College approves new curriculum

The Connections Program: A Student Journey

0 Slides
Hypothetical student Sarah

Sarah Rice

Sarah is a hypothetical student from Massachusetts. She took Spanish in high school, and she is interested in economics and the environment, but not exactly sure what she wants to study in college. The following is what her educational experience might look like with Connecticut College's new Connections curriculum.

Professor Chad Jones works with students in the Arboretum

Choose first-year seminar

Over the summer, Sarah chooses "Sustainability in the 21st Century" for her first-year seminar, because it combines her interests in the environment and economics.

A team of advisers

Meet advisers

Once on campus, her advising team encourages her to take courses in a variety of subjects, so she selects economics, art and Spanish (she tests into Hispanic Studies 103, "Intermediate Spanish").

Students in class


With her advising team, Sarah considers the available ConnCourses and finds one that connects with issues she learned in her first-year seminar: "Competing for Natural Resources: Global Capitalism & Indigenous Religious Practices." She also really liked her economics course and is considering an economics major; therefore, she takes another economics course and statistics.

Farmer's market

Choose pathway

After taking these courses, Sarah is really interested in social justice issues, especially related to indigenous groups. So at the end of her first year, in consultation with her advising team, Sarah decides to further explore this interest, as well as her interest in the environment, by joining the Social Justice and Sustainability Pathway.

Student takes notes

Thematic inquiry

In the Thematic Inquiry course for her Pathway: History 299, "Cases & History of Equality" (which fulfills the Social & Historical Analysis mode of inquiry), Sarah explores theories and concepts of social justice and sustainability, as well as race and class, and she develops research questions and skills related to this general theme.

Peruvian potato farmers visit campus

Select pathway courses

Sarah examines how indigenous communities in the Andes are impacted by climate change and other environmental injustices and how the lack of political power leaves them vulnerable. She starts developing plans to learn how to work on these specific issues and with indigenous communities in Peru and elsewhere. In developing her plans, she works with a Pathway advising team to select the three additional courses for her Pathway: Environmental Studies 211, "Weather and Climate: Past, Present and Future" (fulfills the Scientific Inquiry and Analysis mode of inquiry); Hispanic Studies 220, "Introduction to Latin American Studies" (fulfills the Critical Interpretation & Analysis mode of inquiry), and Sociology 216, "Sociology in the Age of Climate Change."

Students in classroom

Declare major

At the conclusion of her sophomore year, Sarah declares an economics major and takes additional economics classes. She also takes an additional Spanish class, Hispanic Studies 204, "Environmental Justice in Latin America" (completing her World Languages and Cultures Requirement). She also undertakes a local internship. 

Image from SATA Peru

Study Away Teach Away (SATA)

As a junior, Sarah participates in SATA-Peru with Professor Cruz-Saco from the Department of Economics, taking courses on economic development, Peruvian history and culture, and Spanish. Back on campus, she shares her experiences with other Pathway members.

wind turbines

Courses continuted

Sarah completes the remaining classes for her Pathway and continues working on her major, including a course in environmental economics.

Peruvian landscape

Summer internship

In the summer after junior year, she interns in Peru with the non-governmental organization, which works with local communities to address climate change.

Students in classroom

Senior reflective seminar

In the fall, Sarah takes her Pathway’s senior reflective seminar to reflect on her study away, internship and Pathway coursework and how they relate to each other and to her major.


All-campus symposium

Sarah presents her Pathway project at an all-campus symposium in the fall.

Professor Cruz-Saco teaching

Finishing up

In the spring of her senior year, Sarah completes a capstone for the economics major. She has completed courses in all five modes of inquiry (three in the Pathway, statistics in her major, and art separately).

Students throw their caps at Commencement


Sarah graduates with high honors. She wins a Fulbright fellowship to Peru to continue her research on working with indigenous populations to combat climate change. Following her Fulbright year, she plans to pursue a graduate degree and hopes to work internationally with a non-governmental organization.

May 14, 2015