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Required A&I Elements

A&I seminars are designed to introduce students to a liberal arts approach to learning, developing the critical and creative talents of our students through broad and rigorous studies in the liberal arts disciplines.  Although they are offered in many different disciplines across the curriculum, these courses share a set of common goals and all are designed as small, discussion-based seminars.  All introduce students to the ways in which scholars ask questions and construct arguments, and they teach students how to effectively and ethically find, use, and evaluate information.  In these courses, students work to strengthen habits of critical thinking and cooperation with their peers while they engage in opportunities for critical reading, discussion, and college-level writing on a variety of topics.  The seminars seek to foster students’ intellectual independence as they offer tools to help students become reflective learners and thinkers.  In requiring these A&I seminars, the college seeks to facilitate the fundamental goals, expressed in Carleton’s mission statement: Quiet reflection and lively engagement are valued as sources of self-understanding and renewal. Carleton honors thoughtful conversations about difficult questions as necessary for individual growth and community strength. The College works to embody the values of freedom of inquiry and expression and is vigilant in protecting these values within a culture of academic integrity, civil deliberation, and ethical action.  

Accordingly, these are the essential elements of all A&I seminars: 

  • Explicitly introduces students to a liberal arts approach to learning and to the goals of the seminars
    (A conversation, discussion and/or lecture should take place early in the term in which the instructor discusses the goals of the A&I seminars and their place in Carleton’s liberal arts experience.)
  • Develops the critical and creative skills they will need to thrive in academic work at Carleton.
  • Is discussion-based
  • Fosters students’ intellectual independence
  • Develops habits of critical thinking
  • Clarifies how scholars ask questions
  • Teaches students how to find and evaluate information in reading and research
  • Instructs students in using information effectively and ethically in constructing arguments.
  • Strengthens students’ habits of cooperation with peers
    (Faculty are strongly encouraged to bring their students’ attention to the need for cultural sensitivity, and to include a discussion of the CEDI document on ensuring positive classroom climate.)
  • Students and instructor must attend the A&I convocation address (this year's address is by Professor Martha Nussbaum, Oct. 4) and spend some time in class discussing it

In addition, all A&I seminars have these structural elements: