2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog

2008-2009 Catalog

Divisional Requirements

Before the start of the senior year, each student must have completed, with a grade of 2.0 or higher, two courses in the social sciences (Division I), two courses in the natural sciences and mathematics (Division II), and two courses in the humanities (Division III). Courses satisfying this requirement are marked “I,” “II,”or “III” in the Tri-Co Course Guide. Courses identified as interdivisional, e.g. “I or III,” may be used by a student to satisfy either one—but not both—of the appropriate divisional requirements. Only one of the two courses used to satisfy any divisional requirement may be such an interdivisional course.

At least one required course in Division II must be a laboratory course, designated “IIL” in the Tri-Co Course Guide. One performance course in music, dance or theater or one studio art course may be used to fulfill one of the two course requirements in the humanities. A student may not use courses in her major subject to satisfy requirements in more than one division, unless the courses are cross-listed in other departments. Only one of the two courses used to satisfy any divisional requirement may be fulfilled by tests such as the Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or A levels taken on work done before entering Bryn Mawr.

The goal of the divisional requirements is to increase the breadth and variety of the student’s intellectual experience at the College. The divisions represented in these requirements describe not only different aspects of human experience, but also characteristic methods of approach. Although any division of knowledge is imperfect, the current divisions—the social sciences, the natural sciences and mathematics, and the humanities—have the advantage of being specific while still broad enough to allow the student a good deal of flexibility in planning her coursework.

Social Sciences (Division I)

The social sciences are concerned with human social behavior; the motivations, institutions and processes that shape this behavior; and the outcomes of this behavior for different groups and individuals. Areas of inquiry include such wide-ranging topics as policy-making, cultural change, revolutions, poverty and wealth, generational conflict and international relations. The social sciences provide the student with a set of theoretical frameworks with which to organize her analysis of these substantive areas. At the same time, they offer a set of methodological tools with which to test empirically—in the uncontrolled laboratory of the real world—the hypotheses that these frameworks generate.

Natural Sciences and Mathematics (Division II)

Knowledge of the physical world is a fundamental part of human experience; understanding the workings of nature is essential to our lives. To achieve this understanding, the student should be familiar with the concepts and techniques of the natural sciences as well as mathematics, the language of science. This understanding must go beyond a knowledge of scientific facts to include a facility with the scientific method and the techniques of scientific inquiry, logical reasoning and clear exposition of results.

Humanities (Division III)

The humanities encompass the histories, philosophies, religions and arts of different cultural groups, as well as the various theoretical and practical modes of their investigation and evaluation. In humanities courses, the student creates and/or interprets many different kinds of artifacts, compositions, monuments, and texts that are and have been valued by human cultures throughout the world.

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Updated August 25, 2008 by Tracy Kellmer