The Connections Curriculum

A great education consists not only of deep study within a field (your major), but also broad study across the expanse of human knowledge and creation. At F&M, this is accomplished through our curriculum – the collection of courses and educational programs you’ll experience at F&M.

Uncovering Connections

The curriculum at F&M is called “Connections.” A true representation of a liberal arts education, our curriculum encourages you to strive beyond traditional boundaries and limits and make connections : connections between disciplines that on the surface don’t seem related, connections between theory and practice, connections with other students and faculty, and connections between your liberal arts education and the world.

Our Connections curriculum provides a framework for your intellectual development over your four years at F&M. It helps you to become a creative, responsible and ambitious participant in learning who will be exceptionally prepared to live and work beyond your years in college.

 

Three Phases of Connections 

There are three phases of Connections: Introduction, Exploration, and Concentration.

1. Introduction: Connections Seminars

The Connections seminars are small classes limited to 16 students. You will take your Connections seminar your first semester on campus. During the summer before your arrival, you’ll review the Connections course descriptions for the fall semester, choose seven courses you’re most interested in taking, and rank them in order of preference. These selections will help determine which Connections seminar in which you are placed.

This Connections course is your introduction to the academic life of F&M. You’ll learn how to think critically, write succinctly, respectfully debate, and accept constructive feedback with confidence — intellectual skills necessary for your entire career at F&M. 

College Houses

Your first-year Connections course will often be taught in your F&M College House. Alongside your classmates, you’ll be assigned to your College House based on the interests you express for your first-year Connections course. All our College Houses are balanced places with students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. Our College Houses are not your average dormitory — they are lively hubs of intellectual, extracurricular, and social engagement that not only give you a place to hang out, sleep, and study, but also your own special place to belong.

Learn more about College Houses

2. Exploration

During the Exploration phase, you’ll do just that: explore. The Exploration phase is your chance to branch out and try new things, dive into subjects you’ve always been interested in, and even discover new ones you might never have expected. You'll take classes in the arts, humanities, social sciences, sciences, languages, and global cultures, expanding your intellectual horizon and finding connections among a wide range of subjects.

3. Concentration

If you’ve felt yourself drawn to a specific subject — or even if you feel yourself drawn to several — during the first two phases of Connections, the final phase, Concentration, is when you’ll determine which fields you want to pursue more profoundly. 

You’ll choose a major, gaining depth and breadth within a specific field, which will allow you to pursue advanced work, which may include independent study and original research. If you uncover unexpected connections between fields (which is our goal!), you have the option to declare more than one major. More than 50% of F&M students take the Concentration phase to build a unique educational experience tailored to their specific interests and career goals by declaring more than one major or designing a special studies or joint major. 

Examples of joint majors:

  • Environmental Studies & Government
  • Public Policy & Sociology
  • Dance & International Studies
  • Business, Organizations and Society & Art History 
  • Film and Media Studies & Music

Examples of special studies majors:

  • Consumer Behavior
  • History of Medicine
  • Biocultural Studies of Gender
  • Urban Inequality and Education Studies
  • Ethics, Law, and Business

These are just some of the distinctive ways our students have designed their own major. You can combine any two fields at the College to create your own.

Ready to Learn More?

Dive into our course catalog to discover how our curriculum crosses boundaries and interweaves multiple disciplines in ways you never expected.

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A Glimpse at Our Connections Courses

Exploring the Role of Emotion in Music

Music and Emotion, taught by Associate Professor of Music Karen Leistra-Jones, is structured around a single foundational question: Why does music move us? The course looks at examples of different types of music and discusses how they convey emotions like happiness, sadness, and anger, but also approaches the question from philosophical, psychological, and anthropological perspectives.
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Talking Death, Horror and Dark Tourism

Death, Horror and Humanity, taught by Professor of Marketing Jeffrey Podoshen, examines why humans are fascinated with horror, death and things that really scare us and make us feel unsafe. This involves examining horror films, dark tourism — tourism that involves death and suffering — and extreme heavy metal music.
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How F&M Does the Liberal Arts

The ampersand in the middle of our College’s name symbolizes the rich space of possibility that awaits you here. Meaning “both/and,” the ampersand is the purpose — and the power — of the liberal arts: recognizing and forming connections. You’ll embark on an educational journey that’s unique to you and gain the confidence to pursue whatever you dream. Because with a liberal arts education from F&M, you can do it all.

Discover how F&M does the liberal arts »