Why is participation in Montserrat required for all first-year students?
Montserrat gives every entering student a “jumpstart” on exploring intellectual life at Holy Cross. By participating in small, interdisciplinary seminars at the start of their college careers, students have the chance to interact closely with faculty, staff, and other students to create mentoring relationships that will grow stronger over their four years here. In addition to better integrating academic and social life, Montserrat provides intensive development in critical thinking and communication skills, and ensures that students are engaging with serious intellectual and moral questions early in their time at Holy Cross. These skills and intellectual experiences will enhance every student’s chosen course of study, no matter what their major or career goals.

How do I choose my seminar?
In early June, you will be sent a First-Year Student Guide that will include descriptions of the six clusters and the seminars in each cluster. You begin by reviewing these descriptions. Identify several seminars that sound the most interesting to you, regardless of your academic or career plans. Keep in mind that the clusters and interdisciplinary and attract students with different majors, interests, and goals. You will select your seminar preferences online in June and then receive your seminar assignment in early August. You will receive one of your preferred seminars, but there is no way of ranking your selections.

Is a seminar one yearlong course or two separate, one-semester courses?
Each Montserrat seminar extends over the entire year, but there might be a different emphasis from semester to semester. Some seminars are team taught by professors from different disciplines, alternating semesters and providing contrasting perspectives on a topic. For example, for a seminar in Global Society on environmental sustainability, the fall semester could be devoted to an exploration into energy conservation by a physics professor, while the spring semester, led by a religious studies professor, could focus on issues of stewardship. Many other seminars are taught as a yearlong sequence by a single professor. The seminar descriptions available at registration make clear the format and structure of each course.

Do Montserrat seminars fulfill common area requirements?
Each yearlong Montserrat seminar fulfills one common area requirement. In some cases, the seminar may be approved to fulfill either of two different common area requirements, but for each individual student it will fulfill one or the other, but not both.

What sorts of activities are held in the residence halls, on campus, and off campus?
Out-of-classroom events and activities range from formal, structured programs (like lectures and trips) to informal, spur-of-the-moment conversations in the residence hall. These events are usually planned around the discussions taking place in the seminar, but they may evolve in different ways depending on student interests. Not all activities are academic — they can include everything from a brunch to a hike to a neighborhood clean-up. Because there are ample opportunities to engage in conversation about the issues and ideas raised in the classroom — in person as well as through online postings and chats — students, faculty, and mentors have the flexibility to shape new events and activities every semester.

Why is participation in beyond-the-classroom activities required in Montserrat?
Liberal arts education in the Jesuit tradition is about education the whole person. The beyond-the-classroom activities in Montserrat allow the students and faculty in each cluster to come together a few times per semester to engage in dialogue and exchange ideas. Such activities and events enhance the learning that goes on in each seminar while promoting the integration of living, learning, and doing, which is an essential part of Montserrat.