The four-year Christ College curriculum fosters the skills of critical reading, research, and effective written and oral communication while exploring the great questions that have animated human inquiry throughout history. In small seminar-style classes led by extraordinary faculty, students purposefully engage works of literature, philosophy, history, theology and the social sciences.
The Christ College program fulfills many of the Valparaiso University general education requirements, allowing students to be members of Christ College while earning their bachelors degrees in any major.
The Freshman Program – Encountering influential texts
The Freshman Program, Texts and Contexts, is a two-semester sequence that meets every weekday. For most of the year, the focus is on primary readings in history, literature, philosophy, and religion from the ancient world to the present day. Students learn to refine and express their ideas in a variety of arenas, including scholarly writing, theatrical performance, and public debate.
What does it mean to flourish as a human being?
That question guides the approach to the philosophical and religious texts Christ College students consider in Texts and Contexts I. Students engage texts directly, learning to interpret demanding material and discussing the reading with peers in small seminars four days a week. Once a week the entire first-year class gathers for a lecture, given by a member of the Christ College faculty or a scholar from outside the College who has special expertise in the subject matter. These lectures, which are followed by hourlong question-and-answer sessions, help students understand the historical context and milieu of a given text.
Weekly short writing assignments hone students’ ability to create compelling arguments in response to a text. Grades for the first semester are recorded as “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory,” although professors give writing assignments “advisory” grades in traditional letter format to help students gauge their progress.
Participation in the The Freshman Production is an integral part of the Christ College Freshman Program. Preparation begins with a weekly drama workshop; students then divide into teams dedicated to scriptwriting, music composition and performance, lighting, prop management, direction, and performance. The work culminates in the November staging of an original 90-minute theater piece, with music, inspired by ideas and texts students encounter in their Christ College coursework.
Texts and Contexts II begins with a cycle of close reading, discussion, and writing similar to the first semester’s, focused on a different set of texts and a different question. Interrogating texts that include literature as well as modern philosophy and theology, students concentrate on questions dealing with the nature of freedom, its limits, and conflicts that surround it.
In the final seven weeks of Texts and Contexts II, students choose from seminars on topics relevant to the larger themes of the course. Each student conducts a major investigation of a problem formulated within the seminar and produces a substantial research paper. The research students conduct for this seminar sharpens students’ skills and ability to evaluate sources of information, and topic selection often leads to the discovery of lifelong, vocational interests.
Like the Freshman Production, the Oxford Debates are a much-anticipated public event that forms a critical part of the training of first-year students at Christ College. Four questions are researched and debated by eight teams of students (representing the pro and con side of each question). At the conclusion of each debate, the audience selects the winning team.
Experiencing approaches to knowledge
Requirements for graduation with a Christ College honors designation include a series of courses that introduce students to a variety of methods of inquiry into human cultural production and the natural world. These courses are typically, but not always, taken during the sophomore year. See Honors Designations for specific requirements.
Sophomores, juniors, and seniors in Christ College are also expected to enroll in the Christ College Symposium, a monthly lecture series featuring distinguished scholars from around the world in conversation with the Christ College community.
Achieving intellectual independence
During the third and fourth years in Christ College, students delve further into their interests, choosing from a variety of seminars that cover a wide range of topics. Students select research problems related to seminar topics and produce seminar papers; in one of these courses the student will request a course intensification and write a longer paper that is submitted as an honors thesis. With permission, students may undertake independent research projects under the supervision of a faculty member.
A capstone senior colloquium is among several courses that focus attention on the student, calling for integration of the knowledge and skills acquired during the college career and preparing the student for the journey ahead.
See Honors Designations for specific requirements.
Christ College students graduate as Christ College Scholars or Christ College Associates, designations that reflect their distinguished achievement at Valparaiso University.
Complementary Major or Minor in Humanities
Over the course of fulfilling the requirements in Christ College a student may additionally earn a complementary major or minor in humanities.