Jul 24, 2024  
2010-2011 HillBook (Class of 2014) 
2010-2011 HillBook (Class of 2014) [ARCHIVED HILL BOOK]

The Cornerstone Program of General Education


The Cornerstone Program, which all students complete, leads them 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

Student-centered learning is at the heart of the Cornerstone curriculum. Through innovative learning experiences that intentionally connect knowledge of academic content with the development of core skills, students demonstrate progress in five identified outcomes: intellectual engagement, effective communication, leadership and collaboration, social responsibility and personal growth and discovery.

Intellectual Engagement

  • 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

Effective Communication

  • 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

Social Responsibility

  • 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

Designed to offer all Stonehill students the breadth of knowledge that exemplifies a cross-disciplinary undergraduate education, the Cornerstone Program engages every student in the major modes of understanding the world. 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 science; social science; statistical reasoning.

In addition to providing this foundation, the Cornerstone Program prepares students for the 21st century by fostering knowledge of other cultures, integrative thinking, and ethical responsibility as the hallmarks of global citizenship. Students complete a year-long sequence of foreign language study. In the sophomore year, students are enrolled in a Learning Community, a distinguishing feature of the program, to study an issue or problem using knowledge and skills from two disciplines. During the junior year, students take one course in moral inquiry, which may be rooted in either philosophical or religious ethics. Finally, as seniors, students demonstrate mastery of a disciplinary field of study through a carefully designed capstone course or experience. Normally, courses that fulfill the requirements of the Cornerstone Program must be 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 Director of General Education.)

The Cornerstone Program Course Listing

NOTE: Stonehill College reserves the right to alter the year or semester during which a course is offered, or to make other changes as necessary.

The Cornerstone Program

First Year Core: Encounters Sophomore Year: Communities Junior Year: Connections Senior Year: Capstone

Two courses each semester: Philosophy and Religious Studies; Literature and History;

(Foreign language is usually taken in the first year.)

One of the two semesters, each student will select a Learning Community from among the many offered:

A pair of faculty from different disciplines link their courses via a problem or issue understood better through joint study. Students enroll in a third course, an integrative seminar, to facilitate the multidisciplinary effort.

During this year, students select a moral inquiry course from a broad set of offerings. Each major program requires a culminating course or experience that integrates mastery of the major discipline with the content, abilities and values of the Cornerstone Program.

(The majority of courses required of student’s major are taken in the last two years.)

(Study abroad is typically scheduled in the sophomore or junior year.)

(A domestic or international internship is typically taken in spring of the junior year or fall of the senior year.)

Distribution Requirements:

Two semesters of a foreign language, one natural scientific inquiry, one social scientific inquiry and one statistical reasoning course; some students will fulfill part of these distribution requirements through major requirements or learning communities.

First Year

Each student is enrolled in the Critical Encounters sequence, consisting of four courses in history, literature, philosophy and religious studies. In addition to providing breadth of knowledge, these courses intensively develop students’ critical writing, reading, and thinking abilities. Through direct engagement with texts, students are introduced to the questions and interpretations that are formative for each of these disciplines. In most cases, students also complete a year of foreign language study (any year-long sequence of Chinese, French, German, Italian, Latin or Spanish), experiencing the diversity of human culture.

Honors Critical Encounters

Honors versions of these four courses, numbered 140 and listed below, are offered as intensive seminars for students in the college-wide Honors Program. For more information, consult with the Director of the Honors Program.

Sophomore Year

Each student chooses from a variety of Learning Communities, developing the ability to integrate two disciplinary approaches to a significant issue or problem. Normally, Learning Communities 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.

Learning Community Integrative Seminars

Learning Community Integrative seminars form the third course of each sophomore Learning Community. The two faculty guide students in the integrated use of the knowledge gained from each disciplinary course to better understand an issue or solve a problem. This active integration by the students may be prompted by a variety of teaching methods, including the traditional seminar methods, independent research, community-based learning, or short-term travel. See below for Learning Community Descriptions.

Junior Year

Each student reflects further on personal and societal choices, choosing from a number of moral inquiry courses. In these courses, students continue their personal growth and discovery process as well as developing an ability to think critically about ethical issues.

Senior Year

Capstone courses at Stonehill are designed as culminating experiences, providing students with an opportunity to integrate and apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired in their chosen fields of study. 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.

Each major program requires a Capstone Course or Experience, designed to help each student integrate the knowledge, competencies and values of the Cornerstone Program with the knowledge, competencies and values of the major discipline.

Capstone Course descriptions can be found by department.

Distributions (may be taken any year)

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 and values of the discipline as well as consideration of associated societal values. These courses assist students in continuing to develop as effective communicators, collaborative leaders, and engaged citizens.

Course descriptions can be found by department.

Foreign Languages

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. Students typically complete this requirement in their first year. In some cases, in consultation with an advisor, students may choose to defer fulfilling this requirement to later semesters.

Course offerings and descriptions can be found under Foreign Language Department .