Intellectual Foundations is an all-college program. But why does Carthage view Intellectual Foundations as so important? What does it provide our students?

As a liberal arts college, Carthage is in the business of turning out well-rounded individuals. Well-rounded means that when you graduate, you will be able to converse about a variety of topics both socially and professionally. Intellectual Foundations accomplishes this by using literature based on the themes of identity, community, and cultural interaction. Well-rounded also means that you will have the skills necessary to carry you through the rest of your life as a life-long learner. These skills are laid out in the Intellectual Foundations Guide: reading, writing, cultural literacy, and oral communication.

Proficiency in these skills requires practice. There is no shortcut. The Intellectual Foundations sequence is designed to help you polish these skills.

Read Critically, Write Engagingly

Let’s begin with the skills of reading and writing. Some of you are saying to yourselves, “But I read and write well now, so why do I have to do more? What can Intellectual Foundations possibly teach me about reading and writing?”

Reading and writing are skills that demand practice. Our Carthage athletes know to stretch their muscles and practice shots, patterns, and routines before a game. Players always warm up before a game. Would a basketball player dare to not practice his or her jump shot or free throw before a game?

In many ways, college is a way for you to warm up before you go on to your chosen career. Reading and writing are skills that you will need no matter what you do after college. And Intellectual Foundations is the first step in helping you to become a skilled writer who can write in a variety of formats.

Communicate Effectively

In addition to reading and writing skills, while you may not always remember the content from the classes you take here at Carthage, one of the skills that will serve you well is knowing where to find the information you need. Knowing how to find information, and being able to evaluate its worth, will definitely help you down the road, both in your other college courses and in your life after college. Yes, Virginia, there is a life after college.

After you find this information, at some point either with friends or for business, you will want to be able to communicate your knowledge effectively to others. Another goal of Intellectual Foundations is to help you polish your oral communication skills. The basic skills are the same for giving an oral presentation in front of your peers or the executives of your company. Intellectual Foundations can place you on the path to success to help your team.

The final goal of Intellectual Foundations, but by no means the least important is cultural literacy. The world we live in demands that we continually interact with individuals from a variety of ethnic groups, cultures, and religions. In every career path, there will be situations where you will need to interact with people from other cultures. And in order to interact well with these people, you must understand how cultural differences might lead to misunderstandings, on your part or theirs, and may prevent you from effectively communicating with others.

See Possibilities

If you sum up these skills you come up with the final product — an increase in your analytical ability. This is your ability to explore multiple options, to see different possibilities, and to understand the many facets that may be involved in the issue you are considering. This is the heart and soul of a liberal arts education. And this is why Carthage views the Intellectual Foundations program as so important.