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​​DWC Objectives

The Development of Western Civilization Program will fulfill the following objectives:

  • Require students to demonstrate an integrated understanding of the major streams of development in western civilization with a focus on prevailing values and disputed questions as they evolve from epoch to epoch.
  • Require students to read deeply and critically using primary works from western and world civilization. With respect to the first three semesters, professors are expected to select books that together constitute significant breadth to do justice to the assigned historical period. The selection should reflect the expertise and interests of the professors and to the extent possible embrace works of history, literature, philosophy, and theology.
  • Pay special attention to thinkers and works grounded in the Roman Catholic tradition, while analyzing religion’s role in the development of western and world civilization. This involves considering religious questions with a serious regard that acknowledges not only the Catholic and Dominican character of Providence College, but also the importance of other religious traditions when appropriate.
  • Develop effective communication skills as students participate actively in seminar discussions and write frequently in response to course readings. Multiple out-of- class writing assignments totaling at least 4000 words will be required each semester.
  • Promote analytical and synthetic reasoning as students practice making arguments in written assignments and in seminar discussions: they will learn to select and defend a position on a debatable issue, support their position with appropriate evidence, and address counterarguments.
  • Approach issues from an interdisciplinary perspective through studying, discussing, and writing about the core texts in the context of relevant historical, philosophical, theological, literary, and other issues.
  • Nurture the ability to make and defend aesthetic judgments through discussing and writing about complex works of literature, music, and the visual arts.
  • Introduce the use the library and other research resources fundamental to the practice of scholarship through completion of at least one research-oriented writing or presentation project in the second year of the program.​

Development of Western Civilization

​​​​​​​The Development of Western Civilization Program (DWC) is a four-semester, 16-credit requirement taken in the freshman and sophomore years. Students in the Liberal Arts Honors Program will continue to satisfy the DWC Component with a 20-credit hour program.​

Why Development of Western Civilization?

The DWC Program will serve as the gateway to the new Core Curriculum for Providence College. Through it students will encounter significant works of the Western tradition within their historical and cultural contexts and then have the opportunity to choose among upper-level colloquia which will be dedicated to advanced study of a Western topic, to the intersection of the Humanities with other academic disciplines, or to topics relating the Western tradition to other traditions and cultures. This program balances the need for incoming college students to develop important skills in reading, writing, and critical reflection with a conviction that these skills are best gained through directly encountering great writers, philosophers, theologians, artists, and significant historical events. The enhancement of these skills will be in service of leading students into deeper reflection on their place in the world considered in all its dimensions: historical, philosophical, religious, aesthetic, natural, and political.

This program seeks to build upon the strengths of Providence College’s long- established Development of Western Civilization Program by extending in two further dimensions: (a) a more global outlook, and (b) an opportunity to study the intersections between the great questions of existence raised by humanistic endeavors and other areas of human knowledge. In accordance with the Catholic and Dominican tradition from which Providence College arose and by which it continues to be sustained, the DWC Program will introduce our students to a contemplation of the deep harmony between the truths of faith and the lasting achievements of human reason.

The First Three Semesters

The first three semesters of the Development of Western Civilization Program will consist of a seminar-style encounter with significant texts from western and other world civilizations. These three semesters will be four credits each and arranged chronologically, with the first semester dedicated to works from Antiquity, the second semester dedicated to works from the Medieval and Early Modern period, and the third semester dedicated to works from the Modern period. These classes, which will be team taught, will engage students in contemplation of significant works in their historical and cultural contexts, with special attention, when appropriate, to philosophical and theological concerns. These courses will provide a common foundational experience for all students.

The DWC Colloquium

The fourth semester of the Development of Western Civilization Program will consist of a team-taught, four-credit colloquium. Students will choose from a variety of colloquia according to their interests. Building upon the first three semesters, the advanced colloquium will focus on a specific, contemporary issue in the context of the western tradition. Topics that extend the interdisciplinary approach beyond the humanities, e.g., natural science, social science, education, and business, and those which relate western history and culture to the histories and cultures beyond the West, are welcomed. In this way the colloquia will complete the Development of Western Civilization program by enabling students to sharpen and utilize the knowledge and habits of learning gained in the first three semesters. Although the topics of colloquia will vary greatly in light of the interests and expertise of the participating faculty, each must be approved by the relevant committees as satisfying the learning objectives of the DWC program.


Development of Western Civilization Requirement

Students must complete the DWC requirement in sequential order, with DWC 101 as the introductory foundation course and the DWC 202 Colloquium as the final course in the program.  Students must rectify all ‘Incomplete’ grades for DWC before the start of the following semester, using the “Incomplete Contract” to est​ablish submission dates which will ensure that instructors have sufficient time to complete the evaluations.

Transfer students who enter as second-semester freshmen are required to complete DWC 101, DWC 102, and DWC 202. Transfer students who enter with first-semester sophomore status or higher are required to complete DWC 101 and DWC 202. As DWC 101 currently is only offered in the fall semester, it is recommended that transfer students who begin matriculation in the spring delay enrollment in DWC until the following fall semester.