Montserrat is an innovative first-year program that provides students with a dynamic introduction to the liberal arts. By linking a first-year seminar to an interdisciplinary cluster and residence hall, Montserrat invites students into a lively intellectual and social community that encourages engagement with a broad range of themes and issues, and that fuels an enduring quest for intellectual, personal and spiritual growth.
Learning, Living, Making Connections
From their very first days on campus, Montserrat challenges students to expand their idea of where and how learning happens by intentionally blurring the boundary between classroom, residence hall and co-curricular activities. The program’s design pushes students to make connections between parts of their lives that are sometimes seen as separate: learning, living, and doing.
All first-year students enroll in a year-long Montserrat seminar that explores a specific topic while helping students develop broad foundational skills, including critical thinking, strong writing and effective communication. In a small class setting, students engage with and reflect on complex issues, research and debate open-ended questions, and work closely with classmates on creative projects. Over the year, seminar students learn much about themselves, find lifelong friends in their peers and cultivate valued mentors in their teachers.
Montserrat seminars are organized within one of six clusters grouped by interdisciplinary theme (Contemporary Challenges, Core Human Questions, Divine, Global Society, Natural World, and Self). Throughout the year, the faculty members in each cluster, who are drawn from all departments at the College, bring students together across seminars by reading common texts and through cluster-wide events and activities that connect to questions raised in the classroom. These enriching experiences might include visiting a museum, attending a musical or theatrical performance, participating in a mindfulness workshop, hiking a mountain, listening to poetry readings at a dorm coffee house, eating a Slow Food meal together or compiling an inventory of plant species in a local park. Cluster librarians, class chaplains and Student Life staff members support and contribute to cluster activities to provide students with an integrated formational experience.
The Residence Hall
Students within each cluster live in the same residence hall, immersing them in the spirit of community and intellectual exchange that Montserrat inspires and Holy Cross values. Big ideas addressed in the classroom or at cluster events serve as springboards for conversations that continue over dinner or during a late-night study break — which in turn give rise to enduring friendships.
In 1522, St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, chose the Spanish mountain of Montserrat as the place to lay down his soldier's weapons and begin a new life devoted to study, teaching, service, faith and purpose. Just as St. Ignatius climbed the mountain it is named for the Montserrat program gives you the chance to climb your own mountain in a journey of academic exploration and self-discovery.
First-year students in Professor Megan Ross’ Montserrat class, Hip-Hop & the Community, immersed themselves in Worcester’s hip-hop culture in fall 2020, drawing the attention of the Boston Globe.