The Centers of Distinction Curriculum

Of the 33 3/4 units required for a degree at Roanoke College, 14 3/4 units (which includes two one-quarter unit physical education activities and one-quarter unit of co-curricular learning) are needed to fulfill the Centers of Distinction requirements.


Freshmen begin the Centers of Distinction program at Roanoke College with two one-unit semester-long writing courses. Emphasizing writing as a process and using the workshop method, these courses teach students to develop and refine their rhetoric and writing styles, to improve their critical thinking skills, to practice the construction of sound and persuasive arguments, and to navigate the procedures and methodologies of research. Students are encouraged to use their writing skills purposefully, to express themselves meaningfully, and to explore ideas which interest them.


In the sophomore year, students take a two-semester sequence of one-unit courses designed to foster a better understanding of their own culture and the cultures of others. Students are introduced to significant achievements and developments in Western and some non-Western cultures from an interdisciplinary perspective, including history, literature, and the arts.


In the junior year, students explore some of the major moral and ethical issues of our day. The one-unit course is designed as an opportunity for students to reflect on their own values and beliefs while investigating the choices and philosophical systems of other peoples, both contemporary and past. It is not intended to indoctrinate or merely clarify whatever values the student has presently; rather, it provides an encounter wherein students are strongly encouraged to consider in a serious way values expressed in various traditions of religious, moral and intellectual thought.


The growth and learning achieved in the first three years of college is the prerequisite for admission to Senior Symposium. The Senior Symposia are highly reflective and conceptual explorations conducted by faculty and students together into problems of contemporary and enduring importance. Specific topics are proposed by professors and frequently change, providing fresh opportunities for students and professors to collaborate, as liberally educated men and women, in the discussion of fascinating interdisciplinary questions. In addition to the six one-unit core courses, students take additional courses in foreign languages, mathematical skills, scientific reasoning and physical education throughout their years at Roanoke.


Students are required to complete up to one year of study (two units) of the same foreign language at Roanoke College. Students may be exempted from the requirement by demonstrating competency in a foreign language (see "Competency Standards" described elsewhere in this Catalog).


Students complete three one-unit courses designed to develop mathematical skills and to introduce the scientific method as applied to modern laboratory sciences.

At least one unit must be from among mathematics or statistics. These courses emphasize problem-solving skills and applications of mathematics and statistics in modern society. Students in some majors will take courses specifically designed to address the needs of their majors. The courses MATH 101 and STAT 101 explore ideas appropriate for majors without special requirements. Substitutions may be made for these courses by taking any other one-unit MATH course or STAT course.

At least one unit must be an introductory laboratory course (biology, chemistry or physics). Students obtain a knowledge of the modern theories of the science, the ability to use the language of the science, and an appreciation for experimental techniques.

The third unit may be from computer science, mathematics, statistics, or any introductory laboratory course (biology, chemistry, physics). However, at most one one-unit STAT course will count toward the requirement, and students who take two laboratory courses to fulfill the requirement must take them from different disciplines.


Students complete two one-unit introductory courses in the social sciences chosen from two of the following disciplines: anthropology, economics, geography, political science, psychology, and sociology.


All students are required to complete one unit of Intensive Learning at Roanoke College. This experience is an in-depth study of a well-defined topic or issue that occurs during a period of time when a student is enrolled in one and only one course.


Roanoke College recognizes that important learning takes place both inside and outside the classroom. To reinforce the idea of co-curricular learning, students in their first year at the College participate in community service and become involved in campus activities. Working with their academic advisors students identify learning goals in the areas of (a) intellectual or aesthetic experiences, (b) leadership and citizenship, or (c) personal growth (physical, emotional and spiritual) and plan how to meet those goals. Students reflect on co-curricular learning throughout the semester and write a paper on their experiences at the end of each semester.

The co-curricular requirement is mandatory for one year, graded pass/fail, and earns one-quarter unit of credit that is outside the stipulated 33 academic units required for graduation. Students can complete additional quarter units of co-curricular learning. These would be graded pass/fail and would be listed on the transcript but would not count toward the number of academic units required for graduation.


All Roanoke College students will be required to take Health and Human Performance 160: Fitness for Life (one-quarter unit) to fulfill graduation requirements. In addition, all students will take a course (one quarter unit) in a lifetime sport or activity which is different from the activity taken in Health and Human Performance 160. (All varsity athletes will take Health and Human Performance 160: Fitness for Life, but may receive a Health and Human Performance activity competency for satisfactorily completing one season of a varsity sport). Health and Human Performance 160 cannot be repeated for credit and is a prerequisite for all other HHP activity courses. Once the physical education requirement for graduation has been met, a student may not complete additional Health and Human Performance activity courses for credit.