How F&M Does
the Liberal Arts 

Liberal arts is a traditional academic program in Western higher education that focuses on exploring a wide range of fields and building learned skills like reading, writing, thinking, analyzing, debating and listening.

The Connections Curriculum

A key element of the liberal arts model encourages you to explore a variety of courses and disciplines before choosing a major. At F&M, this is accomplished through our curriculum (or the collection of courses and educational programs you’ll experience at F&M).

The curriculum at F&M is called “Connections.” A true representation of a liberal arts education, our curriculum encourages you to strive beyond traditional boundaries and limits and make “connections”: connections between disciplines that on the surface don’t seem related, connections between theory and practice, connections with other students and faculty and connections between your liberal arts education and the world.

Our Connections curriculum provides a framework for your intellectual development over your four years at F&M. It helps you become a creative, responsible and ambitious participant in learning who will be exceptionally prepared to live and work beyond your years in college.

  • Physics Hackman summer research
  • Fall Dance Concert 2019
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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)
  • Faculty
  • Jevelson Jean '21 (center) with classmates at Holtwood Gorge in Lancaster, PA during class fieldwork in October 2019.
  • F&M Theatre performed "Head Over Heels," a Go-Go themed musical and the first outdoor performance ever staged at the Winter Visual Arts Center.
  • French Coffee Hour at the Joseph International Center
  • Physics Hackman summer research
  • Professor Hart with junior Zulahat Hussein and sophomore Joy Sun on the campus arboretum collecting samples for their research.
  • Most students in the orchestra and wind ensemble are not music majors, one of the unique aspects to F&M’s music programs.
  • 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.
Three Phases of Connections 

There are three phases of Connections: Introduction, Exploration, and Concentration.

  • Students at the 'Futurism: Now' presentation of the comic book covers.

1. Introduction: Connections Seminars

The Connections seminars are small classes limited to around 16 students. Your classmates in these seminars will also live in your College House. You will take two Connections seminars your first year: Connections 1 and Connections 2.

Connections 1

Connections 1 is your first seminar, taken your first semester on campus. During the summer before your arrival, you’ll review the Connections 1 course descriptions for the fall semester, choose seven courses you’re most interested in taking and rank them in order of preference. These selections will help determine which Connections 1 you’re placed in.

This Connections 1 course is your introduction to the academic life of F&M. You’ll learn how to think critically, write succinctly, respectfully debate and accept constructive feedback with confidence—intellectual skills necessary for your entire career at F&M. 

Connections 2

Your second seminar, Connections 2, will typically be taken your second semester. Connections 2 will build on the foundation you gained in Connections 1, improving your ability to read closely, understand, reason and debate, and apply these skills to scholarly analysis.

 

  • Professor Leanne Roncolato teaches and International Trade class in Keiper Liberal Arts building.

2. Exploration

During the Exploration phase, you’ll do just that: explore. The Exploration phase is your chance to branch out and try new things, dive into subjects you’ve always been interested in and even discover new ones you might never have expected. You'll take classes in the artshumanitiessocial sciencesscienceslanguages and non-western cultures, expanding your intellectual horizon, getting familiar with and finding connections among a wide range of subjects.

 
  • In 2007, Mary Ann Levine and a team of F&M student researchers began excavating the area that is now known as Montoursville, Pa., about 2½ hours north of Lancaster. To date, more than 50 F&M students have participated in the several-weeks-long excavation, which has taken place every summer for the past five years.

3. Concentration

If you’ve felt yourself drawn to a specific subject—or even if you feel yourself drawn to several—during the first two phases of Connections, the final phase, Concentration, is when you’ll determine which fields you want to continue pursuing. 

You’ll choose a major, gaining depth and breadth within a specific field, which allows you to pursue advanced work, which may include independent study and original research. If you’ve uncovered unexpected connections between fields (which is our goal!), you have the option to declare more than one major. More than 50% of F&M students take the Concentration phase to build a unique educational experience tailored to their specific interests and career goals. They’ll declare more than one major or design a special studies or joint major.

Examples of joint majors:
  • Environmental Studies-Government

  • Public Policy-Sociology

  • Biology-Spanish

  • Business, Organizations and Society-Environmental Studies

  • Film and Media Studies-Music

Examples of special studies majors:
  • Consumer Behavior

  • History of Medicine

  • Biocultural Studies of Gender

  • Urban Inequality and Education Studies

  • Ethics, Law, and Business

 
Liberal Arts in Action 
F&M Documentary: Claire An '17

Claire An '17 has a passion for science and music. Discover how she combined these into a double major in biochemistry and music. 

Alumni Spotlight: David Lasky '94

"I was really attracted to experiential education and just making my living outdoors." Discover how his journey at F&M led David Lasky '94 to a career working with horses.

Alumni Documentary: Mary Haverstick ’82
"What brought this to now?" Discover how Mary Haverstick '82 explains the connection between her geology studies at F&M and her career in filmmaking.   
Ready to Learn More? 

Get More Details in the Course Catalog

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