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INQ Classes: Are They Really Worth It?

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Written by Caisi Calandra

My time at Roanoke College is coming to an end, and I’m finding that, during my last semester, I’m taking a seminar class and my INQ-300 at the same time. Pretty smart planning on my behalf, right? I actually needed to postpone one of my classes last semester — otherwise I wouldn’t have been a full-time student this semester.

And so 300 it was.

I’m glad I waited, though, because I got to take a 300 with one of my favorite professors, Dr. McGlaun. I’d never had her out of a creative writing class, so watching her teach students outside of a purely creative setting is interesting. The topic of our 300 is “civil discourse,” and, judging by the readings we’ve already been assigned, we’re gonna get into some pretty heavy topics.

One of our most important ones at the moment is “empathy.” Even though we’ve thoroughly discussed its definition, and how it pertains to civil discourse, there’s always the question: do we need empathy to have civil discourse? And does civil discourse foster empathy? Most students agreed, but there was, of course, a black sheep or two that disagreed.

Of course, this class has challenged us to think about the necessity of our INQ curriculum. At our professor’s behest, we’ve had to complete brief assignments concerning our own thoughts on what we in particular have learned from our INQ classes (and some classes pertaining to our majors).

One of the most fulfilling INQ classes has actually been my May Term class, Differ-Abilities, with Prof. Bosch. It was the most enlightening INQ class I’ve ever taken, and I wish it was an INQ class that could last a whole semester. It’s a class that really forces students to experience disabilities for themselves — while creating and having an open dialogue with guest speakers who have disabilities themselves.

Some can argue that INQ classes aren’t engaging enough, or difficult enough, but, in the end, these are classes the college deems necessary to graduate. They cultivate strong critical thinking, writing skills, public speaking skills — the list goes on and on. If you’re truly not convinced, take a look at one of your essays from your 110. I guarantee you’ll see a difference.