It’s All About the Connections

emilymartin

I know I’ve written about how cool our liberal arts curriculum is before, but I’m going to do it again because it’s that important. 

And if you’re going to make a major investment into a liberal arts school like Transylvania, I want you to know what you’re paying for – and don’t you?

This semester, I’m taking three classes (senior perks – I have basically all of my requirements completed already): Religion Senior Seminar, Islamic Religious Traditions, and Readings on Peace Education. This semester is also the first one in a while in which I’m not taking a communication class (my major) – that part’s a little strange, but I do love having the flexibility to try other academic fields.

Anyways, one of my favorite things about the liberal arts is that it teaches you to form connections in unlikely ways. You’ll be encouraged to connect the projects you do in an elective class to your major, or your post-college plans.

But sometimes, the classes themselves overlap, and that’s exactly what has happened to me this semester. There were a couple of weeks in which I felt a little déjà vu – we had very similar conversations in my three classes. And it was so exciting because I could easily bring in outside perspectives into each discussion.

The theme that brought such a strong connection between my three classes was terrorism. One of the books we read for Religion Senior Seminar was about the history of religion and violence. The last sections of the book were about more modern associations we make, based on recent events caused by religious extremists. Each world religion’s history was discussed and when we talked about the Islam chapter, I was able to contribute additional background information based on what we were talking about in my Islam class that week.

We haven’t talked about terrorism specifically in Islamic Religious Traditions – though we have learned much more about why associating the religion with its most extreme practitioners is really contradictory.

In my Peace Education class, I have definitely been able to put my other classes to work. Our major assignment for the class was a research paper, but Dr. Hurley encouraged us to be creative and pursue other kinds of projects with partners if we wanted. Two of my friends and I decided to do a group presentation about how the three Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) talk about peace. There was plenty of information from my two other classes that made it into this big project.

I loved seeing my classes connect so clearly because it makes it easier to understand information when it’s being repeated in different contexts. And it also allows me to study the same concepts from a variety of perspectives. I get a much more holistic understanding when I’m using these different lenses. And that’s what the liberal arts are all about.

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