Your interests are unique. Your college courses should be too.

Let’s start with a quick quiz. How would you like to spend your first year at college?

A. Sitting in lecture halls and yawning through traditional general education requirements
B. Working with a team of students and professors to explore your interests from different perspectives.

If you answered B, you’ve come to the right place.

Compass Curriculum

At Wheaton, our unique Compass Curriculum is rooted in the liberal arts and sciences tradition with an innovative twist. Rather than taking a series of required courses across disciplines, you’ll choose areas of interest to you and analyze them through multiple perspectives. It’s a personalized experience that empowers you to explore your interests and pique new ones.

First Year Experience Courses

Your first semester at Wheaton will include a First Year Experience (FYE) course to set the foundation for interdisciplinary learning. FYE courses are led by two or more faculty members from different academic departments. You’ll work alongside a cohort of new students to explore complex issues from different viewpoints. This innovative approach to learning encourages critical thinking, teamwork and communication – key skills employers seek. You can choose from a variety of topics that interest you or explore something entirely new. Below is a preview of some of the FYE courses planned for fall 2024.

AI, Big Data, and You

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is everywhere. The short history and steady progress of AI had featured more hype than reality. Yet we now find ourselves faced with new data-driven models that exceed many of our expectations. New career paths are emerging and the careers of the near future will require computational skills that leverage the human and machine interface. In addition to the hands-on computational work, you will explore the implications AI has in our lives. Should we be concerned? Aren’t some AI models biased? Isn’t it cheating to work on drafts of your next paper with an AI?

Measuring Nature: The Art of Doing Science

In this course, you’ll address three questions: How do we measure the chemical world? What tools do we need to interpret scientific data? How do we unravel a scientific mystery? Throughout the semester, you’ll engage in fun, interactive chemical and artistic experiments. Whether you’re exploring the intricacies of light and color through pigment synthesis and painting, investigating the properties of matter through soap-making, or analyzing medication compositions, you will hone your skills in conducting experiments and interpreting data through scientific inquiry and creative expression.

Resilience through Movement & Theatre

Do you ever think about when you were little and would fall down on the playground, but would pop up again, and just keep playing? In this class, you will relearn that instinct. Through theater games, improv, Theatre of the Oppressed, movement pedagogy, and mind/body awareness exercises, you will develop practices that build a strong foundation for a successful college experience. The class is grounded in creativity, curiosity, and the courage to investigate new areas of knowledge and self that cultivate resilience and perseverance.

Social Empowerment through the Arts

Reaching out to connect with and support people here and around the globe is the central premise of this course. You will explore how people use performance, visual and verbal art forms to elevate controversial issues and unite people of diverse backgrounds and life experience. Required assignments will include readings on cross-disciplinary engagement within the empowerment model, research on relevant creative traditions, and discussions to nurture sensitivity and understanding for work across inherited perspectives. Students will participate in established outreach programs and design an empowerment-based project.

What is The Good Life?

This course poses the enduring question, “what is the good life?” You will critically examine historical and contemporary accounts on how to live well, starting with Plato’s Apology. Socrates’ life and death inspired three different ways of thinking about the best life. Accordingly, the course features three units: Happiness, Morality, and Meaning. This course will enlighten and empower you to pursue your own interpretation of “the good life.”

Fact or Fiction? Confronting Misinformation through Logic, Data, and Science

In a world where we are bombarded with all sorts of “information” every minute, how do we distinguish between guesses, factual information, misinformation, and malicious disinformation spread by bots? In this class, guided by a mathematician and an astrophysicist, you will use case studies to become a “data detective” using mathematical and scientific skills to help separate fact from fiction.You will visit on- and off-campus research facilities, use telescopes in the Wheaton Observatory to obtain data, and explore Wheaton’s Makerspace facilities to design and build instruments and use them to explore nature.

Course Curious?

You can spend your first year sitting in general education classes at another college – or creating a personalized experience at Wheaton. Explore all the opportunities we have to offer and discover how you can chart your own course.