seminar)
- ENG 110 - Island Living/Island Leaving (First-Year Seminar*)
- ENG 111 - Rites of Passage: Metamorphosis in Western Literature (First-Year Seminar*)
- ENG 112 - Representation and the Elusive Real in the Moving Image (First-Year Seminar*)
- ENG 113 - Machine Culture: Our Technology, Ourselves (First-Year Seminar*)
- GND 110 - Is Sex Destiny? (First-Year Seminar*)
- GND 111 - American Women Poets (First-Year Seminar)
- HIS 110 - Becoming Modern: America in the 1920s (First-Year Seminar*)
- HIS 111 - New York, New York (First-Year Seminar*)
- HIS 112 - Heretics, Reformers and Radicals: Women & Power in American History (First-Year Seminar*)
- HIS 113 - Faith & Violence in Early Modern Europe (First-Year Seminar*)
- HIS 114 - The Outbreak of the Great War (First-Year Seminar*)
- HIS 115 - The Declaration of Independence in World History (First-Year Seminar*)
- HIS 116 - Anti-Semitism, Nazism, and the Holocaust (First-Year Seminar*)
- HIS 117 - Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration (First-Year Seminar*)
- HIS 118 - Beneath the Skull and Cross Bones: A Global History of Piracy (First-Year Seminar*)
- HIS 119 - Chuck Berry’s America: The United States from 1955 to 1965 (First-Year Seminar*)
- HIS 120 - Crosscurrents and Connections: Encounters in the Atlantic World (First-Year Seminar*)
- HIS 121 - Perspectives on China (First-Year Seminar*)
- HIS 122 - Made in China: A History of Trade and Culture (First-Year Seminar*)
- HIS 123 - Fleeing to England (First-Year Seminar*)
- HIS 124 - History of American Freedom (First-Year Seminar*)
- PHL 110 - Gods, Souls, and Bodies (First-Year Seminar)
- PHL 111 - Questioning Love and Desire (First-Year Seminar)
- PHL 112 - The Examined Life (First-Year Seminar)
- POL 110 - Power, Order, and Justice (First-Year Seminar)
- REL 110 - Why Religion? The Hero's Journey (First-Year Seminar*)
- REL 113 - Sacred Space From Mt. Sinai to Ground Zero (First-Year Seminar*)
- REL 122 - Pilgrimage and Passage: Religion as “Sacred” Journey (First-Year Seminar*)
- SOC 110 - Lovin' it? A Sociology of McDonald’s & Everyday Life (First-Year Seminar)
- VPH 110 - Art Now! Contemporary Trends (First-Year Seminar)
- VPH 111 - Boston Buildings: Inside and Out (First-Year Seminar)
- VPM 110 - American Popular Music in the 20th Century (First-Year Seminar)
- VPT 110 - Theatre as Mystery, Myth, and History (First-Year Seminar)
- WRI 110 - YouTube Nation: Multimedia & Composition (First-Year Seminar)
- WRI 111 - The Supernatural in Contemporary Pop Culture (First-Year Seminar)
- WRI 112 - Sports Rivalries: Who Wins? (First-Year Seminar)
- WRI 113 - Has Science Disproved God? (First-Year Seminar)
- WRI 141 - Introduction to College Writing (First-Year Seminar)
- WRI 241 - Intermediate Writing: The Art of the Essay (First-Year Seminar)
Core Humanities Courses
Each student enrolls in a foundational sequence consisting of four areas: History, Literature, Philosophy and Religious Studies. In addition to providing breadth of knowledge, these courses develop students’ critical writing, reading and thinking abilities. Through direct engagement with primary and secondary texts, students are introduced to the questions and interpretations that are formative for each of these disciplines.
Foreign language study is an essential part of the liberal arts at Stonehill, strengthening students’ communication skills, deepening their scholarly ability, preparing them for study abroad, and broadening their cultural horizons in a global age.
Course offerings and descriptions can be found under Foreign Language Department .
Learning Community Integrative Seminars
Each student chooses from a variety of Learning Communities (LCs), developing the ability to integrate two disciplinary approaches to a significant issue or problem. LCs typically include innovative experiential learning activities, such as community-based learning, individualized research, or short-term travel. In addition to building on the skills developed in the first year, students develop leadership and collaboration skills as well as oral presentation skills.
The following descriptions represent LCs that have been offered in the past and are meant to be illustrative. LC offerings change from year to year. Current listings are available on the Registrar’s website.
- LC 205 - Integrative Seminar: HCA 105/BIO 291 The Practice of Medicine and You
- LC 207 - Integrative Seminar: CSC 201/CSC 211 Mathematical Experiments in Computer Science
- LC 209 - Integrative Seminar: BIO 211/CHM 222 Organic Chemistry of the Cell
- LC 225 - Integrative Seminar: ENV 200/COM 320 Change the World?
- LC 228 - Integrative Seminar: HIS 207/REL 209 Uncovering Judaism and Nazism in Europe
- LC 230 - Integrative Seminar: SOC 212/CSC 101 Through the Looking Glass
- LC 235 - Integrative Seminar: MTH 261/PHY 221 Quantum Waves
- LC 237 - Integrative Seminar: BIO 298/ENV 270 Ecology and Ethics in Action: Restoring the Everglades
- LC 240 - Integrative Seminar: BUS 333/PSY 204 Building Leaders
- LC 245 - Integrative Seminar: VPG 210/SOC 232 Society Through the Lens
- LC 254 - Integrative Seminar: EDU 312/ENV 200 Children, Science and the Arts: Classroom Practice
- LC 259 - Integrative Seminar: ENG 220/VPG 224 Moving Stories
- LC 260 - Integrative Seminar: VPM 232/VPD 256 Staging and Performing Musical Theatre
- LC 261 - Integrative Seminar: ENG 390/ENG 220 Freud and the Modern World
- LC 265 - Integrative Seminar: BUS 320/ECO 178 The Impact of News on Financial Markets
- LC 267 - Integrative Seminar: POL 357/REL 238 The Immigrant Experience: Legal, Political, Cultural and Theological Dimensions
- LC 269 - Integrative Seminar: BUS 333/BUS 336 Culture and Commerce
- LC 272 - Integrative Seminar: BUS 336/COM 313 Women’s Global Issues
- LC 278 - Integrative Seminar: GENL 140/GENP 140 From Russia With Love (and Laughter, and Madness, and Beauty, and Revolution and Suffering)
- LC 279 - Integrative Seminar: ENV 200/REL 335 Swamp Walks and Roadside Shrines: The Religion and Science of Place
- LC 282 - Integrative Seminar: BIO 200/PSY 415 Neuroscience: Mind, Body, Community
- LC 283 - Integrative Seminar: SOC 316/HIS 241 Into the Woods: Cultural Tourism, History and Folklore
- LC 284 - Integrative Seminar: BUS 320/COM 315 Business and Communication in China: Changes and Challenges
- LC 285 - Integrative Seminar: SOC 101/VPT 216 Society on Stage
- LC 290 - Integrative Seminar: CRM 224/VPS 310 Mentoring Through Art – Theory and Practice
- LC 291 - Integrative Seminar: POL 291/VPM 239 Indigenous Peoples in the Americas: Music, Culture, and Governance
- LC 292 - Integrative Seminar: HIS 380/VPH 226 Art and Civic Culture in Urban Neighborhoods
- LC 293 - Integrative Seminar: AMS 320/VPM 235 Dangerous Curves: The Art of the Guitar
- LC 294 - Integrative Seminar: SOC 232/VPT 216 Social Problems and Performance
- LC 295 - Integrative Seminar: BIO 118/BIO 296 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
- LC 296 - Integrative Seminar: POL 351/SOC 216 The Paradox of Sovereignty: Native Nations, Public Policy, and the Politics of Power
- LC 300 - Integrative Seminar: ENV 200/ENV 270 Food Justice: The Science and Ethics of What We Eat
- LC 303 - Integrative Seminar: HIS 321/VPM 234 Listening to African American History
- LC 304 - Integrative Seminar: VPM 180/PSY 271 The Making of Musical Minds
- LC 305 - Integrative Seminar: BUS 340/COM 311 Integrated Marketing Communication
Catholic Intellectual Traditions
Courses that fulfill the Catholic Intellectual Traditions requirement explore, from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, enduring questions, both theological and philosophical, that emerged from and shaped Catholicism, from ancient times to the present.
Moral Inquiry courses provide students with an opportunity to continue their personal growth and discovery process and to continue to develop the ability to think critically about ethical choices and social issues.
Writing in the Disciplines
Writing-in-the-Disciplines courses introduce students to the stylistic and scholarly conventions of particular disciplines and fields. Students fulfill this requirement through advanced writing-intensive courses offered in their majors. These courses build on students’ experiences in First-Year Seminars and provide valuable opportunities to practice the craft of writing in the context of their chosen disciplines or fields of study.
Each student is required to complete one Social Scientific Inquiry course, one Natural Scientific Inquiry course, and one Statistical Reasoning course. In these courses, students develop an understanding of the history, methodology of the discipline and associated societal values. These courses help students develop as effective communicators, collaborative leaders, and engaged citizens.
Natural Scientific Inquiry
Social Scientific Inquiry
Capstone Courses and Experiences
Capstone courses at Stonehill are designed as culminating experiences in which students integrate and apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired in their chosen fields of study and Cornerstone Program. Capstone activities vary by department and include internships, practica, senior theses, research colloquia, research seminars, studio seminars, and senior projects. In every case, students work closely with faculty members to bring a sense of satisfying closure to their academic experience.
Capstone Course descriptions can be found by department.