CRITICAL REASONING AND
ANALYTICAL SKILLS (CRAAS) COURSES
Coordinator, Lecturer KAREN L. SHEPARD
To one degree or another, every class at Williams goes beyond its subject-be it mathematics, Machiavelli, or modernism-to teach intellectual skills that have wide application in other fields as well as outside of the academy: scientific reckoning, expository writing, rhetorical analysis, oral presentation, and so on.
Courses offered under the CRAAS initiative foreground such analytical skills. While each CRAAS class covers a different topic, all are aimed particularly at developing the processes necessary for excellence in a range of fields: techniques for analyzing ideas, data, texts or artworks; approaches to interpreting, synthesizing, and developing arguments; strategies for presenting ideas and results.
CRAAS classes typically emphasize the practices of meta-analysis-self-criticism, editing, and revision-with the goal of constant improvement. Many classes feature peer tutoring, small group work, and intensive one-on-one engagement with the professor. Students should leave a CRAAS course with a substantially heightened ability to approach problems, analyze texts, and craft arguments in whatever discipline they may go on to explore.
A few CRAAS courses are restricted to advanced students, but the majority are open to all, and some are specifically targeted for first year students. Most have strictly limited enrollment. Because these classes cultivate the general strategies of effective scholarship, students are encouraged to consider taking a CRAAS course early in their academic careers.
CRAAS courses offered in 2006-2007:
ARTS 319(F) Junior Seminar: Methods of Contemporary Art Practice
ENGL 123(F) Borrowing and Stealing: Originality in Literature and Culture (W)
ENGL 145(S) Reading and Writing Science Fiction (W)
ENGL 346(F) The Human Face in the Modern Imagination (Same as ArtH 307, Comparative Literature 356, and INTR 346) (W)
MATH 101(F) Mathematical Analysis with Descriptive Statistics
PSCI 254(F) Democracy in Comparative Perspective
PSCI 325(F) Culture and Identity in World Politics (W)
PSYC 322(F) Concepts: Mind, Brain, and Culture
PSYC 355(F) Psychotherapy: Theory and Research (W)