ACADEMICS 

CORE CURRICULUM

CORE CURRICULUM OVERVIEW

The Core curriculum is an intensive two-year program of study (with an additional junior-year seminar for many students) preparing students to read difficult texts in English and Arabic closely, write about them deeply, and engage in the act of critical analysis that is vital to the success of a liberal arts program. Students take Language and Thinking, as well as two-full years of small, seminar classes, First-Year Seminar and Second-Year Seminar, in which they read, analyze, discuss, and write about some of the most significant texts in history, gathered from sources in the Middle East, Europe, America, and beyond. In the first year, students read authors such as Plato and Shakespeare in order to ponder the questions: What is a leader? What is our journey as humans? In the second year, students focus on the question: What is enlightenment? At the end of these two years, students are expected to be able to closely read texts, compare between them, write critically sophisticated papers, and give presentations. All students are required to take these courses. 

In addition, all first-year students must take two semesters of English Composition, an intensive program that teaches them to write analytical, comparative, and research papers. This course prepares them with the writing skills required for all of their later classes, and begins to teach them the research methods that will prove vital in working on their senior projects. Those students who do not have fluent English are required to additionally take two semesters of Intensive English. 

At AQB, we believe that our students must be prepared to be leaders here in the Middle East, and that this is not possible without fluency in literary Arabic. Therefore all of our students are required to take two semesters of Arabic Composition, in which they closely read, discuss, and write analytically about works written throughout the Arab world. 

The Core reflects the philosophy that a liberal arts degree must educate the complete person. Our scientists and future doctors must know Shakespeare, our lawyers must know Plato, and our architects must know Gilgamesh, which describes one of the world’s first cities. It reflects the belief that in order to be successful today, it is no longer enough for people to be educated only their field of study: they must be able to read texts across traditions, analyze them, challenge them, write about them, and, most importantly, be changed by them. 

The Core curriculum does not offer degrees. It is a set of courses required by all undergraduate students at AQB. No AQB student can graduate without completing the requirements of the Core.

 

MISSION OF THE CORE CURRICULUM  

The mission of the Core curriculum of Al-Quds Bard College for Arts and Sciences (AQB) is to provide a common set of classes required by all undergraduate students in order to prepare them for their studies in a liberal arts program. The Core curriculum requires that all students take at least two years of literature and philosophy seminars that teach them to develop close reading and analytical skills, as well as composition courses that prepare them to write both analytical and research papers. The Core curriculum also provides students with content that will be vital for their intellectual growth as well as their pursuit in any field, as students read such essential texts as Plato and Shakespeare, among others. Upon completion of the Core curriculum, students should be able to write complex analytical and research papers in English and Arabic, analyze important texts and identify major themes and arguments in them, actively engage with texts through class participation, make public presentations about texts, and be able to conduct the independent research necessary to later work on their Senior Project, an original, individual, focused project growing out of the student’s cumulative academic experiences required of all students. 

The Core curriculum deeply reflects the larger mission of AQB, that the liberal arts education must provide students with a complete education, teaching them not only about a single subject, but about how to engage in a range of subjects, to form their own opinions, to question assumptions, and to express themselves as individuals.


CORE COURSES DESCRIPTIONS  

9100100 Language and Thinking 

The Language & Thinking/Writing Through Analysis Course is an intensive introduction to thinking critically and creatively about texts, primarily through the act of writing. Students explore themes such as memory and identity by reading texts from a variety of genres. Scientific texts will sometimes follow theoretical ones or precede a poem or even an excerpt from a play. This course is designed to hone critical reading skills and to encourage students to see writing as a process. No prerequisites required. 

9100101-9100102 First-Year Seminar (FYSEM) 

First-Year seminar is a two-semester theme-based course. Its goals are not only to introduce students to some of the most important texts in history, but also to teach them how to read closely, write deeply, and talk intelligently about texts. Students read texts ranging from Gilgamesh to Plato and Shakespeare, and are taught close textual analysis and annotation of texts. Students are expected to master the literature and to read, to be able to identify themes within and across texts, and to begin to understand the origins and importance of literature across genres. Students will also be introduced to literary terms as well as with close reading techniques, and will be expected to lead class discussions as well as debate material. No prerequisites required. 

9100105-9100106 English Composition 

English Composition is a two-semester course teaching the process of writing essays, from generating and formulating questions to drafting and intensive revision. Engaging with literary and philosophical texts, students learn how to respond to complicated issues with clear, convincing arguments that feature supporting claims and textual evidence. They will learn thesis statements and supporting arguments as well as research methods and proper use and citation of sources. By the end of the two semesters, students will be able to write analytical, comparative, research, and personal essays. No prerequisites required.  

9100107-9100108 Beginner Arabic 

This is a MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) two-semester course for beginners. This course will provide students with the basics in Arabic and give them a good background for dialects of the region, in addition to an introduction of communicative skills as well as grammar basics. This course familiarizes students with the Arabic script and phonetics and aims at giving them the possibility to understand the basic structures of MSA. At the end of the two-semester course, students will be able to read and understand simple texts, to follow simple speeches, and to converse about routine matters in Arabic. No prerequisites required. 

9100109-9100110 Arabic Composition 

This two-semester course is intended to show students how the Arabic language has transformed and changed throughout regions and times. In this course, students will read novels, poems and articles from Iraq to Morocco, and will watch plays and listen to music. This course is meant to reveal that Arabic is more than merely grammar, but also carries the history and thought of the Arab nation. During this course students will also be expected to write academic papers in Arabic, dabble with creative writing, work on research methods in Arabic, and share written reflections. No prerequisites required. 

9100201-9100202 Second-Year Seminar (SYSEM) 

One of the few common denominators in the history of the arts, humanities, and sciences has been the quest—through creative, rational, scientific, and spiritual approaches—for understanding the relationship between the individual and the larger world. This two-semester course examines some of the principal interactions between society, politics, and culture that characterized the intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment, which arose out of the Scientific Revolution of the preceding century. By reading across the variety of genres, we will try to understand how a new model of the universe—the outcome of the seventeenth century Scientific Revolution—came to have profound implications on the ways in which human beings understood themselves, their relationship to society, and their history. This course emphasizes analytical thinking through class discussions and frequent writing assignments. No prerequisites required. 

9100301 Junior Writing and Research Seminar 

This course is designed for third year students who need to acquire the research and writing skills needed to write a senior project proposal and to create (in most cases, write) and present a senior thesis. Students read examples of works in several types of fields and analyze them for content, structure, logic, evidence and style. Students also prepare substantial research papers, or the equivalent in some other medium, going through several drafts with extensive feedback from peers, writing fellows and the instructor. Attention is also given to the careful and critical reading of sources. Prerequisites: None. 

Intensive English (non-credited course) 

Intensive English is a year long course designed for students who need to work on fluency in the English language. The course focuses on intensive reading, writing, and speaking in English, and prepares students for the fluency necessary to engage in all of their classwork in the College. By the end of the year, students are expected to speak easily in English, to read all texts with the aid of a dictionary, and to give presentations in English. No prerequisites required.