Mathematics and Science Curriculum
The Mathematics and Science Curriculum at Wyoming Catholic College comprises eight courses over all four years of a students' time at the school comprising a total of 24-credit hours.
Mathematical disciplines constituted the entirety of the medieval quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy), for several reasons. Even at its most abstract, mathematics is a knowledge of the real physical world in its quantitative aspect; in the “mixed sciences,” such as music and astronomy, mathematics plays an important formal role, offering real insight into the natures of things. Moreover, the highly logical structure of mathematics and its freedom from the obscurities attendant on material being render it ideal for elementary training in reasoning, while the beauty of mathematics inspires wonder, manifests the beauty and order of the created world, and makes evident the ordering of the human mind to truth. Mathematical knowledge is thus at once an object of contemplation in itself, a direct instrument of scientific knowledge, and an indirect means of seeking to know anything whatsoever. As the Book of Wisdom declares: “Thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight” (Wis 11:21).
For ancient and medieval thinkers, “science” denoted any area of inquiry in which true, certain, and universal knowledge was achieved. Thus the term applied equally to theology, philosophy, and mathematics. The modern sense of the word, in which we use it here, is reserved for an empirically based knowledge of the workings of nature, as discerned through the experimental observation of phenomena. Because of the dominant role played in our world by science in this modern sense and the present neglect of natural philosophy, it is important for students to come to an understanding of the domains proper to each and of their true and intimate relation. We can discern three different levels of scientific inquiry: that of natural history, in which particular data are gathered and provisionally organized; that of natural science, in which hypotheses and theoretical constructs are fashioned in the attempt to correlate these data; and that of natural philosophy, in which the data are subsumed by truly causal explanations of universal validity. The direct experience of the natural world through natural history greatly augments our sense of wonder, so essential for the intellectual life. Natural science (the second level) instills in the mind a sense of the order of the universe, while natural philosophy ultimately leads the mind to the recognition of the First Principle: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps 19:1). While each level has its own methodology, their unification is an important goal of liberal education.
Through the courses in the mathematics and science track at Wyoming Catholic College, students will:
- Become more attentive to the natural world in its detail and complexity.
- Grow in a sense of wonder and love for mathematics and natural science.
- Come to understand what mathematics and science are, what methods and principles are appropriate to them, and how to recognize non-mathematical or non-scientific writing.
- Acquire a habit of thinking about mathematics and science from their first principles.
- Gain a selective acquaintance with some of the most significant historical developments in science and mathematics.
- Come to understand the relationship between mathematics, science, and other disciplines.