The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s four undergraduate colleges and is the primary expression of Villanova’s mission. Each year, the College enrolls approximately 900 new students.
The College emphasizes undergraduate instruction and offers programs of intellectual sophistication and rigor that prepare students of diverse backgrounds for intellectual, moral, and professional leadership in their chosen careers. Students graduate prepared for entry into various professions such as business, communication and media, education, the health professions, human services, and the sciences, among many others. In addition, students are prepared to enter graduate programs in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences, as well as business, law, and medicine. Recent statistics indicate that 36 percent of the College’s graduates go directly to graduate school and 68 percent find immediate full-time employment.
A Challenging Curriculum
The College’s commitment to liberal education of disciplinary breadth is implemented through a challenging a rigorous core curriculum and is characterized by engaged learning in small classes that utilize the Socratic Method, by integrated learning throughout the curriculum, by emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, and by extended learning outside the classroom.
The foundation for the implementation of liberal education is the two-semester interdisciplinary humanities seminar, Augustine and Culture: The Villanova Seminar, required of all first-year students. Based on God’s command to Augustine, “tolle lege,” “take up and read,” freshman seminars of no more than 15 students read primary texts, engage in faculty-led Socratic discourse, and develop critical-thinking skills by writing and revising papers of approximately three pages on a weekly basis. Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences do more writing and revision of their written work than most other undergraduate students at Villanova or at most of the University’s peer institutions.
Disciplinary depth for intellectual development and for career and professional preparation is provided by academic programs in the humanities, the natural sciences, the social sciences, and in applied and professional fields. Students in the College benefit from a wider array of faculty expertise and scholarly interest than might otherwise be available to a liberal arts college enrolling 900 freshmen. This is due to the College’s role in supporting the curricula of Villanova’s other undergraduate colleges. As a result, for example, students in the sciences will spend more time in laboratories and have more time to engage in research under faculty mentorship than most of Villanova’s peer institutions. Also, the College’s commitment to interdisciplinary learning is strengthened by the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions, which offers students the opportunity to develop an individualized, interdisciplinary major in the humanities.
Learning Outside the Classroom
Implementing the College’s goal of learning outside the classroom, the first-year seminars form the organizational basis for the Academic Learning Communities that provide for continued engaged learning and supporting activities in the University’s residence halls. The multicultural dimension of liberal education is facilitated by specific cultural offerings, by cultural and area studies programs, by the opportunity to pursue study abroad in cultural immersion programs, and by programs developed by students themselves. All disciplines provide such opportunities as well as the opportunity for academic and professional internship experiences.
Students develop leadership skills by participating in team-oriented projects that are curriculum based; through opportunities offered by a vast array of student organizations, such as the largest collegebased Special Olympics program in the country, the most extensive college-based Habitat for Humanity program in the country, and award-winning programs in new student orientation and publications; by athletics both intercollegiate and intramural; by student membership on all University committees; and by service learning experiences both local and abroad that, in addition to providing academic credit, employ a model of self reflection and character development based on St. Augustine’s insight concerning service.Opportunities are extensive.
Students are supported in their intellectual development and professional preparation by an extensive program of advising and mentoring by a community of faculty and staff who take as their mission Augustine’s instruction: “Set love as the criterion of all that you say, and whatever you teach. Teach in such a way that the person to whom you speak by hearing may believe, by believing hope, and by hoping love.”