Catalyst is student-centered, ensuring high quality instruction from tenure-track faculty that delivers the tools needed to impact the world. Nothing is required as part of the Catalyst curriculum that does not directly contribute to skill development.
Catalyst 110: Writing
This seminar emphasizes foundational skills in written communication essential to success in college. The primary objective of the seminar is to develop the basic writing and research skills students need in order to successfully navigate specific expectations in other courses and applied contexts. Students write several major essays related to the theme of the seminar. At least three of these projects involve significant revision and peer review, during which students will hone interpersonal oral communication skills and practice collaboration.
Catalyst 120: Quantitative Reasoning
This seminar emphasizes foundational skills in reasoning and quantitative literacy. The primary objectives are to develop basic skills in evaluating numerical claims and, when appropriate, using quantitative data to construct logically sound arguments. Students develop skills in critical analysis, specifically deductive thinking and/or scientific method.
Students will complete several required writing assignments emphasizing skills that both evaluate and construct quantitative claims. Each student will also prepare, practice, and perform at least one oral presentation related to the topic of the seminar. The seminar may be organized around any topic chosen by the faculty instructor, and the writing and research skills students develop will advance understanding of the seminar’s content focus.
Catalyst 210: Intercultural Competence
This seminar provides all students foundational skills in intercultural competency and further develops skills in writing and critical analysis, with a particular focus on identifying and challenging cultural assumptions. Students make critical comparisons between other cultures and their own in ways that encourage both a recognition of a plurality of values and an understanding of how one’s own worldview is shaped by a particular culture. To understand cultural differences, students must have some awareness of how inequality, power, oppression, and/or dominance have formed — and continue to impact — cultures. Students will become attentive to the ways in which their own cultural assumptions shape perception and begin to develop awareness of and empathy for the worldviews of other cultures. These issues may be addressed from any disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspective.
Catalyst 220: Integration
In this seminar, students will connect examples, facts, evidence, methods or theories from more than one discipline to diagnose problems or explore issues from different perspectives. The seminar must include one significant project in which students collaborate to employ at least two disciplinary approaches to address a problem, question or issue. Students will make oral presentations using appropriate language (with awareness of audience reception) to continue developing their public speaking skills. The topics for this seminar will involve multiple disciplines so that students can integrate modes of inquiry.
Catalyst 300: Applied Innovation Seminar
Teams of students collaborate in development of strategies to address large, open-ended problems, mentored by faculty members from across the liberal arts. Student teams present their proposals at a public forum near the end of the semester. The seminar requires engaging in independent research, developing a clearly defined approach, analyzing both evidence and proposed solutions, and working effectively with a diverse group. While each team is supervised by a faculty member, the majority of the work for this seminar is expected to be done autonomously in order to demonstrate mastery of applied innovation skills in ways that prepare graduates for independent work after college.