Core Requirements for New First Year Students
The Core curriculum has been a fundamental part of the undergraduate degree at St. John Fisher University since its founding by the Basilian fathers in 1948. The Basilian educational tradition emphasizes the critical importance of truth, intellectual freedom, the welfare of every student, and education for justice. “Basilian-sponsored colleges and universities have always attached great importance to teaching the liberal arts with creativity and academic discipline, with accompanying respect for the integrated scholarship of teaching research.” ¹ A liberal arts education provides a model of education that continues to be well-suited to the demands of an ever-changing and increasingly complex world. The Core at St. John Fisher College prepares students with the appropriate breadth and depth to recognize and confront the emerging issues of contemporary life and work. By focusing on the development of skills and competencies, the Core Curriculum at St. John Fisher University provides students with a liberal education experience that prepares them for life immediately after graduation, as well as the life-long journey that lies ahead.
¹ The Congregation of St. Basil, “Elements of the Basilian Contribution to Catholic Higher Education in North American.” University of St. Thomas, January 14, 2019.
The Core Curriculum facilitates students’ growth as learners with intentional pathways. By aligning the Core to students’ development of skills, students in Core courses are exposed to increasing levels of sophistication which prepare them for the complex world that will greet them after graduation. The Core experience complements all other academic experiences of students by helping them to develop skills and perspectives that are enhanced and applied throughout the course of their undergraduate studies.
Core courses address specific outcomes for student learning. Many departments offer courses within and across Core areas, but all courses within each are meet the same learning outcomes.
The Core curriculum consists of 10 courses which student must successfully complete to graduate from St. John Fisher University. These courses are required to be taken at St. John Fisher University and may not be transferred from another institution. The Core is comprised of three tiers of study: Foundation courses, Exploration courses, and Culminating Writing and Cardinal Experience courses.
The foundations courses are designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in college. Since these are primarily skills courses, they may not be applied to satisfy requirements in majors or minors. There are four Foundation level courses in the Core:
- Learning Community* (LC, DEPT 10XX): Students learn about a topic and engage issues related to that topic from at least two disciplinary perspectives, improving their writing, reading, information literacy, and group work skills. (Two linked courses; taken fall of first year).
- Research-Based Writing (RW, DEPT 1299): Students learn the basics of writing an academic research paper. Emphasis is on including more than one perspective on an issue, elements of persuasive argumentation, proper use and documentation of sources, revision, and oral presentation. (One course; taken spring of first year).
- Data Analysis (DA, DEPT 11XX): Courses in this core area explore the nature of numerical literacy and quantitative reasoning skills. Students learn to use appropriate tools and technologies to explore and analyze data in a systematic fashion. With these skills, students are equipped to evaluate the strength of a conclusion that can be drawn from specific data and measure these conclusions against what is known about the real world. (One course; taken spring of first year).
In each case, students may only earn credit once for courses in each of these categories.
*In the case where a student fails one or both courses in his or her Learning Community, that student must arrange, in consultation with the Associate Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, to successfully complete the Learning Community (LC) requirement. Successful completion of the LC core requirement is necessary to remain in good standing at the University and ultimately, to graduate from St. John Fisher University.
Exploration courses are designed to further develop students’ progress toward the Core learning outcomes. There are four Exploration level courses in the Core. Students must successfully complete at least one course out of each category. These courses may apply as electives to major and minor disciplines and are typically taken during a student’s sophomore year.
- Citizenship and Civic Engagement (CCE, DEPT 21XX): Students gain the knowledge, skills, and perspectives they need to become contributing citizens in a diverse and complex society. These experiences help to ensure a commitment to collaboratively working across and within community contexts and structures to achieve civic aims in a democracy.
- Creative Inquiry and Analysis (CIA, DEPT 22XX): Students demonstrate the ability to analyze issues, concepts, and artifacts in determining valid evidence, developing sound arguments, and making informed decisions. Students engage in concrete problem-solving frameworks including quantitative, scientific, logical, critical reasoning, and information literacy.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI, DEPT 23XX): Students demonstrate an understanding of the sociocultural, historical, and political underpinning of (in)equality and (in)justice and develop the understanding necessary to participate in a variety of diverse communities. Students further use these learning experiences to increase their self-awareness; that is, to understand and explore the cultural basis of their own values, beliefs, and priorities.
- Ethical Reasoning (ER, DEPT 24XX): Students learn to discern the moral aspects of a situation in order to produce ethically justifiable positions. Through the study of theoretical ethics and moral reasoning, students learn to develop well-reasoned positions and practical action plans that model what it means to live and act well in community and society.
These courses are identified with attributes that allow for a web-based search at the time of registration.
The Culmination courses are the developmental pinnacle of the Core. Students integrate all of their prior experiences both within the Core and their respective disciplines, leading to a summative experience that encapsulates their overall Fisher Experience.
- Advanced Research-Based Writing (AWC, DEPT 39XX): This junior level Core course serves as a preparatory springboard for students to engage in their pinnacle Cardinal Experience. The focus on writing and analysis provides students with the appropriate skills to tackle the breadth and complexity expected in their final, culminating Cardinal Experience.
- Cardinal Experience (CE, DEPT 49XX): This senior level experience is meant to provide students with an opportunity to collectively apply the skills and knowledge that have been built throughout the length and breadth of their undergraduate experience, incorporating knowledge and skills developed and honed both in the major and in the Core.
Core Requirements for Transfer Students
The new Core Requirements began for transfer students in spring 2021. As with new freshmen, all courses required to be completed in the Core must be taken at St. John Fisher University. Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and other test credit, as well course credits taken at other colleges do not apply to the St. John Fisher University Core. However, in order to facilitate ease of transfer, the Core Requirements apply according to the following guidelines:
- New students who enter St. John Fisher University with no previous credits earned or with only Advanced Placement (AP) credit, International Baccalaureate (IB) credit, or other college credit earned while in high school, are considered first-semester students and begin the Core with the foundational Learning Community requirement and must complete all remaining Core requirements.
- Transfer students who attended college as matriculated students for only one semester, begin the Core with the foundational Research-Based Writing (1299) course and must complete all remaining Core requirements except the Learning Community, regardless of how many credits are transferred.
- Students who attended college as matriculated students for two or more semesters and initially transfer fewer than 30 credits begin the Core with the foundational Research-Based Writing (1299) course and must complete all remaining Core requirements except the Learning Community.
- Students who attended college as matriculated students for two or more semesters and initially transfer between 30 and 44 credits, are exempt from all foundational core courses and begin the Core with the exploration core courses, completing one course from each of the four categories, as well as both culmination core courses.
- Students who attended college as matriculated students for two or more semesters and initially transfer between 45 and 59 credits, begin the Core with the exploration courses but are required to complete only two courses from any two separate categories, as well as both culmination core courses.
- Students who initially transfer 60 credits or more are exempt from all of the foundational and exploration courses and only need to complete the two culmination core courses.
- Students who initially enter St. John Fisher University with a previous bachelor’s and/or higher degree from a regionally accredited institution are exempt from all Core requirements.
Note: Foundations core courses may not be applied to major or minor degree requirements. Explorations core courses may apply as electives in both majors and minors as applicable.
Core Courses as Liberal Arts Electives
Although transfer students may be exempt from some areas of the core, they may still choose to take core courses from liberal arts disciplines as electives, as determined by their interests and to reach the required number of liberal arts credits for their degrees (60 credit hours for B.S. degrees and 90 credit hours for B.A. degrees). In particular, transfer students, together with their advisors, might determine that taking foundational core courses may help them achieve academic success. Likewise, if a student has completed sections of the core but wishes to take additional courses from an exploration core area, they are able to do so. The exploration core courses are especially designed without restrictions, to allow students to take multiple courses from each of the four areas as liberal arts electives or as electives within their majors or minors. Students should consult with their academic advisors for guidance in choosing appropriate elective courses.
All Core courses are identified with attributes as indicated above, that allow for a web-based search at the time of registration. Course numbers also identify the core category to which courses belong; see examples above.
Core Tracking Worksheet
Learning Community (LC; DEPT 10XX, 3 Credits each)
Research-Based Writing (RW, DEPT 1299, 3 Credits each)
Data Analysis (DA, DEPT 11XX, 3 Credits each)
Citizenship and Civic Engagement (CCE, DEPT 21XX, 3 Credits each)
Creative Inquiry and Analysis (CIA, DEPT 22XX, 3 Credits each)
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI, DEPT 23XX, 3 Credits each)
Ethical Reasoning (ER, DEPT 24XX, 3 Credits each)
Advanced Research-Based Writing (AWC, DEPT 39XX, 3 Credits each)
Cardinal Experience (CE, CORE 49XX, 3 Credits each)