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.
There are three phases of Connections: Introduction, Exploration, and Concentration.
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 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.
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.
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 arts, humanities, social sciences, sciences, languages and non-western cultures, expanding your intellectual horizon, getting familiar with and finding connections among a wide range of subjects.
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:
Business, Organizations and Society-Environmental Studies
Film and Media Studies-Music
Examples of special studies majors:
History of Medicine
Biocultural Studies of Gender
Urban Inequality and Education Studies
Ethics, Law, and Business
Claire An '17 has a passion for science and music. Discover how she combined these into a double major in biochemistry and music.
"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.