Welcome to Part 3 of “Exploring the Uncommon Core.” In Part 1, I covered the basic structure of the core, including the general components. In Part 2, I went into greater detail, exploring the P-EQs. This third and final part explores the IS Clusters and the CME. These two stages integrate tightly with one another, so looking at them together will give the clearest picture of how they function in harmony with both each other, and the rest of the core.
IS stands for “Integrative Studies.” The term is fitting, because IS classes allow you to integrate the learning model from the P-EQs into subjects of your choosing. Three IS-eligible classes make up the “IS Cluster.” Classes are deemed IS-eligible so long as they are at or above the 200 level. Additionally, only one IS course can come from your major. (The other two can come from minors, or be otherwise unrelated to your chosen programs.) These guidelines leave a lot of room for interpretation, and that’s great, because even if you don’t have minors, your IS Cluster offers you a chance to explore other interests you may have, whilst being secure knowing that you’re furthering your degree by getting core credit.
The Core Milestone Experience (CME) can only be started once you’ve finished your IS Cluster. The CME is a seminar where you take the themes from your three IS courses, and compile a project that ties them together into one piece that is representative of your learning journey. This is why choosing meaningful IS courses is important, because the richer your experience with them, the more material you have to draw from as you articulate your reflection.
The Uncommon Core is a unique and integral part of a Nazareth education, and its design allows for every student to experience a tremendous range of learning styles. Whether you enter into a professional program, or pursue an academic major, the Uncommon Core ensures that you reach outside your comfort zone and experience patterns of thought that may not be represented in your chosen areas of study. This may seem undesirable at first, but after experiencing the value that comes from having studied the gamut of academic disciplines, it’s easy to take that learning, and those new viewpoints, and use them to enhance your work in your own field.
It’s almost the same feeling as having come home from vacation. On the vacation, you were surrounded by new sights, new people, and new experiences, and when you come home, you see everything with fresh eyes, and new appreciation, because you’ve widened your worldview. By exploring academics that are far from home, so to speak, when you return to your own program, you are better equipped to proceed with your education.
Couple this with the abilities of the IS Cluster and the CME to allow exploration of interests beyond majors and minors, and you’ll see why the Uncommon Core offers such value to every student at Nazareth College.