Connect, Critique, Strive Across All Studies  

Students who learn to confront the complex issues of today's world become the leaders who solve everyday problems in whatever path they choose in life.

The Franklin & Marshall curriculum provides a framework for our students’ intellectual development over their four years at F&M, and helps them become the creative, responsible and ambitious participants in learning who will be exceptionally prepared to live and work beyond their years in college.

Called "Connections," our curriculum encourages students to strive beyond traditional boundaries and limits, and to make connections: connections across what might be considered typical structures of study; connections between theory and practice; connections between other students and faculty; and connections between their liberal arts education and the world.

Building in our students the ability to discover, to understand the limits of knowledge and the value of evidence, to respectfully debate with others, to refine in themselves a sense of judgment, and to analyze critically, speak persuasively and listen attentively — establishing  this foundation in early seminars prepares students to do in-depth exploration in whatever major they choose. 

  • F&M students climb trees at Baker Campus with Professor Sybil Gotsch in practice for climbing in Costa Rica where they will travel for the summer to study plants living in the canopy of the rainforest.
  • F&M students working with Professor Sybil Gotsch are studying how plants and leaves on the tops of trees take in water. They spent the summer in Costa Rica studying these plants and are also studying them in the greenhouse and lab in the Barshinger Life Sciences and Philosophy building on campus. Pictured is Andrew Glunk '15.
  • Students perform various dance pieces during rehearsal in Roschel Performing Arts Center. The Fall 2013 Dance Concert runs November 21,22, and 23.
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	Liz Albright ’12 holds a titmouse during a research trip to Millport. (Photo courtesy of Dan Ardia)
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	F&M Professor of Anthropology Misty Bastian (seated) and Julie Kopperman '14 have pored through posters, postcards, newspapers and journals to study depictions of American women's roles in World War I. (Photo by Melissa Hess)
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	Franklin & Marshall College Physics Professor Greg Adkins, with funding from the National Science Foundation, has embarked this summer on a three-year project to study the properties of an exotic atom called positronium. His research assitants are three Hackman Scholars, from right: senior Matthew Salinger, and juniors Christian Parsons (center, next to Adkins) and Ruihan Wang. (Photo by Melissa Hess)
  • Art History Professor Michael Clapper teaches a seminar class in the Phillip's Museum of Art. They are pictured in the Hudson River exhibit.
  • Franklin & Marshall students view various old Bibles and religious texts on display in the archives of Martin Library of the Sciences during their Cultural History of American Religion class with Professor Catherine Osborne. Here they look at Pennsylvania German broadsides, which were used as posters to put on display many years ago.
  • Image of classroom and lab research with students and professors in the Physics Department taken during summer of 2014.
  • Musicians of F&M Philharmonia prepare for a concert in Barshinger Center for Musical Arts
  • CPS lab help
  • Franklin & Marshall students trek toward an 11th-century church in Vladimir, northern Russia, during an August trip organized by the College's Department of German and Russian. The department is organizing a similar trip for the summer of 2013. (Photo courtesy of Jon Stone)
  • Wirth and Tookmanian discussing chemistry research
  • Author Rick Moody speaks to a crowd of students and faculty during a craft talk in the Philadelphia Alumni Writer's House. The event was organized by the English Department.
  • F&M students climb trees at Baker Campus with Professor Sybil Gotsch in practice for climbing in Costa Rica where they will travel for the summer to study plants living in the canopy of the rainforest.
  • English Department professor Nicholas Montemarano teaches a class in the Writer's House.

Imagine groups of students studying government, anthropology, economics and public health coming together to explore how to prevent a disease from crossing national borders. Or consider students studying sociology, computer science and world history working side by side to investigate the origins of issues of terrorism and national security, all working together to try to find solutions — all of this arises from our “Connections" curriculum.

Students may read more about the curriculum in the Franklin & Marshall College Course Catalog.

Three phases of "Connections" 

1.  Introduction 

Students participate in intimate, intensive seminars where they become members of F&M's intellectual community and learn the practices of critical analysis, research, writing and civil debate that will help them achieve their academic goals.

  • Professor Dan Ardia takes students in his biology class on a trip to Millport Conservancy as part of research they are doing related to land study.

For the first seminar, "Connections 1," students learn the intellectual skills necessary for their entire careers at F&M. Students in the seminars also live together in one of the College Houses, promoting the integration of the residence hall and the classroom that enhances both the academic success and the personal growth of students.

In the "Connections 2" seminar, students prepare for more advanced courses at F&M by improving on skills they began building in "Connections 1" — the ability to read closely, understand, reason and debate; refine judgment; and engage in analysis of problems examined from multiple perspectives. 

  • Students attend an English class in a seminar room in Brooks College House with professor Justin Hopkins

2.  Exploration 

Students complete courses among the traditional divisions of inquiry in the liberal arts, including the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, in addition to language study and exploration of the non-western world. Courses in each area have specific goals.

  • Arts: Create, perform or study art.
  • Humanities: Analyze the systems of belief, knowledge and ideas of the humanities.
  • Social Sciences: Learn about one or more societies or cultures in terms of their social, political, or economic organization and/or their history.
  • Natural Sciences: Practice the scientific method and better understand the larger social implications of science.

  • 2013 Hackman Scholar Hanyu (Peter) Sun '15 (grey shirt) works on a summer research project in the chemistry department of the Hackman Science Building with Professor Rick Moog.
  • Language Study: Acquire linguistic and cross-cultural competency throughout foreign language study.
  • Non-Western Cultures: Gain an understanding of the widely disparate ways in which human social and cultural life can be experienced and organized through an investigation of non-Western cultures and societies. 

3.  Concentration 

Students will choose a major, gaining depth and breath within a specific field. At F&M, focus on a major field of inquiry allows students to pursue advanced work, which may include independent study and original research. 

  • Anthropolgy professor Misty Bastian and Julie Kipperman '14 look at WWI era posters, photographs and postcards for a summer research project related to women labor during that period.

One out of every five F&M students — more than 20 percent — build a unique educational experience tailored to their interests by declaring more than one major or designing a special studies or joint major. Requirements are outlined in the F&M Course Catalog.

Examples of  recent special studies majors:

  • Consumer Behavior

  • History of Medicine

  • Biocultural Studies of Gender

  • Urban Inequality and Education Studies

  • Ethics, Law, and Business

Examples of recent joint majors:

  • Public Policy-Sociology
  • Biology-Spanish
  • Business, Organizations and Society-Environmental Studies
  • Film and Media Studies-Music