Inquiry & Identity

Inquiry & Identity – also known as I&I – is a holistic first-year experience course. The course provides a transition into the Monmouth learning community.

Inquiry & Identity is a transition into the Monmouth College learning community which values the spirit of inquiry in pursuit of academic excellence.

I&I sections are taught by faculty from departments across campus, and I&I instructors also serve as academic advisers for first-year students.

Students meet with their I&I class for the first time during fall orientation; upperclass students serve as first-year mentors for students in I&I. 

I&I courses invite first-year students to delve into questions of human values and purposes. These are the central values of the liberal arts. Through them and through our work with common texts, convocations and other activities, we consider the meaning and significance of complex issues. 

Our goals and big ideas

In addition to exploring a liberal arts educational philosophy and supporting students’ transition to college, discussions and activities in this course draw on concepts in the course’s title: Inquiry, which is an active process of engaging fully in the process of learning, and Identity, which is an exploration of the diverse, intersectional and multifaceted qualities of self-hood and belonging.

I&I Learning Goals

  1. Students will explore the themes of Inquiry & Identity as a means to engage with questions of human values, experiences, purposes, and communities and as a means to explore connections among disciplines and among diverse perspectives. Students will learn that a liberal arts education can be transformative, preparing them to pursue fulfilling personal and professional lives.
  2. Students will understand key components for engaging in the intellectual and personal challenges of college and for becoming life-long learners. These components include developing a strong and consistent work ethic, adopting an attitude of inquiry, functioning from a growth-mindset, and approaching all aspects of the transition to college with tenacity and resilience.
  3. Students will consider their identity and discover that their sense of self and their engagement with the community affects their quality of life and the lives of those around them. Students will consider the diverse, intersectional, and multifaceted qualities of identity, which may include, social class, race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, and geographic location.
  4. Students will understand that inquiry is an active process that engages learners’ previous knowledge, requires close attention to reading, and involves analysis and questioning. Students will learn how reading provides a means to connect to conversations that can develop our understanding of ourselves, our world, and is a source not only of learning but also of enjoyment.

Inquiry & Identity uses diverse common readings including:

  • Becoming a Learner by Matthew Sanders
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson