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Core 1: Freshman/Transfer Seminar in Critical Thinking and Academic Literacy


The Purpose of Core 1
Core 1 is designed to introduce students to the Millsaps academic community by exploring a faculty-selected topic of scholarly interest. Course activities give students an opportunity to practice and strengthen their critical thinking skills, as well as to read and produce (through written, oral, and, in some cases, visual means) the products of scholarly study. The Core 1 Seminar focuses most strongly on the Reasoning and Communication abilities, but individual topics may lend themselves as well to developing both Historical Consciousness and Social & Cultural Awareness. Core 1 is met by a freshman student taking IDST 1000 or a transfer student taking IDST 1050.

The Core 1 Seminar
In your Core 1 seminar, you will encounter a variety of interesting, important, and controversial issues within the context of your instructor's chosen theme. You will be challenged to think for yourself in ways that draw upon your personal experience, the experiences of those in your class, and the evidence you read, produce, or observe. There is a strong emphasis on writing and revising your writing in this course because the process of revision is important for clarifying your thinking.

Because Core 1 is conducted as a seminar, the pedagogy is interactive, with students taking an active role in every class. Each section focuses on a particular topic, the selected readings designed to provide a foundation for your own inquiry into the topic at hand. These materials are not taught as introductions to the disciplines, but as ways to help you discover how to answer your own human questions. No faculty member is a full expert on the multi-disciplinary content of the course or even the topic they've chosen to explore. Rather, the role of the Core 1 instructor is to help you in learning how to learn and how to reason.

For these reasons, this class introduces you to a different kind of educational process that at the beginning may seem strange to you. Rather than being a class in which you learn information passively from an expert, this class will encourage you to become responsible for your own thinking and learning. As you progress in the course and in your undergraduate education at Millsaps, you will increasingly become your own teacher.

Requirements for Writing in Core 1
Core 1, like all Core courses, emphasizes the development of writing skills. Each section of Core 1 requires its students:

  • to produce at least four formal writing assignments; of these, at least two undergo revision and at least one is a timed, in-class assignment.
  • to begin their writing proficiency portfolio with four pieces of writing from the course, including the two revised essays, a timed piece, and a critical reflection on personal learning.