Dec 05, 2020  
2013-2014 Undergraduate Catalog 
2013-2014 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Liberal Studies Curriculum

Goals of a Saint Michael’s College Education

Saint Michael’s College embodies the tradition of a liberal arts education in light of the Catholic faith, which emphasizes a concern with ultimate questions within a diverse world, and an attention to the full human and spiritual development of the student. A Saint Michael’s education, consisting of at least one major, the Liberal Studies Curriculum, elective courses, and co-curricular activities, equips students with the ability to express their thoughts with clarity and accuracy, enables them to test the validity of different approaches to reality, and assists them in framing coherent and persuasive discourse.  It prepares them for global citizenship, stewardship of the earth, and a productive career. An individual’s education is not completed in four years, but lasts a lifetime; therefore our curriculum is designed to graduate students with a passion for the intellectual life, a commitment to moral responsibility, and a desire to improve the human condition through socially conscious citizenship. 

Enduring Understandings

Graduates will understand:

  1. The value of intellectual inquiry and the search for truth as a life-long habit 
  2. The varieties of knowledge, perspectives, traditions, and experiences of the human condition
  3. The worthiness of imaginative and creative exploration
  4. The power of ideas to shape the worlds in which they live
  5. The responsibility of each person to contribute to the common good
  6. The value of communities characterized by freedom, social justice, mutual respect, and inclusion
  7. The need to relate responsibly to the natural world and develop habits for sustainable living
  8. The imperative to act ethically and to be morally responsible and civically engaged
  9. The significance and impact of globalization on every facet of society.

Outcomes of the General Education Curriculum

A Saint Michael’s liberal arts education is transformative in many ways, providing the following essential outcomes.

Areas of Knowledge

Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  1. The ways artists, writers, and thinkers from the past and present, in both one’s own culture and others, have found and created meaning, value, conflict, and beauty in the world
  2. Texts and beliefs that shape the Catholic and wider Christian traditions, and the importance of religion and spirituality in human experience
  3. Key concepts and theories underlying different modes of thought as well as the assumptions on which they are based
  4. The ways that societies have developed through complex socio-economic, religious, political, cultural, or other factors
  5. The physical and natural world and modes of inquiry utilized by the sciences
  6. Theories that explain human behavior, institutions, or social systems
  7. Methods, approaches, and tools for making ethical decisions in personal, professional and social contexts
  8. Global issues that impact the common good.

Intellectual and Practical Skills

Students will be able to:

  1. Think critically, analytically, and creatively, integrating demanding texts and other media within and across disciplines
  2. Communicate ideas clearly and effectively in oral and in written form
  3. Use quantitative reasoning to evaluate and solve problems
  4. Demonstrate skill in a second language
  5. Engage in artistic expression
  6. Conduct research by identifying, evaluating, documenting, and synthesizing information from diverse and reliable sources
  7. Work collaboratively as a member of a team to advance the understanding of a topic or to solve problems
  8. Critically reflect upon their personal and cultural assumptions and examine how these affect their values and behavior
  9. Participate intelligently and respectfully in written and spoken discourse with people of similar and differing beliefs.

Liberal Studies Curriculum

The specific minimum requirements of the Liberal Studies Curriculum (LSC) are:

First Year Seminar (one course)

Foundations in Faith, Values, and Thought:

Fundamental Philosophical Questions (one course)

Study of Christian Traditions and Thought (two courses)

Ethical Decision-Making (fulfilled by a course(s) in the major; every major is designed to fulfill this automatically)

Pathways to Understanding the World:

Global Issues that Impact the Common Good (one course)

Historical Studies (one course)

Literary Studies (one course)

Processes of Scientific Reasoning (one course)

Quantitative Reasoning (one course)

Second Language (zero to two courses depending on placement)

Social and Institutional Dimensions of Human Behavior (one course)

Participatory Learning and Competencies:

Artistic Experience (one half-course or full course)

Experiential Learning (internship, qualifying Service-Learning courses, Faculty-Student Research, Study Abroad or designated co-curricular experiences; may not be fulfilled in the first year of college studies)

Oral Communication (included throughout the curriculum; each major is designed so that the student fulfills this requirement automatically)

Written Communication (included in courses throughout the curriculum, especially in First Year Seminars and in at least one designated course in each major)

All Saint Michael’s students must demonstrate entry-level writing proficiency, which we define as the ability to write a short essay with a well-defined point, logical organization, and a minimum of surface errors that interfere with comprehension. This requirement ensures that you have the writing skills necessary to succeed in all your courses at Saint Michael’s.  Toward that end, faculty will review your writing for entry-level proficiency primarily through First-Year Seminar. Students who do not meet the requirement will need to develop proficiency by taking EN 101: College Writing.

List of LSC courses by category:

First Year Seminar:


Fundamental Philosophical Questions:


Study of Christian Traditions and Thought:
   First course:


  Second course:


Global Issues that Impact the Common Good:


Historical Studies:


Literary Studies:


Processes of Scientific Reasoning:


Quantitative Reasoning:


Second Language:

All students are required to achieve the low-intermediate level of a second-language in order to graduate from the College. 

Fulfillment of this second language requirement may be demonstrated by:

a) placing above the second-semester language course level on the college’s language test;
b) passing a second semester language course level at Saint Michael’s College;
c) passing a second semester language course level at another institution (the course has to be pre-approved); 
d) passing an Advanced Placement test offered by the College Board with a score of three or higher (four or higher for Latin);
e) passing an SAT II language test at the level specified by the College for that language;
f) submitting a record showing that the student received at least partial secondary education outside the United States in a language other than English 

Students who choose option a), b), or c) and studied Spanish or French in high school or learned it at home and want to continue these languages at SMC will be asked to take an on-line language placement test at home early in the summer.  Then, during a summer registration day, students will take the written portion of this language placement test. 

All other students who want to take a test in a language other than Spanish or French and want to continue the same language and want to choose a), b), or c) will take a different placement test during a summer registration day.  Further information on the second language requirement is available from the program’s coordinator, Hideko Furukawa, at 802-654-2760.


Social and Institutional Dimensions of Human Behavior:


Artistic Experience:



Experiential Learning:

What is the Experiential Learning graduation requirement at SMC?

Experiential Learning means putting into practice.  Through direct engagement with the situations of the life outside the classroom and participation in a recursive practice of action and reflection, learners extract meaning from their experience in applied settings.  Along the way, students develop the skill, intelligence, and perceptivity to act in new and recurring situations.  A wide variety of experiential activities, both curricular and co-curricular, are possible at St. Michael’s College.  For these opportunities to qualify for the experiential learning graduation requirement, students are expected to demonstrate a high level of engagement, responsibility, and personal investment in the activity.

Options for fulfilling the EL requirement

This requirement may be fulfilled through credit-bearing or non-credit bearing experiences that enhance student learning through practical application of concepts learned in the liberal studies curriculum, the major or co-curricular activities.  Some experiences require specified levels of engagement or achievement.  In most cases, the requirement will be filled in the sophomore, junior, or senior year.  There are 6 areas of experiential learning from which students may choose to focus their energies in completing the requirement.  Many students can and will engage in more than one of these experiences.



Curricular (credit-bearing) options (such as study abroad, academic internships, student teaching) are automatically tracked and recorded by the registrar.   For designated co-curricular and non-credit-bearing options (such as certain kinds of community service, undergraduate research, or leadership positions to name a few), students should declare their intentions to pursue a particular co-curricular experience in fulfillment of the Experiential Learning Requirement at the outset of the experience.  This should be done in consultation with and by approval of the designated mentor-facilitator in each respective program area. This same faculty or staff mentor-facilitator is ultimately responsible for certifying the student’s completion of the Experiential Learning Requirement.  A form for documenting the successful completion of the EL requirement can be found on the portal (under Academics → Registrar → Documents & Forms → Experiential Learning Form).


Credit-Bearing Internships
Off-campus internships completed with direct supervision or mentorship from faculty of the College.  Business students enroll in BU 498.  Media  Studies, Journalism, and Digital Arts students enroll in MJD 413. Environmental Studies, ES 499. All other majors, initially enroll in ID 499 until a department specific prefix can be assigned.  Contact: Joanne LaBrake-Muehlberger, Director of Internships.

Non Credit-Bearing Internships
Off-campus internships completed without direct supervision or mentorship of someone at the College will be treated essentially as a co-curricular Individualized Learning experience (see EL area #6).

Practicum Courses
Psychology Practicum, PS 450 and PS 460, Contact: Psychology Department Chair
Student Teaching, ED 421 or ED 424, Contact: Education Department Chair
Experiential Portofolio, BU 495, Contact: Business Department Chair
Emergency Services Training: EMT I, EMT II, FF1, Contact: Peter Soons
Production Practicum: Stage Management, TH 273, Contact: Fine Arts Chair
Writing Center Coaching: Students are nominated and then selected to take EN 314: Teaching Writing, a course that qualifies them to become coaches at the College’s writing center.  This course is followed by a coaching commitment in the Writing Center. Contact: Tim Mackin, Director of the Writing Center.
The Defender: The Defender is the student designed and produced campus newspaper. Students who want to take on the responsibility of managing the Defender enroll in MJD 433: Publication Management.  Contact: Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts Department Chair


Study abroad for a semester, a year, the summer or for shorter study away opportunities, including study trips led by Saint Michael’s faculty. Contact: Peggy Imai, Director of Study Abroad

Extended Service Trips
The College’s M.O.V.E program offers students the chance to work among some of the world’s most destitute peoples through International Extended Service Trips. Contact: Heidi St. Peter, Director of M.O.V.E.


Students and faculty work together on independent research projects which may be for credit or not-for-credit, take place on or off the SMC campus, and occur either during the academic year or the summer.  The work may lead to publication and/or presentations at academic conferences. Students are required to submit a report to the VPAA’s office at the culmination of the research project. Examples:

Summer research funded by an External Agency
Summer research either at Saint Michael’s College, at a research university, or at a national laboratory, with funding provided by an external agency at the state, regional or national level. Examples of research opportunities include:

Vermont EPSCoR’s summer internship program
National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates
NASA VT EPSCoR Summer Research
US Department of Energy National Undergraduate Fellowship
Contact: Faculty members in your area of study

Summer research funded by Saint Michael’s College
Vice President for Academic Affairs Research Grants for directed summer research on campus. All academic fields, including Humanities, Social Sciences, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences are eligible. Contact: Office of the VPAA

Summer research through the Center for Social Science Research
Research fellowships are available to students who wish to pursue an independent research project under the guidance of a faculty sponsor. These projects are funded and include a stipend of up to $3,700 for students working full time on a project for at least two months in the summer. Contact: Professor Herbert Kessel, Department of Economics.

Honors Research in Psychology: PS 408. Contact: Psychology Department


Community Engaged Learning
A number of courses at Saint Michael’s have a Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) component, including local, domestic and international learning opportunities.  In many of these courses, the CEL component is significant enough to fulfill the Experiential Learning requirement.  These courses are designated as such in the catalog. In addition, a two credit course is being offered to fulfill this requirement, CEL 205 - Critical Perspectives of Service  .  First-year seminars may not be used to fulfill the EL requirement.   Contact: Joan Wagner, Director of Community Engaged Learning

Community Service
Community service engages students in activities that primarily focus on freely providing time, talent, and energy to address human and community needs.  As students participate in activities designed to build community and respect the value and dignity of all, they come face-to-face with complex societal issues and their role in creating a more just world. Opportunities for formal learning may arise through orientation, training, and reflection activities provided by MOVE or a partnering organization. Designated levels of activity in community service qualify to fulfill the EL requirement. Contact:  Heidi St. Peter, Director of M.O.V.E.


Opportunities for Leadership Development exist in a variety of co-curricular programs on campus.  Achieving and acting in specified leadership levels fulfill the EL requirement.  For information on each, contact the following:

Edmundite Campus Ministry: Anna Lester or Jason Moore
Fire and Rescue Program: Peter Soons
Intercollegiate Athletics: PKLA Programs: Meggan Dulude
Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts: Heidi St. Peter
Onion River Review: Prof. Will Marquess
Orientation Leadership and Student Association: Grace Kelly
Residence Assistant (RA) Program: Catherine Welch
Army ROTC and Air Force ROTC
Wilderness Program: Todd Wright


The Individualized Learning option allows for a variety of independent student experiences including a substantial commitment to one or more of the following: a non-academic internship; an off-campus workplace; a project designed to benefit the community or natural environment; or other combination of non-classroom learning situations which actively engage students in intellectual, emotional, social, or physical learning tasks. Students enroll in a half-course EXP 401 - Seminar in Experiential Learning  during their final year of studies at Saint Michael’s College in order to synthesize and critically reflect on their customized, hands-on experience. Students should enter the course with at least one focal experience in mind and have already completed the independent learning experience prior to taking this course. For more information on pursuing individualized learning, consult Joan Wagner. 

Courses that fulfill one of the six areas of the Experiential Learning requirement: