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Starting with the class of 2020, Barnard students will no longer only have nine ways of knowing things!

Last May, Barnard introduced new general education requirements, and you're the first cohort to follow the new system, Foundations.

It's a confusing system that we're going to break down for you now.


Graphic by Jenna Beers and Tanya Lalwani

Let’s start with the Foundation Courses

First-Year Writing and Seminar courses

Before: We had to take First-Year English and First-Year Seminar. First-Year English involved reading a substantial amount of texts, completing short essays, and writing 1-2 research papers. First-Year Seminar was more discussion-based, with fewer writing and reading assignments than FYE.

Now: You'll take First-Year Writing, a revised course with fewer texts and more demanding writing assignments. First-Year Seminar will remain the same.

You in First-Year Writing next year.

The PE requirement

This requirement has stayed the same. You take one PE class and are encouraged to do so in your first year.

The language requirement

Before: We had to take four long semesters of language. So many grammar charts, so little time.

Now: Your language requirement is cut from four semesters to two courses.

The science requirement

Before: We had to take two lectures and two labs within the same field of science.

Now: You'll take two lectures, which can be in different science departments, and one accompanying lab.

Here's where it gets a little complicated...

There are six Modes of Thinking:

No longer will there be vaguely named requirements like "Ethics and Values," in which students apparently learned the ethics of sleeping through lectures, or "Social Analysis II," in which students presumably learned (a second time) how to socialize (they failed the first time).

When completing these MoT requirements, you need to make sure you take two science courses, two arts or humanities courses, and two social science courses. This 2-2-2 rule is called Distribution Requirements.

Transferring high school credit

Before: We got sweet, sweet exemptions from the Nine Ways with AP credits. Goodbye forever, math.

Now: APs will no longer fill your requirement, but you still can receive credit for them!

Even though there's no more AP exemptions, Foundations won't be too overwhelming. Unlike the Nine Ways, where courses can only count for one way of knowing, you will be able to "double-dip" and count Modes for a major requirement or a Distributional Requirement.

There’s more on STEM and Comp Sci

Before: We only had a quantitative requirement, which didn't necessarily have to be filled by a technology-based course or even a math course.

Now: You have a quantitative and technological requirement. There's now a larger emphasis on STEM and coding. While Physics for Poets isn't going anywhere soon, Barnard is looking to create a stronger Computer Science presence and emphasize women in STEM.

You in coding class next year.

Stay tuned for more information about Barnard and Columbia, and be sure to follow Spectrum on Facebook to stay updated.

If you want to do more research into courses at Barnard and Columbia, head right over to Courses@CU: You'll find class info, professor reviews, syllabi, and even a personal self-auditing course tracker.

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Nine Ways of Knowing Foundations out with the old in with the new
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