Barnard Foundations, Or, The Modes of Thinking, Or, ‘You Still Have To Take P.E.’

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No current undergraduates are actually going to feel the effects of Barnard’s new curriculum, so Bwogger Maddie Stearn decided to meditate on the less-important curriculum questions. First and foremost, what do we call it?

Like all of the greatest naming debates of our time—the plural for Prius, Two-Thousand-Ten vs. Twenty-Ten, and, of course, Deantini—Barnard’s new curriculum is poised to split the next generation of thinkers into two camps: the Foundations vs. the Modes of Thinking.

Unlike previous naming debates, however, it looks like there is a correct answer here. So some people are just going to be wrong.

The new curriculum has two names that technically refer to two different concepts: “Foundations” and the “Modes of Thinking.” According to the Barnard website, “Foundations” is the official name for the entire curriculum, and the “Modes of Thinking” happen to fall under Foundations’ umbrella.

The names will doubtless cause unnecessary confusion among people who won’t bother to look at the website. This screenshot is all the explanation you really need:

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We hope that by 2024 everyone will get the hang of it.

But when the youth of 2020 come dancing down the halls in academic reverie, how will they refer to the general education requirements?

Will they say, “I still have 4 Foundations left,” or, “I’m half way through the Modes?” Will they shorten “Foundations” to just “Foundies?” Will they boldly call the requirements the “F’s” (which is bound to confuse their families)?

As always, we welcome nickname suggestions in the comments.

Perhaps more important than the name(s), the new requirements are supposed to make up about 30% of a Barnard student’s curriculum. Foundations will also allow a single course to satisfy up to two requirements, which was not the case with the Nine Ways of Knowing.

You can check out all of the requirements below, including the fancy names for all of the “Modes” classes.

For First-Year Students
• 1 course each in First-Year Writing, First-Year Seminar, and Physical Education

Distributional Requirements
• 2 courses in the Languages
• 2 courses in the Arts/Humanities
• 2 courses in the Social Sciences
• 2 courses in the Sciences (1 with a Laboratory)

Modes of Thinking
• 1 course in Thinking Quantitatively and Empirically
• 1 course in Thinking Technologically and Digitally
• 1 course in Thinking through Global Inquiry
• 1 course in Thinking Locally—New York City
• 1 course in Thinking about Social Difference
• 1 course in Thinking with Historical Perspective

We imagine that both “Foundations” and the “Modes of Thinking” will provide countless marketing opportunities for Barnard Admissions.

All The Information You’ll Ever Need via Barnard

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