Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence

The Aquinas Scholars Program

Created to promote the habits of mind and foster the skills necessary to pursue the truth in all of its dimensions, the Aquinas Scholars Program enables highly motivated, self- directed students in all disciplines to pursue self-designed projects as part of their college curriculum.

The program provides a unique opportunity for students to pursue their intellectual passions and exercise initiative in the context of a vibrant, supportive learning community.

The Aquinas Scholars Program has proved to be one of the finest programs of which I have ever been a part of. With no scheduled class time or routine meetings the program does not overwhelm me and allows me to complete my work on my own time. Even with no routine meetings however, the program pushes the envelope of my intellectual abilities. The guidelines of the program encourage me to explore academic fields that I have yet to come across, and spark my own personal interests in ways that other courses would not be able to. Being able to choose a particular study of an exceptionally broad topic personalizes each project within the program. This personalization allows each person to actually be interested in what he or she is focusing their course work on. Those who are considering applying should definitely follow through with their cognitions. The program positively pushes your intellectual abilities as well as relieving you of the stress that would come from a traditional three credit course. Most of all, being considered an Aquinas Scholar at the time of your graduation will be an honorable accomplishment. Alicia MacDougall, Class of 2014.

The Aquinas Scholars Program has given a handful of curious, independently-motivated students an opportunity to explore specific questions that puzzle them. Centered around the theme of water, the students I'm working with are coming up with creative topics to investigate, from the role of aqueducts and clean water in Roman civilization to the development of water color painting as an established style in early modern Europe. Rather than being provided with a set of readings and assignments by a professor, Aquinas Scholars have to find readings, set benchmarks, and design their projects in conversation with their peers and advisers. This process of designing a course on their own, and the Aquinas program in general, has allowed students the freedom to craft their own educations in ways that conventional coursework cannot, and the opportunity to work closely with faculty and their peers in investigating the intriguing topics they've chosen. Michael Nordquist, Faculty Mentor and Assistant Professor of History and Political Science