Location: Ruane Center for the Humanities 233
Alexander N. Moffett, Ph.D., Program Director
Dana L. Dillon, Ph.D., Associate Director
A Providence College education prepares a student to be someone, more than to do something. It prepares students to hear more when they listen, reach deeper when they think, and say more when they speak. The Development of Western Civilization (DWC) program, the cornerstone of our Dominican, liberal arts education and the centerpiece of Providence College’s Core Curriculum, is at the heart of this preparation.
When it was first introduced in 1971, DWC was the only program of its kind in the nation. Four decades later, the DWC Program has been revitalized in ways that will develop active, engaged learners, well-prepared to succeed in the 21st century. Anchored in tradition, the revitalized DWC remains unique among core curricula in higher education in terms of its intellectual goals, structure, and pedagogy.
DWC is an intensive introduction to the Humanities through the engagement of faith and reason with an emphasis on the intellectual sources of Western Civilization. The recently revitalized DWC is a four semester, 16-credit course taken in the freshman and sophomore years, organized around large lecture and small seminar-style classes. It is taught by a team of three faculty members, covering the Ancient, Medieval, and Modern periods of Western Civilization in the first three semesters, followed by a team-taught colloquium in the fourth semester focusing on a contemporary issue within the context of the Western tradition and, often, beyond the West. To facilitate deep reading, careful writing and thoughtful discussion, the seminar size is capped at 15-17 students.
DWC epitomizes interdisciplinary, team-teaching in an intimate environment. Faculty members teaching in the program - predominantly from the disciplines of philosophy, theology, literature and history - are committed to interdisciplinary inquiry and are experienced in collaborative pedagogy. Students are not only exposed to interdisciplinary approaches to enduring questions of human experience, they are asked to speak and write from an interdisciplinary perspective. The intellectual goals of the program include laying the foundation for developing the skills of lifetime learning and the intellectual habits central to the liberal arts. These include deep reading, thoughtful reflection, and articulation of reasoned arguments through an increased emphasis on the disputed question - a hallmark of the Catholic and Dominican tradition.
The first three semesters of the DWC consist of large lecture and seminar-style encounter with significant texts from Western and other world civilizations. These three semesters are four credits each and arranged chronologically, with the first semester dedicated to works from Antiquity, the second semester dedicated to works from the Medieval and Early Modern period, and the third semester dedicated to works from the Modern period. These team-taught classes engage students in contemplation of significant works of philosophy, theology and literature in their historical and cultural contexts, with special attention to the Catholic and Dominican tradition and the engagement between faith and reason.
The fourth semester of the Development of Western Civilization Program consists of a team-taught, four-credit colloquium. Students choose from a variety of colloquia according to their interests. Building upon the first three semesters, the advanced colloquium focuses on a specific, contemporary issue in the context of the western tradition. Colloquia seek to extend the interdisciplinary approach beyond the humanities, e.g., natural science, social science, education, and business, as well as seeking to relate western history and culture to the histories and cultures beyond the West. The fundamental goals of the colloquia are to extend the interdisciplinary learning experience beyond the humanities and to relate Western history and culture to the histories and cultures beyond the West.