FOUNDATIONS: A Knox education ensures that you are liberally educated-not simply a narrow specialist but someone who can place their expert knowledge in a larger context, who can think independently, solve problems, and see the big picture.
The Foundations goal plays a major role in your liberal education. It is through Foundations that you will become familiar with the breadth of knowledge represented by the full range of the liberal arts-including the sciences, fine & performing arts, humanities, and social sciences. The best education is one that touches all four areas. You'll become aware of multiple points of view (sometimes applied to the same topic!), and will be exposed to the challenge and benefits of integrating different ways of thinking and explaining. First-Year Preceptorial is an introduction to this broad type of approach to knowledge, and Foundations will take you further! Regardless of your major, you can be better at your Specialization because of your exposure to other disciplines through the Foundations goal.
Meeting the Foundations goal is straight forward. The goal has two interrelated parts. First, you need to complete the First-Year Preceptorial. Second, you need to earn at least one credit in each of the four major areas of the curriculum. In the Catalog and on the course schedules, you'll see courses from departments in the sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences that have been designated as meeting the Foundations goal.
Here's the important part: Your major, second field, and the need to study in each of the four areas are NOT necessarily separate tasks. We recognize that your major and second field already require you to take courses in certain of the four major areas of the curriculum. As a result, in order to meet the Foundations goal, you need only to earn a credit in those of the four areas not already included in your major and second field.Some examples will illustrate.
Some Foundations goals may be met experientially (see Experiential Learning). For example, it may be possible to partially address the arts Foundation goal by participating in the choir for an entire year. If you have ideas along these lines, you should discuss them with both your advisor and the head of the appropriate department.
There's lots of flexibility, then, in meeting the Foundations goal. But don't let that flexibility mislead you to thinking that Foundations isn't very important. Many faculty feel it is the single most important part of your education. You are encouraged to go beyond meeting the goal minimally; you'll find that most Knox students do! One reason is that learning broadly across all four areas of the curriculum provides you with an opportunity to pursue some of the most fundamental questions about what it means to be human. A few years ago, the faculty were asked to list what it considered a useful set of fundamental questions to guide every student's education. Here's their list:
You'll recognize a number of these questions from your First-Year Preceptorial-but not all. When you consider Foundations courses, we urge you to think in broad terms (as in the questions above) about what you'd like to know, not simply what fields of study you like!