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Columbia College Chicago
Topic Studies and Rationales
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Topic Studies and Rationales

Students in the First-Year Seminar practice the Learning Goals of the course by studying several topics with a variety of texts, then generating their own Topic Studies and accompanying Rationales.

Topic Studies

Students respond to their investigation and discussion of each topic through a Topic Study, an artifact created in any medium that demonstrates their engagement with the topic and with the learning goals of the course. Topic Studies include expository essays; short films; sculpture and painting; photographs; music; and so on.

Some Topic Studies are created individually, while others are produced through collaboration. What unites all successful Topic Studies is a commitment to continuing the conversation about the subject at hand. Topic Studies typically do not attempt to "answer the question" so much as provoke new ones.

A reasoned exposition of principles; an explanation or statement of reasons; (also) an (attempted) justification for something; the fundamental underlying reason for or rational basis of a thing
Oxford English Dictionary

Students' Rationales—which accompany each Topic Study—offer thoughtful, elegant, and analytical statements about their Topic Studies. By narrating and describing the processes of questioning, exploring, communicating, and evaluating that led to the production of the Topic Study, the Rationale gives students the opportunity to create the best possible audience for their work.