Program of Study
Truth is by nature one, universal, and indivisible, because truth is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Logos, the one Word of God through Whose light knowledge is possible (John 1:3-4). Because truth is the Word, a united whole, it is essential that the curriculum of New College Franklin reflect this unity. Every fact, idea, symbol, or sign exists in relationship to universal truth. Therefore, every part of the curriculum is interrelated and should help the student seek, know, and experience truth. While there are distinctions and aspects of the curriculum as varied as Greek grammar and Euclidean propositions, every part serves universal truth.
New College Franklin offers one degree. With the exception of preceptorials, all students take the same courses. Our goals encompass our students’ vocations and individual callings, but our primary goals are wisdom and discipleship for all of life. Hence, all the following disciplines are core curricula, and we believe that this core prepares each student to seek his or her individual calling. Once the strong foundation of a liberal arts education is laid, students are prepared to pursue their callings in light of the questions and ideals common to all humanity. Additionally, we encourage students to shape projects, papers, and the Practicum course to coincide with their vocational callings and interests.
Moral Philosophy is at the heart of the curriculum because it embodies a key aspect of New College Franklin’s philosophy of knowledge. Knowledge is cumulative and poetic; we study all things for the sake of knowing God, and all things gain meaning and purpose within God’s sovereign plan over all. God’s world involves many parts that are best seen in light of the connections, relationships, and harmonies in God’s united, sovereign plan. The pursuit of Moral Philosophy demonstrates the decrees of God as executed in the progression of ideas and literature through major epochs of history. In each year of Moral philosophy, the four terms are organized around four themes: Anthropology and Psychology, Ethics, Politics, and Transcendence. These four themes provide overarching structure in our pursuit of wisdom for the purpose of right action.
MORAL PHILOSOPHY I: ANTITHESIS & WORLDVIEW
Moral Philosophy I: Antithesis & Worldview surveys the history and development of western philosophy and examines the nature of God’s overarching redemptive narrative of history. This course examines the developments in western philosophical thought in the ancient world, the medieval world, and the world of the Renaissance and Reformation. Modern philosophic thought is reserved for a more careful examination in Moral Philosophy IV. This course also examines the nature, practice, and philosophy of history beginning in the ancient world and ending in the twentieth century.
MORAL PHILOSOPHY II: ANTIQUITY
Moral Philosophy: Antiquity examines the history, literature, and philosophy of the ancient world, spanning creation to St. Augustine and Boethius in the 5th century.
MORAL PHILOSOPHY III: MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE WORLD
Moral Philosophy: Medieval and Renaissance World focuses on the transition from the pagan world to the establishment and growth of Christendom in the medieval world, the Renaissance and Reformation, and the emergence of Enlightenment thought.
MORAL PHILOSOPHY IV: MODERNITY
Moral Philosophy: Modernity explores the Renaissance, the revolutionary world, and the modern world, examining the development of the modern mind and culture.
New College Franklin is a Christian school working under the Lordship of Christ, practically applying the Word of God to all areas of life and learning with theological integrity by using Scripture as the ultimate authority in the education process. We distinguish theology from religion in that theology is the study of God as revealed in the created order, his works of providence, and Holy Scripture. Religion is the study of human behavior regarding belief systems and cultural systems relating to spirituality and moral behavior. At New College Franklin, religion, as an anthropological study, is examined primarily in the Moral Philosophy courses, while our courses in Theological Studies are theology proper. Biblical languages are included in Theological Studies. An important part of the study of God is access to His word and the appropriate application for wisdom and mission, which often involves an appeal to the original languages of the Scriptures. Learning such languages also cultivates thought patterns, highlights linguistic nuances, and brings students to a deeper understanding of language in general. This is especially important since Christ is the Word, and we are people of the Word and words. We study language because it is at the center of our thoughts, speech, writing, and worship.
First year students are presented with a study of theology that emphasizes historic Reformed theology and systematics. This course introduces students to the primary doctrines of the Christian faith as summarized in the Nicene Creed: prolegomena (foundations), theology proper (the study of God), Christology (the study of Christ), pneumatology (study of the Holy Spirit), and ecclesiology (the study of the Church).
Koine Greek is an inductive and deductive introduction to the phonology, morphology and syntax of Biblical Greek. Students will gain a foundation of Biblical Greek that will lead to competent reading knowledge of the Koine New Testament.
KOINE GREEK READINGS
Koine Greek Readings is a study of Greek grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, training students to achieve intermediate proficiency in translating and reading Koine Greek.
Fourth year students follow their study of systematic theology and Greek with a study of Biblical theology, focusing on hermeneutics and exegesis. This is a natural progression from their previous Biblical studies and an application of wisdom to the faithful interpretation of Scripture.
The Trivium is comprised of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. Training and proficiency in these arts develop academic expertise and equip students to engage in the process of academic discovery for the glory of God. These arts of language are manifested in a variety of disciplines but all are centered on the Godly use of language. Christ admonishes us to disciple the nations by teaching them to observe all that He had commanded them. This command illustrates the deep and complex relationship between word and deed, and requires his disciples to think critically and creatively, communicate clearly, and act with integrity.
Composition trains students in the elements of composition and approaches composition as a rational and valuable activity. Students receive training in the writing process, the essay, the expository paragraph, the sentence, diction, description and narration, and punctuation.
The Logic course grounds students in the foundations of traditional classical logic, developing a Christian approach to logic, then moves on to propositional logic and explores the role of logic in philosophy. Logic provides a practical foundation for the study of the humanities and philosophy as well as the arts of the quadrivium.
In its essence, Poetics is applied knowledge and understanding, or wisdom. Wisdom crosses disciplines and makes connections between seemingly disparate subjects, such as rhetoric, mathematics, astronomy, music, architecture, theology, and philosophy. Poetics seeks to encourage poetic Biblical thinking that considers the beauty of presentation as part of the content. Poetic knowledge is not pragmatic, isolated, or manipulative, but rather beautiful in its application, true in its comprehensive nature, and good in its ethical character and purpose. Biblical wisdom and poetic knowledge imply a sensual, physical understanding that goes beyond mere mental assent.
The Quadrivium courses in classical Christian mathematics are founded on the belief that God reveals Himself and His decrees through the beauty, order, and design of His creation. A proper understanding of this revelation brings joy to human beings and glory to God, and provides a valuable tool in taking godly dominion over the created order. We can know God by knowing the mathematical language of creation. This language is an art, not solely a pragmatic tool or utilitarian endeavor. In this sense, the study of mathematics is a poetic stretching of the mind, practicing precise and valid thinking with complex ideas and conceptual abstractions. This artistic and mathematical process of thinking is governed by God’s laws, with His created reality guiding and tuning our logic. The incarnational study of mathematics is a way of knowing God through His works, which display His beauty, order, and design. Furthermore, this study spurs us to obey God in exercising Godly stewardship of the natural world.
Arithmetic concentrates on the theory and nature of number. Students explore arithmetic in an historical and developmental context, re-interpreting theories about numbers where necessary in accord with the Biblical Christian world and life view. Through discussions on the theory and nature of numbers, students will engage topics of creation in a principled and methodical way, growing in the knowledge and wisdom of the Lord, for “all things were made through Him.”
The second-year course turns to a study of measurement of the earth, concentrating on the nature of measurement and spatial relationships. Students examine the historical development of geometric thought and practice; Euclidean plane geometry; the geometrical archetypes and patterns present in creation, art, and architecture; and modern developments in geometry, especially the development of non-Euclidean geometry.
Harmonia, the third-year Quadrivium course, examines the art of number in time and proportion. Harmonia has a long history—from the Greeks (especially Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle), to the early Church Fathers (including Augustine), through the medieval period (with Ptolemy, Boethius and Kepler). The study of harmonia includes the origins of notes, their relationships to one another, how we hear, and a natural understanding of why and how music works the way it does.
Cosmology is the culmination of the Quadrivium, in which students seek an understanding and application of logic, precision, beauty and experiment in the science of astronomy. Historical readings such as Ptolemy, Kepler, Galileo and Newton provide logical demonstrations of scientific systems, revealing how great thinkers envision the universe within an acceptable logical structure. Cosmology concludes with a few examples of likely orderings of God’s creation through quantum mechanics and relativity.
In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he exhorts us to “aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands… that you make walk properly before outsiders.” We believe that the applied arts can be just as formative of the mind, body, and spirit as the academic arts. Applied studies seek to articulate the complex relationship between faith, learning, and practice.
The Music course is structured upon basic knowledge of the fundamentals of music, with the goal that students are able to discuss and identify melody, harmony, rhythm, tone color and musical structure. The course follows a basic historical outline, with elements of music theory, sight-singing, and aesthetics woven throughout. The first term concentrates on music in the Ancient and Medieval eras, with selected readings from the Greeks, Church Fathers, and medieval philosophers and theologians.
The Art course is both seminar and practicum. It accompanies the Geometry course and introduces students to the classical elements of design, drawing, architecture, and sculpture, culminating in a final project.
Third- and fourth-year students may select from a variety of one-term or multi-term courses that complement the core curriculum by allowing students to focus on a particular author, topic, or philosophical question. Examples include: Southern Literature, The Art of Film, Architectural Thinking, Twentieth Century Literature, etc. These courses recognize and seek to illustrate the connecting elements that unite all truth, while respecting and exploring the diversity of application.
The Practicum Course is the culminating experience of New College Franklin. Each student has the opportunity to apply and demonstrate the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom gained in the program of studies at New College Franklin. The student begins this course by designing and submitting a proposal for his or her practicum project. A student may write a thesis, complete an applied project, or do an internship.