The Catholic University of America


Course Clusters

Construct a coherent and personally meaningful curriculum.

Integrate your education. Make it yours.

Course clusters are blocks of related courses. Clustered courses might pursue similar questions across disciplines, develop a skill set, or explore a theme or time period from different perspectives. Thinking about courses in clusters can help you construct a coherent and personally meaningful curriculum, one well suited to accomplishing your own educational goals. And thinking about courses in clusters can push you to integrate knowledge and skills across disciplines and in different contexts, to pursue questions from different perspectives, and to follow an interest long enough to penetrate its surface.

The clusters listed below are only suggestions and jumping off points. Since there's no official recognition for finishing a cluster, you have the freedom to take only those classes that fit your purposes, to add or swap in courses that complement each other better, and to revise the plan as your interests develop and you discover new lines of inquiry.

 

The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.
 

          –Albert Einstein

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • When you meet with your advisor

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    Think about the courses you've already taken. What questions, ways of thinking, time periods or geographical areas, or skills have been especially interesting to you?

    What skills or secondary concentrations will complement your major, allow you to pursue other interests, or prepare you for life after CUA?

    What courses are best suited to accomplishing these goals?

  • As you're taking courses

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    How do different disciplines approach the same questions and subjects?

    What have you gained from seeing a question or subject more stereoscopically?

    How do context and purpose shape not just what you think, but how you think?

    What can you do better now than you could before?


 

Example Clusters

  • Perspectives on Art

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    PHIL 310
    Philosophy of Art

    Philosophical treatment of a range of art forms that focuses on the nature of creativity, beauty, and representation. Full description.

     

    ART 231
    Introduction to Digital Arts

    Using a variety of software, students interested in the visual arts learn the basic tools and techniques for creating and manipulating images and transforming ideas into artwork, along with overall concepts of scanning and digitizing images. Full description.

    ART 211 or 212
    History of Art

    A survey of Western art from prehistory to the Middle Ages (or from the fifteenth century to the present). Full description.

    TRS 345
    Liturgical Art and Architecture

    An exploration of the theology expressed in Christian liturgical art, architecture and worship space. Full description.

    ITAL 240
    Italy and the Renaissance

    Engage with texts highly representative of the culture of Renaissance, a period in which scholars stressed the importance of the liberty of the human spirit to form new models for the advancement of humankind in the arts, ethics, politics, and science (just to name some fields that thrived during this period).

    ITAL 260
    Dangerous Beauty: Venice and its Treasures

    In this course, we enter the mesmerizing world of the city called La Serenissima (most serene), the most ancient Italian Republic and take delight in the treasures of its `dangerous beauty,' while listening to Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons and admiring Andrea Palladio's magnificent architecture.

    ITAL 220
    The Splendor of Rome in Literature & Film

    During this virtual walk through Rome's (particularly modern) history, students will encounter works revealing the singular allure of the space of the city that is twice a capital.

  • Armchair Detective

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    PSY 302
    Forensic Psychology

    The course describes evaluations of criminal defendants and others involved in the legal system, and expert testimony regarding issues such as competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility, and violence risk assessment. Full description.

    ANTH 204
    Forensic Anthropology

    A course about state-of-the-art forensic sciences employed by archaeologists and biological anthropologists to investigate and interpret human skeletal remains worldwide to uncover causes and circumstances surrounding human death. Full description.

    SOC 205
    Sociology of Crime and Justice

    Exploration of the racial, socioeconomic, and other factors influencing the definition, treatment, and amelioration of criminal behavior.

    SOC 317
    Criminology

    Analysis of theoretical explanations of why people commit crime and the development of laws to control criminal behavior and deviant practices.

  • Sports

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    PSY 243
    Sport Psychology

    An introduction to the psychological principles that relate to sport involvement and performance. Full description.

    MGT 326
    Legal Issues in Sports Management

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    TRS 388
    Religion and Sports

    This class explores the dynamics of 'sport as religion' and investigates how sport can be considered as such. Full description.

  • Ecology and Environment

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    ARPL 231
    Introduction to Sustainability

    This course examines the contemporary architectural endeavor as an ecologically sustainable activity, surveys vernacular and traditional passive technologies and examines current theoretical approaches to sustainability, all as a means to define possible templates for practice.

    BIOL 104
    General Biology

    An introduction to environmental science and ecology with emphasis on the interrelationships of living and nonliving things in ecosystems and how disruptions of these relationships result in environmental problems. Full description.

    ITAL 222
    Literature and the City

    The recent rise of ecocriticism suggests a growing interest in the urban environment and its relationship to literature. Watch as the city ceases to be just a backdrop to literary works and becomes protagonist. From Futurism to Neorealism, from Magic Realism to Postmodernism, sources for this course range from fiction to poetry to the first Italian graphic novel and span over the course of the 20th century to the present day. Full description.

    CHEM 317
    Principles of Environmental Science

    This course covers the basic sciences of the environment, with a particular focus on the concept of sustainability. Full description.

    TRS 385
    Theology and Ecology

    Examines interrelated issues pertaining to religion, ecology, science, and technology. Full description.

  • Greek Foundations

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    CLAS 205 / HIST 205
    History of the Ancient Mediterranean I

    Discusses the history of Greece, Rome, Carthage, and neighboring regions, including Persia, Israel, Egypt, and the Celtic lands. Full description.

    ART 317 / CLAS 317
    Greek Art and Architecture

    Surveys the art, architecture, and archeology of Greece from its Minoan and Mycenaean antecedents through the late Hellenistic era. Full description.

    PHIL 353
    History of Ancient Philosophy

    The beginning of philosophy from the pre-Socratics to Plotinus. Full description.

    ENG 345
    Epic Tradition from Homer to Walcott

    After examining the roots of the epic in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and Virgil's response to them in his Aeneid, the course traces the continuation of this epic tradition through Dante's Divine Comedy, Milton's Paradise Lost, and Walcott's Omeros. Full description.

  • Other Times and Places through Film

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    ITAL 233
    Myth of Childhood in Italian Cinema

    This topic is very frequented by Italian film makers, as the child's point of view is present in many trends and periods of Italian cinema which often utilizes literary texts as its point of departure to develop new perspectives on childhood and Italian society in its transformations. Taught in English. Full description.

    HIST 329B
    The Middle Ages at the Movies

    This course examines how film depicts significant events and people from the Middle Ages. Full description.

    GER 250
    Berlin in Literature and Film

    The course is framed by the two German unifications of 1871 and 1990 and examines literary, artistic, and cinematic representations of Berlin. Taught in English. Full description.

    CLAS 251
    The Ancient World in Cinema

    This course will first clarify the breadth and depth of the character of Orpheus in antiquity before proceeding to explore the cinema's persistent fascination with the mythological character and with "Orphism" (a very broad aesthetic concept). Full description.

  • What (Really) Is?

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    PHYS 101
    20th Century Physics I

    A presentation using relatively little mathematics of basic physics as understood at the beginning of the 20th Century. Full description.

    PHIL 305
    Metaphysics

    Typical topics include the following: the nature of metaphysical inquiry; the basic categories of being; properties common to all beings; the analogy of being; the problem of universals; substance, accident, essence, and existence; God. Full description.

    TRS 280
    The Religious Quest

    This course will introduce students to the basic questions that underlie all religions and the quest for human meaning. Full description.

  • Rock and Other Popular Music

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    MUS 119
    Blues & Rock: Signing, Writing, and Improvising for the Non-Music Major

    This course is geared toward vocalists and instrumentalists at any level who would like to hone their musical knowledge and skills.

    HIST 348A
    American Popular Music

    Through a detailed analysis of popular music history from nineteenth century minstrelsy to the emergence of Tin Pan Alley in the twentieth century to the postwar world of rhythm and blues and the heyday of the counterculture of the 1960s, we will, through the use of lecture materials, books, movies, interviews, and music recordings try to reconstruct the emergence of a new legitimate popular music: Rock `n' Roll. Full description.

    ENG 381
    Poetry and Rock in the Age of Dickey and Dylan

    Movements and concepts considered include Beat, Confessional, Deep Image, Southern Narrative, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, the Rock Opera, the San Francisco Renaissance, Southern Rock, Heavy Metal, and Punk. Full description.

  • The Family

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    HIST 329A
    The Family in European History

    The social and economic pressures that shaped the family will be discussed, as well as debates over the emotional life of the early modern family. Full description.

    SOC 206
    Families and Society

    The structure and functions of families in contemporary America and in other settings.

    TRS 371
    Marriage & Annulments in the Catholic Church

    The development of the Catholic Church's teaching on marriage and the canonical discipline based on that teaching from the New Testament to today. Full description.

    PSY 207
    Early Childhood Development

    This course closely examines the development of children during the first five years of life --from in utero through the infant, toddler, and preschool years. Full description.

  • War, Violence, and Terrorism

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    ENG 290
    Contemporary Literature and War

    The course will examine questions of how artists have represented and memorialized the First and Second World Wars, the Vietnam War, and the War on Terror. Full description.

    POL 437
    Countering Terrorists and Radicals

    This course is designed to introduce students to the various counterradicalization and counterterrorism approaches that have been adopted by European countries (among others, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and Denmark) and the United States after 9/11. Full description.

    PSY 251
    Psychology of Terrorism

    Topics include psychological approaches as applied to terrorist motivations, characteristics of terrorist organizations, preparing for terrorist attacks, counter-terrorism strategies, and emerging threats such as weapons of mass destruction and cyberterrorism. Full description.

    SOC 320
    Terrorism and Counter Terrorism

    This course introduces students to the historical and current terrorist threats at both national and international levels.

    SOC 226
    Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution

    The sociological perspective on the interdisciplinary field of peace studies and conflict resolution, which has emerged in the last twenty years.

    TRS 306
    War and Violence in the Old Testament

    An examination of biblical passages involving war and interpersonal violence. Full description.

  • Irish Studies

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    CELT 201 & 202
    Irish Language and Culture I & II

    Irish Language and Culture I is a course designed for students with no prior experience of the Irish language.

    ENG 208
    Highlights of Irish Literature

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    ENG 360
    Modern Irish Literature

    Authors may include but are not limited to Maria Edgeworth, Wolfe Tone, James Clarence Mangan, W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge, James Joyce, Flann O'Brien, Samuel Beckett and Paul Muldoon. Full description.

    HIST 328A
    From Shakespeare to Sheridan: The Irish in the Theatre, 1600-1775

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    HIST 380
    The Irish in America

    Examines how Irish American definitions of identity, cultural practices and beliefs, and even group boundaries changed over time, and how Irish American experiences varied in different regions of the country. Full description.

    Internship in Irish Parliament

    Students will have the opportunity to participate in an internship with the Irish Parliament for approximately 25 hours per week, and in addition, take three courses in Irish history literature, and society and politics. Full description.

  • Exploring Cities

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    WASH 101
    Washington Past and Present

    Taught via discussions, lectures, and visits to various locations in Washington, the course draws on methods and insights from such fields of study as sociology, literature, social work, economics, art and architectural history, media studies, anthropology, political science, and history.

    SPAN 240
    Madrid through the Arts

    This course is intended to provide an introduction to the rich cultural and artistic history of Spain's capital city, Madrid. The course is taught in English. Full description.

    ITAL 222
    Literature and the City

    The recent rise of ecocriticism suggests a growing interest in the urban environment and its relationship to literature. Watch as the city ceases to be just a backdrop to literary works and becomes protagonist. From Futurism to Neorealism, from Magic Realism to Postmodernism, sources for this course range from fiction to poetry to the first Italian graphic novel and span over the course of the 20th century to the present day. Full description.

    GER 250
    Berlin in Literature and Film

    The course is framed by the two German unifications of 1871 and 1990 and examines literary, artistic, and cinematic representations of Berlin. Taught in English. Full description.

    POL 313
    Urban Government and Politics

    Examines urban institutions and economic, cultural, and political contexts as well as processes for resolving conflict and distributing resources. Full description.

    ANTH 230
    Sacred Cities of the World

    This course examines and compares the sacred symbolism of built environments where sacred and mundane meet and intertwine in the world. Full description.

  • Social Media and Web Development

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    ART 231 & 232
    Introductions to Digital Arts

    Using a variety of software, students interested in the visual arts learn the basic tools and techniques for creating and manipulating images and transforming ideas into artwork, along with overall concepts of scanning and digitizing images. Full description.

    MDIA 302
    Media Rhetoric and Aesthetics

    Builds upon the aesthetic considerations and rhetorical strategies explored in previous core courses, with particular reference to visual communication. Full description.

    CSC 104
    Introduction to Computers

    Intended for liberal arts majors who want an introduction to computing history, computer concepts, hardware, software, and application software such as operating systems, graphics, word processing, databases and spreadsheets. Full description.

    ENG 326
    Workshop: Writing Improvement

    A workshop for students who wish to improve their writing, provides practice in and study of invention, organization, and style. Full description.

    PSY 261
    Psychology and the Media

    The course will explore how media images, and technological advances in general, have impacted our culture, the field of psychology, and the development of mental illness. Full description.

    LSC 322/522
    Digital Content Creation and Management

    The course covers how individuals and organizations create, communicate, use, and manage digital information content for learning, work, and play. Full description.

  • Rhetoric, Argumentation, and Rational Consumers

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    ECON 102
    Microeconomics

    Students will be introduced to the analytical tools of microeconomic analysis used to examine the behavior of consumers and producers, and how they interact in various types of market structures to determine prices and outputs. Full description.

    DR 403
    Public Speaking

    Develops the skills needed for effective communication in public settings. Full description.

    PHIL 301
    Reasoning and Argumentation

    Topics include rhetoric, dialectic, types of definition, informal fallacies, deductive validity, syllogistic logic, and legal reasoning. Full description.

    MDIA 301 / ENG 430
    Media and Rhetoric

    Introduces students to classical persuasion theory; the invention of argument, character, and emotion; the function of arrangement and style; and the relevance of all of these to the study of film, television, advertising, and other forms of mass media. Full description.

    ENG 327
    Argumentative Writing

    A workshop of techniques for writing convincing, logical arguments. Full description.

  • Women and Men

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    ANTH 202
    Sex and Culture in the Modern World

    This course examines sex and gender issues in societies around the world that have been brought into the web of the modern world. Full description.

    PSY 224
    Psychology of Women and Men

    Examines the ways in which psychology has treated sex and gender. Full description.

    SOC 306
    Sociology of Masculinity

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    TRS 302
    Women in the Bible

    This course will examine the biblical women of Genesis, Judges, and Samuel, as well as the New Testament, using close readings of the biblical text as informed by intertestamental writings, early Church interpretations, and rabbinic midrash, as well as contemporary literary and analytic perspectives. Full description.

    TRS 324A
    Women in Christian Tradition

    An examination of the roles of women as well as the ways in which women have been portrayed throughout the Christian tradition, with attention to various geographical regions and across historical eras. Full description.

    HIST 306
    Women and Gender in the Middle Ages

    This course examines the experience of women in Western Europe during the later Middle Ages (ca. 1100-1500) and the contributions that women made to that culture. Full description.