Liberal Arts Core Course Descriptions

Ashesi's core curriculum consists of an interdisciplinary liberal arts program that includes courses in the humanities and social sciences, as well as mathematics and preparatory business and computer science courses. The core curriculum is supplemented by a set of courses in African Studies, which help develop students' understanding of Africa's past, present and possible future trajectory.


Text and Meaning

Text and Meaning takes a fresh approach to the study of literary and critical theory, integrating critical thinking into activities to increase students’ very ability to learn and question. It is designed to teach students critical thinking skills, how to pose questions, propose hypotheses, gather and analyze data, and make arguments. In order to accomplish this, the term ‘text’ is used in its broadest possible sense, and includes literature, newspapers, magazines, speeches, advertising, websites, blogs, film, music and documentaries.

Put simply, Text and Meaning encourages students to do their own intellectual fishing, instead of waiting to be served.

 

Quantitative Methods

Computers are collecting more and more information about us daily. How can we collect, organize, and distill the deluge of data around to answer important questions?
In this class, we will use Excel functions, experiment with the iNZight statistical package built on top of the R programming language, as well as do some R coding to demonstrate big data techniques. Topics include Bayesian Classifiers, K-nearest neighbors classifiers, multiple regression, Network problems using Gephi and R, and forecasting using Holt-Winters smoothing.

 

Written and Oral Communication 

Written and Oral Communication provides an introduction to the practices of reading and writing for general university studies. Students will develop  academic writing and analytical skills through critical reading, group discussion and varied writing assignments. Strong emphasis will be placed on revising, with weekly workshops to clarify assignments and expectations and/or receive recommendations and feedback on works in progress.

 

Research Methods

The course is designed to provide the student with broad fundamentals of research methods. To this end, students will be introduced to quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods approaches for conducting research. Students will be guided through the various stages of conducting research; i.e. writing research proposals, where they will identify problems to study; collecting information by conducting appropriate literature review; collecting appropriate primary and/or secondary data; analyzis, lectures, in-class assignments, critiquing published articles, homework assignments and quizzes. At the end of the course, students will be required to present written proposals suitable for a mixed-method approach and write an end-of-semester examination. The course is hands-on, using R as the main software.

 

Statistics with Probability

Do you ever speculate about social change and why groups of people behave the way they do? Do you sometimes wonder about the different life choices individuals make? Why are some people healthier, better in school, or more athletic than others? Are you interested in understanding the physical or natural worlds or how climate change is impacting the area in which you grew up? The discipline of statistics is about how we turn data into useful information that can help answer the questions that pique our interest. In this course, learning statistics will be motivated by using real data to answer questions that you come up with and by applying a quantitative research process: (1) generating a testable hypothesis; (2) understanding large datasets; (3) formatting and managing data; (4) conducting descriptive and inferential statistical analysis; and (5) communicating the results to expert and novice audiences.

 

Social Theory

This course will deal with the fundamental question, "What is the good society?" It will cover fundamental philosophical and theoretical approaches to human societies, mixing together readings of key theoreticians with lectures and commentary upon these theories. The course will draw upon theological, philosophical, political and popular ideas, mixing together historical, philosophical, literary and ethnographic approaches to these philosophies. A sample of possible theorists might include Buddha, Plato, St. Augustine, Muhammad, Ibn Khaldun, Rousseau, Locke, Hobbes, JS Mill, Marx, Rawls, Fanon, Foucault, Houtoundji, Mbiti, Mudimbe, and Appiah. The course will also include examples drawn from everyday life and local Ghanaian philosophical systems.

 

Pre-Calculus and Problem Solving 

One definition of mathematics is the science of patterns. Patterns are all around us and the human brain is wired to recognize them! Precalculus uses the formal concept of functions to identify and describe patterns found in data, patterns expressed as a formula, and patterns identified visually in a graph. The emphasis of the course is on developing a conceptual understanding of the definition of a function, the characteristics of important function families, connections to real life, and how the study of functions facilitates the understanding of calculus. A problem solving heuristic and specific problem solving strategies, such as drawing diagrams, systematic lists, looking for patterns, matrix logic, unit analysis, estimation, and others, further develop students’ skills in quantitative reasoning

 

Calculus

This course emphasizes conceptual understanding of differential calculus concepts and its application to real life problems, especially in business, economics and engineering.

 

Principles of Microeconomics

This course will cover the principles of microeconomic analysis with the aim of helping students make better business decisions in their professional careers. In addition to introducing the standard basis of economic theory such as perfect information, production theory, perfect competition and monopoly, the course will focus on helping students think strategically about achieving competitive advantage through the management of the firm’s resources. We will develop microeconomic tools for both simple and complex business environments involving strategic interactions. Through this course, students will develop an understanding of basic microeconomic theory and improve their ability to make sound business decisions.

  

Macroeconomics

This course is an introduction to macroeconomics, with a strong emphasis on international applications. The course has two objectives. First, it will develop simple models of goods and services, assets, capital and labor markets which can be usefully applied to generate realistic predictions regarding the behavior of such macroeconomic variables as: output; employment; inflation; the current account; and interest and exchange rates. Second, the course will teach students to use these models to understand and interpret current and historical macroeconomic developments.

 

Introduction to Finance

Modern financial economics applies economic tools to the analysis of financial problems. This course will introduce students to such analytical tools by covering basic financial theory and concepts. Topics will include the calculation of net present values, basic asset pricing, evaluation of risk and return, capital budgeting, and financial derivatives. Whenever appropriate, the course will take the view of corporate financial managers who interact with efficient capital markets. This course is designed to introduce students to financial theory and concepts and to provide them with an overview of the issues addressed by financial economists, and the techniques necessary to analyze financial investment decisions.

 

Leadership Seminar

The Leadership Seminar Series is a series of interdisciplinary seminars designed to promote self-awareness among Ashesi's students and to expose them to the ideas of great historical thinkers and contemporary leaders. Students will be asked to think broadly and to explore how the might use the examples set by other leaders to achieve their goals in their future professional lives. The leadership seminar series draws upon experts in different fields of corporate, social and academic life. Students must complete the full series in order to graduate from Ashesi University. The entire series is worth 2 credit units (0.5 units for each of four seminars). The series consists of the following seminars:

  • Leadership Seminar I: What Makes a Good Leader?
  • Leadership Seminar II: Rights, Ethics and the Rule of Law
  • Leadership Seminar III: The Economic Organization of a Good Society
  • Leadership Seminar IV: Leadership as Service (Service Learning Seminar)

 

Programming I: Fundamental Ideas in Computer Science

This course will cover the basics of information technology literacy, including hands-on use of microcomputer applications, principles of digital computers and information technology and an introduction to problem-solving through programming. The algorithmic concepts will be illustrated in Visual Basic and will include the concepts of elementary data types and variables; arithmetic expressions and assignments; program control flow; and using prewritten functions.

The goal of this course is to introduce students to common desktop and database applications and to elements of basic programming and of problem solving using the computer.