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.

The curriculum at F&M is called “Connections.” A true representation of a liberal arts education, our Connections 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.

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

Phase 1: Introduction

Connections Seminars

The Connections seminars are your introduction to the academic life of F&M. Seminars are small classes limited to 16 students. You will take your Connections seminar your first semester on campus. 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.

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.

Examples of connections seminars
  • American History in True Crime
  • Music and Emotion
  • African Americans in Paris
  • Great Mysteries of the Past
  • Race, Gender and Community
  • Banned Books and Jailed Writers
  • The Dance of Body and Earth
  • Politics and Culture of Food
  • Medieval Urban Life
  • Mountains, Natural Resources and Water

Curious to see more examples of Connections seminars? Check out our course catalog to see the variety of options we offer.

View the F&M Course Catalog

Connections & Your College House

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.


Phase 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.

Explore fields of study

Phase 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 a third of our students 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.

A Glimpse at Our Connections Courses

October 18, 2022

Making Connections: Talking Death, Horror and Dark Tourism with Professor of Marketing Jeffrey Podoshen

Connections courses blend several academic disciplines to dive into a wide range of unique topics. We met with Professor of Marketing Jeffrey Podoshen to discuss his Connections course, Death, Horror and Humanity. Professor Podoshen, who joined F&M in 2005, is regarded as one of the leading scholars in the world on dark tourism — a segment of the tourism industry in which people travel to sites of death, tragedy and suffering.

November 9, 2022

Making Connections: Exploring the Role of Emotion in Music with Karen Leistra-Jones

We met with Associate Professor of Music Karen Leistra-Jones to discuss her Connections course, Music and Emotion. “The course is structured around a single foundational question: Why does music move us?” Professor Leistra-Jones said. “We look at examples of different types of music and discuss how they convey emotions like happiness, sadness, and anger, but we also approach the question from philosophical, psychological, and anthropological perspectives."

January 10, 2023

Making Connections: Unraveling Political and Social Upheaval in Hugo’s ‘Les Misérables’

Lisa Gasbarrone, professor of French, taught a Connections course, “Les Misérables,” an in-depth reading and analysis of Victor Hugo’s renowned, 19th-century historical novel. Professor Gasbarrone — who joined F&M in 1986 — has recently been writing on the novel in Quebec and also on Victor Hugo (“Restoring the Sacred in Les Misérables”).

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.

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