All Carthage students must successfully complete one seminar course called Intellectual Foundations. This seminar represents the foundation of the Carthage experience: a journey of rigorous thinking, questioning, and imagining that ultimately leads to self-discovery and self-expression.

Intellectual Foundations is a core course, taken during the fall or spring semester of a student’s freshman year. The goal of Intellectual Foundations is to introduce students to a true liberal arts education. In classes of 21 students or fewer, freshmen read, discuss, and write about key texts from the Greek and Roman worlds through the Renaissance and into our modern era.

The course is taught collaboratively by faculty from academic departments and programs across disciplines.

Intellectual Journey

The intellectual tradition of the West is characterized by active dialogue among literary, scientific, philosophical, political, and spiritual thinkers, ancient and modern. These thinkers saw themselves as the heirs of intellectual riches, but at the same time, they were contesting, modifying, and even replacing what they inherited. Intellectual Foundations seminars ask students to participate in this ongoing journey of the mind. In the seminar, students are called upon to discuss intensely, write engagingly, and articulate clearly their thoughts through critical essays and conversations in dialogue with one another and with the texts of the course.

Outstanding Works of Literature

The texts selected for study in Intellectual Foundations are outstanding works of literature, social and political philosophy, economic thought, science, film, and music. Students read texts such as

  • W.E.B. Du Bois’s “The Souls of Black Folk”
  • Plato’s “Republic”
  • Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”
  • Homer’s “Odyssey”
  • “The Bible”
  • Dante’s “Inferno”
  • Montaigne’s “Essays”
  • Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”
  • Works by Aristotle, Augustine, and Aeschylus, as well as authors such as Descartes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jane Austen, and Toni Morrison.

Solid Foundation

The Intellectual Foundations program at Carthage provides students with a level of competency that will aid them in all of their classes at Carthage, and in their future careers. Students develop critical reading, writing, cultural literacy, and oral communication skills.