SAGES, the Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship, represents a bold
new model for undergraduate education at a major research university. SAGES was
developed during a three-year pilot, spearheaded by the College of Arts and Sciences,
that began in September 2002. In the fall of 2005, it will become the general educa-
tion requirement—and thus the common core experience—for all Case undergradu-
ates. Peter Whiting, associate professor of geological sciences, was recently named associ-
ate dean in the College and will become SAGES program director next year. He has served
as co-director of the SAGES pilot with Lee Thompson, associate professor of psychology.
art/sci sat down with Whiting to get his thoughts on SAGES as the university prepares
for its full implementation.
Q: What is SAGES and how does it work?
A: Under SAGES, students take a series of seminars—small, interdisciplinary
classes that emphasize discussion and active inquiry—during their first two years.
The idea is to encourage close interaction between faculty and students, who come
together around a topic of common interest; to help students develop their skills
in critical reading, writing, and oral presentation; and to promote engagement in
the learning process. In their third year, students take a departmental seminar,
usually in their major. And as seniors, they propose and carry out a capstone
project that demonstrates the knowledge and skills they have acquired throughout
their undergraduate years.
Part of what makes SAGES distinctive is its integrated approach. Unlike “freshman
seminar” programs at other universities, the SAGES offerings extend across all four
years of the undergraduate experience. SAGES also represents a new collaboration
between Case and the cultural and scientific institutions of University Circle.
In their First Seminars, students visit
these institutions for special presen-
tations and tours, and even engage
in original research.
Q: What is your role in SAGES?
A: Lee Thompson and I have been