(Last edited 10/8/2021)
You are encouraged to discuss proposing a Student-Initiated Connection between two or three courses with the relevant faculty, and then to propose a connection to the Committee on Educational Policy, if the following conditions are met:
- All courses involved in the connection have been or will be taken at Wheaton.
- Each course in your proposed connection is in a different area (the six areas are Creative Arts (ARCA), History (ARHS), Humanities (ARHM), Math & Computer Science (ARMC), Natural Sciences (ARNS), and Social Sciences (ARSS)). Thus in a proposed two-course Connection, both courses must be in two different Areas; in a three-course Connection, all three courses must be in three different Areas. Refer to the Course Catalog or consult with the faculty teaching the courses to ascertain the area of each course
- Neither English 101 nor First Year Seminar is one of the courses you plan to connect.
Note: The deadline to submit a proposal for consideration in any given semester is the same as the last day to drop a course without record. Refer to the academic calendar for the specific date.
How to prepare and submit a proposal for a Student-Initiated Connection
If the above are satisfied, then you may propose a two-or-three course Student-Initiated Connection by following these steps. Please read this list through before beginning the process to be sure you understand the timeline.
- At least 2 weeks before the deadline to submit the proposal (see above), read the Student-Initiated Connection Form (pdf) and the guidelines below for what defines a strong connection between courses: it is not as simple as the courses covering similar material.
- Verify that the courses you want to connect all come from different areas. Refer to the Course Catalog to find a particular course’s area; if it is not listed consult with the faculty member for that course or the chair of that department to ascertain the area.
- Read these examples of how students have successfully applied these guidelines to their proposals
- A minimum of 2 weeks before the deadline, consult with the faculty teaching all the relevant courses. [If this is impossible, consult with the chair of the relevant program.]
- Collect the supporting material listed in the Student-Initiated Connection Form (pdf) and write your proposal.
- At least 1 week before the deadline, submit your proposal to the faculty teaching each course in the Connection for their endorsement (or, if a faculty member is unavailable, the chair of that program).
- Revise as necessary based on the faculty’s suggestions.
- Choose a title that reflects the connection(s) you’ve identified.
- Either print and fill out the Student-Initiated Connection Form (pdf), or include all the information asked for on that form in the top of your proposal. Either way, be sure to include the correct course number, name, and semester of each course, as well as ascertaining and including the area in which each course lies.
- If the faculty members decide to endorse your proposal, either have them sign the appropriate row of the form, or ask them to send their endorsement to firstname.lastname@example.org, with subject line SIC Approval – [YOUR NAME]
- Submit your proposal along with Student-Initiated Connection Form (pdf) and supporting materials by the deadline described above. You may email your documents to email@example.com or drop off the hard copy to the Office of the Provost, Park Hall, 1st floor, Room 114.
Guidelines for Student-Initiated Connection Proposals
Goal of the proposal: convince the approval committee that you have made substantive connections between courses.
There are three main aspects to convincingly establishing such a connection: identifying and describing a meaningful connection, illustrating the connection(s) through specific examples, and explaining how the connection(s) you’ve identified enhances your experience of the courses involved, creating a whole that is stronger than its individual parts.
- Identify a Connection: Connected courses do not need to contain common content. Look for a meaningful, deep connection between the courses. For example, do the courses address similar questions using different methods of analysis, or approach very different questions in similar ways? Where there is common content, the overlap can be one facet of your proposal, but you will need a deeper connection as well. Note: if there is already an existing connection between courses similar to those in your proposal, mentioning that fact is not enough to convince the committee of your connection
- Illustrate the connection through specific examples: Support your rationale for the proposed connection with specific examples in your essay. For example, which assignments in either course could be used to demonstrate the connection between courses? Common content between the courses can play a role here, but will not be enough.
- Explain how the connection has enhanced the courses within it:
a) Be sure to reflect on the connection in both directions. There should be a synergy between courses that enhances the overall experience; the sum is greater that the individual parts. How is your view of each course influenced by the other(s)? What more can you get out of taking “course A” once you have also taken “course B”—and vice versa?
Note: We do not consider two courses to be connected simply because one course provides tools to help you understand the other. For example, Microeconomic Theory is built upon Calculus, so explaining in your proposal that Calculus 2 helped you understand Microeconomic Theory is insufficient motivation. How else did the Calculus course enhance your Economics course, and how can the Economics course strengthen your experience of Calculus?
b) If you are proposing to connect a course that contains a practicum experience, be sure not to neglect discussing the remainder of the coursework; that is, the reading and discussion that you do in the classroom and away from your field placement site. While the experiential component may be the larger part of the course, do not disregard other course material.
- It is hard to convince the committee of a substantive connection between two broad survey courses. The scope of such courses is so large that some overlap in content between two survey courses is almost inevitable, but finding convincing evidence of a deeper connection can be challenging.
In summary: Connections should provide breadth across the liberal arts curriculum more than depth in a particular subject area. Strive to do more than simply showing how a tool, idea, or concept learned in one course is applied in another.
Here are a few examples of well-constructed and convincing Student-Initiated Connection proposals to illustrate various ways students have put the above guidelines into practice
- Arabic in the Middle East, PolS 263 and Arab201, proposed by Eman Haj Alkhdair (pdf)
- The Blood Dancing in Our Veins, Bio 111, Mus 222, and Hist 143, by Ross Jude Cimagala (pdf)
- Botanical Imperialism, His 298 and Bio 261, by Grace Sherman (pdf)
- Disputed Origins: Now and Then, Soc 203, His 208, and Eng 235, by Anton Dababneh (pdf)
- Gender, Sex, and the Bible, WGS 398 and Rel 298 (pdf)
- Theory and the Marvelous, Anth 301 and Ger 298, by Molly Lowrie (pdf)