The Foundations of Writing and Critical Inquiry

In an effort to build a sense of community and collegiality among first-year students, while providing the intellectual foundation and skills they need to flourish throughout their lives, the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) at Stevens Institute of Technology presents the Foundations of Writing and Critical Inquiry program.

This experience centers on a sequence of two common courses that every new student at Stevens takes during the first year:

  • CAL 103 - Writing and Communications

  • CAL 105 - CAL Colloquium: Knowledge, Nature, Culture

The Foundations Program

Together these courses provide students with the skills they need to become reflective, critical, expressive, articulate, and intellectually confident. The Foundations Program also helps students become oriented to college life while giving them a common base across majors and schools, enabling them to build a sense of solidarity and community.

CAL 103 follows a common assignment sequence and makes use of the same textbook across all sections, meaning that every first-year Stevens student reads and discusses shared materials, regardless of section or instructor. This allows students to engage in discussions and debates about the material outside the classroom.

CAL 105 is a thematic, interdisciplinary course designed to introduce students to the value and function of humanistic disciplines in their lives while also developing critical reading, critical thinking, and research skills.

Overall, the Foundations Program provides fundamental, pedagogical benefits to students at the earliest stage of their undergraduate education.

  • Sets the benchmark for standards in college-level writing and communications.

  • Provides a common curriculum and texts that become the subject of further inquiry and discussion outside of the classroom.

  • Introduces small class sizes that encourage peer and student-faculty collegiality.

  • Exposes students to influential texts that have impacted global thought over millennia.

  • Directs students to understand ideas in texts and apply them to our modern times.

  • Provides an intellectual and structural foundation for leadership development.

CAL 103 - Writing and Communications

CAL 103 enhances students’ communication skills through an emphasis on textual analysis, academic research, and public presentation. The course empowers students with the written and oral communication skills they will need for success in both the academic and professional worlds.

Special attention is given to providing strategies for formulating independent thought through the analysis of ideas presented by some of the world’s greatest authors. Through their own writing, students are then able to apply what they have learned to contemporary issues in today’s global society.

Topics covered in the readings include leadership, ethics, and community as well as the relationship between the humanities, science, and technology. As part of the course, students are introduced to the rich resources available to them in S.C. Williams Library.

CAL 105 - Colloquium: Knowledge, Nature, Culture

CAL 105 introduces students to all the humanistic disciplines offered by the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Scienceshistory, literature, philosophy, the social sciences, art, and musicin a focused and meaningful way.

By studying seminal works and engaging in discussions and debates surrounding the topics and ideas presented, students learn how to think critically, examine evidence in formulating ideas, subject opinions to rational evaluation, and to value and respect a wide diversity of opinions and points of view.

This course enables students to appreciate the enduring importance of the humanities, social sciences, and arts, and to recognize their relevance to contemporary society.