You should start by remembering that this is your chance to imagine an "ideal " curriculum for yourself, and then discussing the practicalities with your advisor. No two contracts are exactly alike, but the Graduation Contract Committee will use the following expectations when negotiating with you.
We ask that you have an area of Emphasis. Many students develop their ideas for an emphasis by consulting the requirements for a standard "major." However, we encourage Johnston students to consider non-standard, interdisciplinary, and experiential learning, too. In fact, you may have come to Johnston in order to design your own special program. An emphasis usually has at least 10-12 courses. There is no single model for an emphasis, but you can consider the kinds of questions that committees and advisors typically ask.
For example, will your mastery of your emphasis deepen over time by the inclusion of upper division courses and challenging work? If you are combining disciplines, how well balanced are the selections? How much will your cross cultural experience inform your emphasis? If it is appropriate, is a theoretical component planned for by your emphasis? If you project independent studies, do you have some idea of who might sponsor them? Have you considered internships and other experiential learning opportunities?
Often, you will include a senior project in your concentration. About 80 percent of Johnston students complete one, but it is not necessary to do so. If you do propose a senior project, it should synthesize your learning. Think about the appropriate scale for what you want to do. How far do you want to aim beyond your foundational work and stretch yourself into new areas? What will be the best timing across the senior year for your work? Trying to cram ail of the project into tl1e last semester is usually not as successful as pacing it across the year. Is there an opportunity for a presentation of your work to the community through options like the teaching of a course, a presentation, an exhibit, a performance?
CAS students fulfill this expectation by meeting the Liberal Arts Foundation requirements listed in the college catalogue. Johnston students develop their breadth categories by "addressing the objectives of the Foundation," but it is not necessary to meet the specific Foundation requirements with courses specified by the University. It's tempting to be rather mechanistic about breadth courses, and merely develop a kind of "check list" of what appears to be broad learning. But we hope that Johnston students will be exploratory, and treat the breadth expectation as an invitation to explore "undiscovered country." Some students are able to connect the breadth courses to their emphasis in innovative, interdisciplinary ways, and we encourage this kind of design. Remember that you're a candidate for the baccalaureate degree, that is, a degree signifying a liberally educated person, not just a person trained in a specific concentration.
Why take risks in a new territory? Sometimes it's enlightening to learn the protocols of an unfamiliar or intimidating discipline-even if you don't do as well as you expect. (Remember that the class contracting process should help you individualize breadth courses, too.) You may see an intriguing interdisciplinary Johnston seminar that works as a breadth course for you. Sometimes you discover a new passion or learning skill Developing a wide spread of breadth courses will most certainly demonstrate a reasonable background in the liberal arts.
Whatever the reasons for your breadth selections, you should make the case for how courses outside your emphasis demonstrate broad categories of learning. Some Johnston students follow LAF categories rather closely; others invent their own categorizations. We urge you to take at least one course in most of the major disciplines, and particularly that you do work in the methodologies associated with these disciplines: humanities, social science, natural science, foreign language, quantitative reasoning, and creative arts. If any of these areas are very thin or missing entirely from your contract, prepare a well-developed rationale to justify their absence.
The expectation that you participate in cross cultural leaning off campus comes as close as possible to a Johnston "requirement." We define "cross-cultural" as having considerable exposure (a month or more) in a culture not your own. The purpose of such an experience is for you to know what it is like to be marginalized, or a "minority," within another culture. As a result, we hope that you will have a richer appreciation, understanding and acceptance of both that culture and yourself. If you are already a minority member of American society, it should give you a double perspective on the challenges you face at home.
There are many ways to address cross cultural learning. Although this aspect of your contract does not have to be addressed through a course that you take for credit, you do need to include a plan for meeting the cross cultural expectation in order for a committee to pass your contract. Study or travel abroad is an obvious choice, but some students develop other options, such as living or working in a marginalized sub-culture in the United States. For example, you might choose an internship in an inner city elementary school, or on an Indian reservation. Another possibility is to live in a foreign culture during one of your summers. Given all these options, it is unlikely that you will not identify an appropriate cross cultural experience.
In rare instances, a student will successfully make the case that immersion in the University of Redlands is a cross cultural experience. If you and a committee negotiate this option, you write an essay about your case and submit it to the Director. S/he will decide if you have met the committee's expectation. If you plan to spend an Interim, a semester, or a whole year studying in a foreign country, you want to plan ahead. Many of the "study-abroad" programs ask you to prepare in specific ways for their institution. If you wait until the last minute, it's much harder to fit a quality cross-cultural experience into an already crowded schedule, or to meet the prerequisites of many programs. With this loss of flexibility, the cross-cultural experience becomes more of a chore than an enriching experience, and its value is diminished. The University offers many excellent international travel and study programs, and we urge you to discuss them with the Dean of Special Programs, Ben Dillow.
"Scotland is tremendous. I've done a fair amount of exploring in the midlands between the Firth of Forth and the Clyde. I met a Viking Maritime Archeologist. He's like a partying Indiana Jones that speaks five Celtic and Nordic languages ... So life here is great. I'm leaving to tour Europe on Saturday, in Paris for three days, and on to more. I've realized that riding twenty five miles on a crappy bicycle to Loch Lommond with a thirty pound pack on your bade is a bad idea, and there's way too little security at most ancient ruins and historic castles and landmarks after midnight. Right now, I'm helping lead the 1st Glasgow; the first registered Boy Scout Troop in the world. I had to drop fencing to do it, but I love it, and it's much more rewarding."
-Joshua Bains, JC class of 2001