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. 

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.

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. 

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.

  • 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. 

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