- To provide students with a background advantageous for graduate school.
Graduate programs appreciate students who come armed with a knowledge of key texts in areas such as philosophy, literature and the sciences. All disciplines are built on such core texts, which graduate students must master. Students will be better prepared for graduate school as they become comfortable with the type of intellectual work that engages graduate students, the reading and analysis of original scholarly texts.
- To provide students with a greater ability to read and carefully analyze.
Reading from challenging original works necessarily requires great attention and care and naturally elicits careful analysis. Such works are multifaceted and impossible to summarize or easily categorize, making independent analysis impossible to avoid. Students will leave the program with better critical thinking skills useful in all areas of their lives.
- To promote students' facility with the written word.
Many lower and most upper level classes within the certificate program have a writing component which involves the development of good research and analytical skills. The program will help students measure their improved ability to reason in writing through the initial and capstone papers. In addition, simply being exposed to the excellent writing and thought of great authors helps promote better writing.
- To encourage the ability to link ideas in various disciplines.
One of the university's goals is for students to "understand the basic concepts of the natural sciences, the interrelations of the natural and social sciences, and the impact of science on society." Students in the program will be strongly encouraged to make courses in the natural sciences as well as the social sciences a part of the mix in their certificate. Reading the great works of science, by such thinkers as Galileo or Darwin, will immediately draw student's attention to the interrelations of scientific and social/political ideas in a way no other type of study can.
- To prepare students better for contemporary careers.
These days, employees may change jobs or even professions several times in the course of their careers. Information is the currency of the modern economy and intellectual flexibility is crucial for navigating the new economy. Specialization is often important but inadequate for developing these qualities, since specific skills learned in college are often superceded within several years of graduation. The certificate program will provide students with the general intellectual strength that will allow them to negotiate their careers more successfully.
- To enrich students' university experience and encourage lifelong learning.
Reading primary texts provides students powerful categories with which to reason, and allows them to experience more continuity across subject matters in and outside of their majors. This experience encourages a frame of mind which is curious and thoughtful and able to continue learning independently after college.
- To Reward Student Excellence with Scholarships and Other Honors.
Honors and awards highlight student achievement in what will be a rigorous program of study. The program will provide as many scholarships as possible and will work with the honors program and honorary societies on campus to obtain recognition for students who have demonstrated excellence in the program.
- To provide a scholarly focus for co-curricular activities on campus.
A common learning environment for students participating in the program can be encouraged by activities such as a lecture series, a certificate-oriented student organization, on and off-campus reading groups, newspaper columns, essay contests, and library and department displays.