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Columba Cornerstone

A Freshman Seminar Experience

The Core Curriculum provides a common learning experience steeped in the rich tradition of the liberal arts and its foundation is the Columba Cornerstone, Iona College’s freshman seminar. Saint Columba (521-597 CE), an early medieval monk, founded a center of learning, culture and spirituality on the Isle of Iona off the west coast of Scotland. The historic name of the learned Columba invokes the approach to the whole person and the integration of learning in which Iona College seeks to educate its students. Students will develop an appreciation for the interrelatedness among and connections across areas Celtic Cross on Isle of Ionaof inquiry early in their Iona experience. These seminars will be a thematically-based gateway to inquiry and engagement.

The Columba Cornerstone course serves as the foundation for a student’s intellectual engagement as a member of the Iona community. Taken in the first semester, the four-credit, theme-based Cornerstone is linked and integrated with another course to form a learning community where students will examine the designated theme through an interdisciplinary lens. Structured to promote students’ critical thinking, the Cornerstone course emphasizes reading, writing, speaking and collaboration, and explores the many facets of human diversity. All sections within the particular Cornerstone theme share a common text and an overview of critical thinking. To augment classroom-based learning, each Cornerstone integrates experiential and instructional co-curricular modules that serve as unifying elements across all sections of Cornerstone courses. Students are required to engage in a minimum of two co-curricular activities.

The Columba Cornerstone introduces students to time-honored questions in the liberal arts through the themes of Truth, Justice and Earth. Using these particular themes, students will explore questions about the nature of knowing, dive deeply into analyses of identities and probe the many dimensions of human interrelatedness. Grounded firmly in the mission statement of the Core Curriculum, the Columba Cornerstone will introduce students to critical concerns of our time such as diversity and sustainability in a digitally and globally connected world. Motivated by the values and goals of peace, justice and service, the Cornerstone will utilize classic and contemporary texts, co-curricular engagements and a variety of pedagogies to consider new approaches to traditional problems and cutting-edge insights for the 21st century.

All sections of the Columba Cornerstone, regardless of theme (i.e., Truth, Justice, Earth) incorporate instruction on six topics which have been designed to ground students in essential learning that supports the entirety of their Iona experience. These topics include: The Iona Story; Diversity; Information and Digital Literacy; The Learning e-Portfolio; Entrepreneurship and Innovation; and basic Financial Literacy.

The course designation in PeopleSoft is COL 150.

Highlights of the Columba Cornerstone:

  • 4 credits
  • Learning Community Experience
    • Columba Cornerstone sections will be connected with another course to create a learning community experience. A cohort of students will take two courses with each other, forming lasting bonds with each other while experiencing the interplay between professors and disciplines.
  • Common Primary Text
  • Critical Thinking Units
  • Introducing strategies and skills-development for critical writing, speaking, reading and collaboration.
  • Diversity-infusion
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to Themes
  • Co-curricular Experiences
    • Fully integrated into the Columba Cornerstone, co-curricular experiences help to facilitate a strong sense of community, encourage commitment to peace, justice, service and diversity, and help to prepare Iona College students to become global citizens.