Curriculum

Our faculty has designed an innovative liberal arts curriculum that builds on Sweet Briar’s unique strengths in the sciences, arts and humanities. At its heart: a bold focus on women’s leadership in the 21st century.

The Leadership Core

The first innovation is a revised core curriculum that takes the place of general education requirements. The 10 courses that make up the core are:

  • CORE 110 Design Thinking
  • CORE 120 Argument and Persuasion
  • CORE 130 Women and Gender in the World
  • CORE 140 Sustainable Systems
  • CORE 150 Expression and the Arts
  • CORE 160 STEM in Society
  • CORE 170 Decisions in a Data-driven World
  • CORE 210 Contemporary Questions in Ethics and Human Difference
  • CORE 220 Leadership Realized I
  • CORE 310 Leadership Realized II

The required courses are designed to be taken throughout three or four years of study so that students have the time to explore what really excites them.

The leadership core will prepare women to be effective leaders for today’s society. The classes are interdisciplinary and will enable Sweet Briar students to develop the skills and habits of the mind that are the hallmarks of liberal arts excellence. These courses will encourage students to ask questions, identify interdisciplinary connections and foster intellectual open-mindedness. Further, the classes will help students establish the habits of lifelong learning, innovation, ethical conduct, problem-solving, collaboration and empathy.

Incoming students will begin their studies with the new core. Current Sweet Briar students can finish their degree in general education or they may choose to shift to the new leadership core.

As part of our innovative look at Sweet Briar’s curriculum, we’ve also streamlined our majors. You can learn more about the leadership core and our programs of study here.

Throughout the spring, our faculty will develop detailed course descriptions for these core courses, as well as for other new classes that will be taught at Sweet Briar.

Centers of Excellence

Beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year, three “centers of excellence” will take the place of our current academic programs and divisions. Study will be more intense, hands-on, collaborative and interdisciplinary — the building blocks of the career and life skills the liberal arts are known for: critical thinking, written and verbal communication; ethics and awareness; and adaptability. These centers are designed around Sweet Briar’s existing strengths, both its resources and programs of distinction.

  • Engineering, Science and Technology in Society: This center builds on being home to one of only two ABET-accredited engineering programs among women’s colleges in the U.S. Raina Robeva has been appointed director of this center.
  • Human and Environmental Sustainability: This center capitalizes on one of our greatest assets — our campus and its vast nature preserves that serve as a laboratory. Bethany Brinkman and Linda Fink serve as co-directors of this center.
  • Creativity, Design and the Arts: This center takes advantage of the natural synergy with the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, one of the nation’s largest artist colonies, located just across U.S. 29. Carrie Brown leads this center.

You can learn more about the center directors here.

Academic Calendar

Beginning with 2018-2019, Sweet Briar is implementing a 3-12-12-3-week academic calendar that incorporates short terms dedicated to experiential learning opportunities such as research, internships and study abroad. Every undergraduate student will be eligible for up to $2,000 to fund these experiences. Summer courses will be added to allow students opportunities to complete a bachelor’s degree in three years. Additionally, the three-week short terms may be used for intensive courses taught by guest instructors who bring practical lessons from their everyday jobs. Such guests may be policy-makers and legislators, working artists from the VCCA, or accomplished alumnae. These are opportunities for lifelong connections and mentorships.

Academic Calendar