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Chesterton House

A Center for Christian Studies at Cornell

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions regarding Chesterton House Courses

 

1. Why these classes?

Chesterton House classes are aimed at three major objectives. 

  • First, to create a space for students to study biblical and theological ideas in a context that is both confessional and yet committed to academic rigor and critical reflection;
  • Second, to provide a Christian framework for thinking ethically about academic studies; and
  • Third, to help students develop a uniquely Christian understanding of work, vocation, and calling.

 

2. How much do the classes cost?

Thanks to a grant from the Lilly Endowment and generous support of Chesterton House alumni and friends, we are able to offer these courses to students for significantly less than the actual cost to run them. Although it costs Chesterton House over $500/ credit hour to offer these courses, we are currently offering these courses for just $100/ credit hour!  (Compare this to $425/ credit hour at  Gordon College or $1260 / credit hour at Cornell!) For students receiving financial aid from Cornell, Chesterton House courses are available for an administrative fee of $50.  

 

3. Can I get Cornell credit for taking a class?

It depends. Cornell’s seven colleges have varying policies and procedures regarding acceptance of transfer credit.

  • A&P: No determination yet
  • Arts & Sciences:  Will not accept credit
  • CALS: Credits will transfer as general elective credit.  CALS registrar has indicated that courses carrying a minimum of 3 credits may also count toward the liberal studies requirement.
  • Engineering: Engineering does not allow transfer of credits for coursework from another institution completed during a semester a student is concurrently enrolled at Cornell.  Otherwise, credits (e.g. summer or winter courses) will transfer as general elective credit.
  • Hotel: No determination yet
  • HumEc: No determination yet
  • ILR: ILR requires the identification of a substantially similar course at Cornell in order to transfer credit.

**Please note that grades matter: Typically a student must receive a grade of C or better to receive transfer credit.

Students interested in transferring course credits to Cornell should consult their college advising office in advance of enrollment, to determine whether they will be able to apply transfer credits to their Cornell record.

 

4. Who teaches these classes?

Most courses are taught by Gordon College faculty associated with Chesterton House.

5. Can I miss a class?

Our policy on absences and late arrivals is spelled out in the syllabi.  Generally speaking, a late or absence typically results in a deduction from the final grade.  Missing more than two classes for reasons other than medical and family emergencies usually results in withdrawal from the course.

 

6. Why did Chesterton House partner with Gordon College? 

Chesterton House sought to partner with an educational institution committed to excellence in education with an informed Christian faith, dedicated to research and pursuing the common good in every area of human life, and open to thinking creatively and working collaboratively with a Christian ministry located at a private, secular campus.  Gordon was a perfect match for all of these criteria.  For more information about Gordon College and their summer course offerings, see www.gordon.edu

 

7. When and where are the classes offered?

Classes for the first 12 to 18 months will be in 314 Anabel Taylor Hall, beginning at 7:30pm and running on Monday or Wednesday evenings (see course pages for specific details).  We are also making plans to offer courses in the January term beginning in 2016 or 2017.

 

8. Can I audit the course?

Yes and no.  Our courses are designed to facilitate learning in community.  As such, each class session is structured around discussions and small group work that engages in close readings of the assigned texts.  When students do not complete all the readings or do not attend all of the sessions, the whole class suffers as a result.  Also, when we offered the option to audit in our first semester and we noticed significant gaps in learning between students who audited and those who did not.

Beginning in the spring of 2015 we will experiment with an option to audit the course for a pass/fail grade.  Auditing students will have to attend a minimum of 75% of the classes and submit at least 75% of the written assignments.  

 

9. Why don’t you ever offer overviews of the Old and New Testaments?  Will you offer these in the future?

In our early years, we only have one teaching scholar on staff and so our offerings will be limited.  We reevaluate our courses and curriculum on an annual basis.

Furthermore, our current offerings are designed with very specific goals that are not suited to the overview format.  These designs are founded upon our belief that the modern technological age and the increasing breadth of the academic curriculum are encouraging speed and volume of material over against close reading and critical thinking.  Fewer and fewer Christians are able to read biblical passages with the breadth of skills and practice required to understand and interpret its very many different genres.  Each of our assignments is thus designed to counter these trends in learning and Christian reading of the Bible and produce a new generation of skilled readers and thinkers.

That said, our Proverbs course includes material that helps students to understand how the books of poetry and wisdom relate to the law and prophets and the overall message of the Old Testament.  Our course on Mark’s gospel also includes a reading on the formation of the New Testament canon and seeks at many points to relate Mark’s message to the other gospels and the related passages in the Old and New Testaments.

 

10. What are students saying about these classes?

“It was awesome to see faith in action in a university classroom, especially at Cornell. After years of classes that lead me astray, this was the first in which I was welcome to grow spiritually, and specifically as a Christian.”

“This class helped me see that I don't have to be afraid of losing my faith in an academic setting. On the contrary, my beliefs as a Christian can and do drive my intellectual inquiry. THANK YOU!”

“I came to understand that Christianity is incredibly huge, it's the explanation of the foundation of the world, it's how to interact with people everyday, how to think, everything you can imagine.”

“Through his very interactive teaching style, Professor O'Dowd made distant, not-so-obvious material come to life.”