Core Capstone: Living Wisdom: Contemporary Challenges

Core Proposal

The original model chosen for Core Reform in May 2001 proposed a 2 year foundational core. This model was revised into a four-year core moving one of the foundational courses into the senior year as a senior core capstone experience. This senior level course was defined to be an interdisciplinary (Philosophy and Religious Studies)course, a common learning experience and a capstone to the Salve Regina University Liberal Arts Core Curriculum: A Program Designed for Developing Lifelong Learners and Repsonsible Citizens of the World. Other common core courses include the first year Portal course: Seeking Wisdom (interdisciplinary Religious Studies and Philosophy), a Literature course: What it Means to be Human, a Religious Studies course: Christianity in Dialogue with World Religions and A Philosophy course: Philosophy and Responsibility. All students graduating from Salve Regina University will have these five courses in common. A common syllabus with 75% of its readings the same defines a common core course.

Capstone Development Team

All Faculty were invited to join the Capstone Development Team. Faculty volunteers included representatives from Religious Studies, Philosophy, English, Modern Languages, Psychology, Social Work, Mathematics, and Biology.

Points for Consideration

The Development Team began in the Fall 2004 by investigating models from different universities, discussing pedagogy and structure, purpose, and themes. Brainstorming and all visions were encouraged. One model emerged as a template for further refinement. The basic elements of consensus were grounding the Core Capstone in the Core Curriculum Goals and Objectives, making a specific connection to the first year Portal Course: Seeking Wisdom in terms of themes and a focus on Philosophy and Religious Studies content. Integration with the four-year core themes and the student's major and minor fields of study were encouraged where appropriate. The questions before the graduating senior were expected to be summative, worldview orientated and of a moral / social justice nature. At the end of the Fall semester these points of consensus were communicated at an open faculty forum where discussion, feedback and faculty input throughout the process were encouraged.

Futher Refinements

During the Spring of 2005 the thematic connections to the first year Portal Course: Seeking Wisdom were identified. The Capstone Course was named, Living Wisdom: Contemporary Challenges. The Theme in the Portal course of Human Suffering was linked to Human Needs and Human Development in the Capstone. The Theme of God in the Portal was linked to the theme of Dynamism of the Spirit in the Capstone. The theme of Nature in the Portal was linked to Ethics, Technology and Environmental Wisdom in the Capstone. The themes of Citizenship and Heores & Heroines were linked to the theme of Achieving Community in the Capstone. Core Goals and Objectives to be addressed in the Capstone were identified which included objectives under each of the Core Goals: An Education with a Catholic Identity, Liberal Arts, Developing Responsible Citizens of the World and Lifelong Learners. A liberal arts style seminar with 15-20 students enrolled and integrative learning assignments were identified in terms of teaching pedagogy. The student will rely on their four-year electronic portfolio as a means to integrate past work and engage in future minded worldview questions. Development Team members reviewed and discussed possible common learning texts appropriate to the themes and core goals and objectives. For the theme of Human Needs / Human Development texts under final consideration were Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy, by Carlos Eire; Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich and Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools by Jonathan Kozol. Texts for the theme Dynamism of the Spirit included The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler and In the Name of Jesus: Reflections of Christian Leadership by Henri J. Nouwen. For the theme of Ethics, Technology and Environmental Wisdom the books Another Turn of the Crank: Essays by Wendell Berry; Life Abundant: Rethinking Theology and Economy for a Planet in Peril by Sallie McFague and The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel were considered. And for the theme Achieving Community the books Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life by Richard Madsen, et al,; Perpetual Peace, and Other Essays on Politics, History and Morals by Immanuel Kant and Creating True Peace: Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World by Thich Nhat Hanh were considerations. One major common text is required for each theme. The two pilot sections on the Capstone course in the spring of 2006 tested out several of these texts.

Implementation Stages

In the Fall of 2005, a detailed course proposal was presented and endorsed by the Core Curriculum Advisory Committee. Following this endorsement the proposal was presented for discussion to the full faculty assembly and then endorsed the following month. Two pilot sections were offered in the Spring 2006 semester. Multiple sections are offered in the academic year 2006-2007 to the first senior class to graduate from the Salve Regina University Core Curriculum: A Program Designed to Develop Lifelong Learners and Responsible Citizens of the World.

Goals and Objectives

The following Core Goals and Objectives were identified as relevant to the themes and purpose of the Capstone, Goal 1: An Education with a Catholic Identity; understand the enduring influence of the Bible, Jewish, Christian, and specifically Catholic, symbols, stories, values and practices; evaluate their learning and actions from the perspective of Christian ethics; understand how to integrate faith, learning and service as a means to enrich personal and community life; cultivate attitudes and practices that reflect an abiding respect for the dignity of all persons and a commitment of social justice. Goal 2: Liberal Education: engage in critical self-inquiry that promotes self-knowledge in order to develop the ability to evaluate different opinions and beliefs, a willingness to test one's point of view against others, a willingness to recognize faulty thinking and seek other rational alternatives and a sense of collaboration by learning in community; apply their studies in the Liberal Arts and Sciences to contemporary issues and situations. Goal 3: Developing Responsible Citizens of the World: develop an understanding of their own culture, since this culture will be the base for cross-culture reference; gain awareness of culture differences in order to promote the respect and empathy for one another that is essential for dialogue; transcend the inclination to define themselves primarily in terms of group loyalties and identities. Goal 4: Developing Lifelong Learners: apply skills related to critical reading, critical thinking, and problem solving; integrate and synthesize information and ideas; develop the creative, critical and imaginative skills needed to recognize the beauty, the goodness and the breadth of human experiences. For additional course objectives and how the objectives link to the themes of the course, see the complete syllabus.

Capstone Course Proposal

This link provides a copy of the detailed Capstone Course Proposal submitted to the Core Advisory Curriculum Committee and the Faculty Assembly.

Core Capstone Course Proposal

The Dalai Lama's Art of Happiness is on the Capstone syllabus
The Dalai Lama's Art of Happiness is on the Capstone syllabus


Core Capstone Syllabus
Click here for link to Core Capstone Syllabus