The Verto Method of Teaching

Learning Outside the Classroom

On a Verto semester, coursework requires students to engage in and outside of the traditional classroom. They build on their academic curiosity by engaging with and observing host communities. Whether on a class field trip (accompanied by the faculty) to local galleries or museums, visiting a local NGO, attending a community panel, participating in service learning, speaking with local business owners, or partaking in a cultural ceremony, the experiential curriculum is carefully designed to complement and expand on course readings and lectures. All active learning experiences are framed and debriefed in conversation with faculty to maximize student learning outcomes.

Project-Based Assignments and Assessments

Students on a Verto semester are regularly asked to apply and critically asses what they have learned. Project-based assignments in Verto courses might involve, for example, independent research projects, first-hand data collection, or the development of a more creative final project such as a podcast, formal presentation, multimedia project, etc. In every class, project-based assignments are designed to allow students the freedom to pursue areas, themes, and topics of interest to them within the framework of the course.

Discussion-Based Seminars

Inside the classroom, Verto students are grouped into cohorts for small, discussion-based seminars. Verto’s face-to-face class time prioritizes discussion and active learning techniques. In addition to group and collective discussions, seminar meetings might include activities such as debates, student presentations, concept and/or mind mapping, or mock trials. This approach is made possible by Verto’s commitment to small class sizes (< 25 students), as well as through access to and relationships built with instructors and program staff in the shared living/learning immersive space.

A Diverse and Inclusive Curriculum

Verto courses are intentionally designed to ensure that students are exposed to diversity of perspectives and experiences. We accomplish this in three primary ways: course content, experiential learning activities, and class discussions. In each of these contexts, the curriculum exposes students to divergent experiences, perspectives, and opinions within the Verto and host communities. They also receive explicit training on diversity, equity, and inclusion, including the importance of developing diverse student communities.

Meeting Students Where They Are

Verto students come from diverse backgrounds. The courses are designed to ensure that students from all backgrounds can succeed and thrive on the Verto program. On the one hand, this means providing the necessary scaffolding and resources for those students that need more support to meet the demands of collegiate academic expectations. On the other hand, Verto also designs course assignments and assessments that allow advanced students to stretch academically and pursue their interests.

Holistic Education

Verto course curriculum goes beyond cultivating academic skills and intellectual knowledge. Our faculty strive to help students build on “non-cognitive” skills like self-awareness, social awareness, and responsible decision-making. Faculty incorporate goal-setting, self-reflection, and meta-cognition as core foundations of every course. They prioritize collaboration, community-building, shared norms, and open and vulnerable dialogue in their classrooms.

Verto Education’s curriculum is developed by experienced faculty using our core pedagogical approach, which we call The Verto Method: a commitment to active, experiential, and community-centered instruction. Students are not passive recipients of information, but engaged scholars who propose solutions to global challenges and thrive at the collegiate level. They engage with their faculty and peers through collaborative dialogue, detailed case studies, and debate.

Course Catalog

Language Arts

Rhetoric and Research I

Course Description:

The purpose of Rhetoric and Research is to prepare you as a writer for college assignments and for the writing demands in your personal, professional, and civic lives. Students will critically read and write in a variety of rhetorical situations and contexts and incorporate college-level research. Specifically, we’ll learn how writing is:

 

(i) a communicative act that always occurs within a particular context and with a particular purpose;

(ii) a process (rather than a one-time act) in which reading, feedback and revision helps us realize the full potential of our written works; and

(iii) a communal act, for we always write to engage with an audience.

 

Students read and discuss a variety of works from different literary genres, focusing on nonfiction and expository texts, reading 30-60 or more pages per week. The course also emphasizes research skills, including evaluating and documenting sources, using MLA style, practicing academic integrity, and job document preparation for employment. Students write several essays in expository and argumentative prose, including at least one research paper, in response to class reading and outside research, for a total of between 6,000-8,000 words.

  • Credits: 3 or 4
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: ENGL

Introduction to Creative Writing

Course Description:

Designed for the student who wants to become a creative writer, this course will provide a foundation for further exploration and practice in poetry, fiction, and/or drama. Through critical analysis of works written by notable writers, elements of literature, and examination of the writers-reader relationship, students will gain the tools to begin crafting their own creative works and to identify their voices as writers.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: ENGL

Public Speaking

Course Description:

This course includes basic principles and practices of public speaking: developing proficiency and self-confidence in speaking. Focus will also include organization, development and communication of ideas, structure, style, and delivery. This course covers theory and techniques of public speaking in democratic society. Discovery, development, and criticism of ideas in public discourse through research, reasoning, organization, composition, presentation, and evaluation of various types of speeches including informative and persuasive speeches. The course also develops critical listening skills through performance and evaluation.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: COMM

Multicultural Communication

Course Description:

Introduction to intercultural communication in domestic and/or global contexts. Influence of cultures, languages, and social patterns on how members of groups relate among themselves and with members of different ethnic and cultural groups. Theory and knowledge of effective communication within and between cultures. Appreciation and comparison of communication of diverse groups within the larger context of American culture.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: ENGL, COMM

Introductory Spanish I

Course Description:

This course blends a focus on communication with grammatical rigor and vocabulary acquisition in a real-world Spanish immersion context. By the end of the semester, students successfully completing the course will be able to converse in Spanish about themselves and common topics daily life, and generalize knowledge and negotiate during conversations to convey meaning. Students will also correspond in written Spanish to convey information about themselves and their day-to-day experiences, and read brief passages highlighting general information on the host country and important topics in the country’s society and cultures.

During class seminars, students will be exposed to Spanish in different communicative situations and will engage with the language in different manners, ranging from simply reacting to input in the form of audio or texts, to negotiating their way through a task. Spanish will be the primary language of instruction and the majority of class time will be spent on task-based, communicative activities where students are expected to use the target language to the best of their abilities.

  • Credits: 4 or 5
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: SPAN

Introductory Spanish II

Course Description:

A continuing course from Spanish I with more emphasis on oral communication, writing and reading, grammatical elements, along with exploration of the cultural aspects of the Spanish-speaking world.

  • Credits: 4
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: SPAN

Intermediate Spanish I

Course Description:

This course offers students practice in speaking, listening, reading, and writing Spanish at the intermediate level, with more advanced grammar, as well as opportunities to explore cultural aspects of the Spanish-speaking world. In addition to refining grammatical concepts introduced in Elementary Spanish I and II, students learn more challenging grammatical structures such as the subjunctive in noun clauses, adjective clauses, and adverbial clauses.

  • Credits: 4
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: SPAN

Arts & Humanities

Introduction to Theatre

Course Description: A survey course designed to foster appreciation for the theatre by students not majoring in drama, and to solidify a foundation for drama majors. Topics include the purpose of theatre, significant milestones in theatre history, basic elements and principles of production, dramatic literature, criticism, and trends in contemporary theatre.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: THEA, DRAM, ENGL

British Literature II

Course Description:  This survey course covers selected works in British literature from the Romantic Period to the present. Emphasis is placed on historical background, cultural context, and literary analysis of selected prose, poetry, and drama. Upon completion, students should be able to interpret, analyze, and respond to literary works in their historical and cultural contexts.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: ENGL

American Literature II

Course Description: This course introduces students to a wide range of American authors and their relationship to major literary and intellectual movements from the second half of the nineteenth century to the present.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: ENGL

Principles of Macroeconomics

Course Description: This introductory course provides a comprehensive overview of the economy as a whole by examining both long-run and short-run macroeconomic issues. Topics include scarcity, market systems, domestic output and national income, economic cycles, unemployment, inflation, and macroeconomic equilibrium. It also includes an examination of international trade, government stabilization policy, money and banking, and financial institutions. Students are exposed to both macroeconomic theory and contemporary macroeconomic issues. Special emphasis is placed on developing economic tools and applying those tools to understanding contemporary issues.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: ECON

International Relations

Course Description: This course is designed to introduce students to the theory and practice of international relations and the competing approaches in understanding and addressing contemporary issues and crises. The course identifies the various state and non-state actors in global politics and describes and explains their behavior as well as the structure of the international system in which they operate. Included is an examination of not only the traditional subjects of international relations, such as power, nationalism, diplomacy, and war, but also those transnational factors that have come to play a critical role in an increasingly interdependent world, such as immigration, trade and economic/financial activities, the environment, human rights, and terrorism.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: POLS, GOVT, IR

American Government and Politics

Course Description: This course provides students an introduction to American government and politics, emphasizing both the practical aspects of governmental operations and the understanding of politics as an ongoing, active process. Arranged topically, the course explores the nature and functions of government, politics, and governmental organization. Civil liberties, civil rights, the role of the media and industry, and public opinion are also covered.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: POLS, GOVT

Introduction to Business

Course Description: Students will be introduced to the world of business through discussions of marketing, accounting, production and operations management, E-Business, information technology, management, entrepreneurship, finance, human resources, business ethics, the law, risk management and insurance and the global marketplace. Various types of business entities will be examined and analyzed in the context of today’s dynamic business environment.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: BUS

Understanding Globalization

Course Description: This course explores the current wave of global political, economic, and social development, and the opportunities and challenges it brings to states, institutions, and individuals. Focus is on the history of globalization, and economic, political, social, cultural and ecological developments related to the process of globalization.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: POLS, GEOG, SOC, GLOBL

Environmental Policy and Decision-Making

Course Description: Environmental policy and subsequent regulation is one way of managing the relationship between human activities and their effects on natural ecosystems. This course is a study of federal, state, and local environmental legislation and its history. We will chronicle America’s awakening to environmental issues and the ways in which decisions affecting the environment occur. The content of the course is vital to environmental policymakers, scientists, and advocates.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: POLS, GOVT, ENVS

Latin American History

Course Description: A historical survey of modern Latin America from the early 19th century to the present. This course will focus on the creation and evolution of independent nation-states and the importance of social revolution in the region. We will make particular reference to Costa Rica as a case study to explore relevant historical and political moments. Special emphasis will be placed on the region’s historical and ongoing relationship to the United States.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: HIST

Western Civilization II

Course Description: This introductory course focuses on the origins and development of civilization in the western world from the 17th century to the present. Topics include European encounters with the new world, the scientific revolution, the age of enlightenment, the development of the state, the French and Industrial Revolutions, their impact on society, the rise of nationalism, the emergence of modern society, imperialism, World War I and II, the Cold War and contemporary Europe.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: HIST

Introduction to Ethics

Course Description: This course is intended to acquaint students with the practical relevance of ethics within everyday life and to aid them in cultivating the skills inherent in ethical reasoning. It is an examination of the basic concepts of morality and values, representative ethical theories and their application to important contemporary moral problems. Topics may include abortion, suicide, euthanasia, gun control, homosexuality, affirmative action, capital punishment, cloning humans and other biotech issues, the war on drugs, terrorism and our responsibilities to the environment.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: PHIL

Introduction to Philosophy

Course Description: This class introduces students to major Western philosophical issues and methodologies. It is a chronological presentation of archetypical philosophers’ thought concerning knowledge, reality and values. Topics include the sources and limits of knowledge, the nature of reality and self, and examination of fundamental beliefs about ethics, religion, science, language, art, society, politics, and the meaning of life.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: PHIL

World Religions: Western Culture

Course Description: Introduction to the monotheistic religious traditions of the West and how they relate to cultural and social life. Includes the history and teaching of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: PHIL, REL, SOC

Art History I

Course Description:An introductory survey of objects, images, and architecture from the ancient world through the Middle Ages. The course emphasizes the importance of religious, social, and political influences on the art of prehistoric, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, early Christian, Byzantine and Medieval European cultures. It also develops and enhances students’ ability to understand works of art in their social and historical contexts.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping:  ART

Art History II

Course Description: A survey of the major visual arts from the Renaissance through the modern world. Course emphasis on understanding of geographically relevant information, art media, techniques, etc., and the development of an historical understanding based on western history as understood through the study of art.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping:  ART

Diversity in American Music

Course Description: Students will learn how music helped various cultures and cultural elements persevere through adversity. Students will examine various types of music from the various cultures of America. The contributions of these cultures to the development of various musical styles will be studied with an emphasis on the oppression of certain cultures and the dominance of others.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping:  MUS

Beginning Digital Photography

Course Description: The exploration of photography as an art form using digital tools and software. Emphasis is balanced between technical skill and the creative process. In-class exercises, out-of-class shooting assignments, and group critiques. A basic digital camera is required.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping:  ART

Beginning Drawing

Course Description:Be introduced to the principles, elements, and practices of drawing, while exploring a wide range of subject matter and drawing media. In this course, you will focus on perceptually based drawing, observational skills, technical abilities, and creative responses to materials and subject matter while living and learning in la culla del Rinascimento (the cradle of the Renaissance).

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping:  ART

Social & Behavioral Sciences

Introduction to Psychology

Course Description: This is a basic course introducing psychology as the scientific study of behavior and mental processes through the exploration of major theories and concepts, methods, and research findings. We will examine traditional areas of psychological investigation from a scientific perspective, including scientific methodology, human development, personality, psychological measurement, psychopathology, psychotherapy, motivation, perception, social influences on behavior, cognitive processes, learning, and biological basis of behavior.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping:  PSY

Global Health

Course Description: This course examines the cultural, political, economic, and geographic contexts of global health. Seminars and readings include investigations of how policy, the pharmaceutical industry, economics, and history shape current challenges and opportunities. Students will critically evaluate the impact of the social determinants of health on individuals’ lives and populations in a variety of cultures and contexts. Through active research, students will explore how the built environment influences health outcomes. We will question how societies come to define illness, and how the identification and treatment of illness occur in a politicized context in which one must take into account gender, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and societal positioning within a global economy.  Using data sets, we will actively identify important health trends and needs around the globe. As we explore these topics, we will learn more about the medical systems of a variety of cultures.  Through experiential activities, students gain dynamic perspectives on how communities define and meet their public health needs.  We will conclude with a thoughtful examination of health as a right.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping:  SOC, ANTH

Cultural Anthropology

Course Description: The study of human behavior from a cross cultural perspective. Emphasis is placed on non Western societies. Areas that may be covered are social organization, belief systems and ritual behavior, socialization, psychological anthropology, economic organization, social stratification, theory, and other selected topics. A goal of the course is to create a greater degree of cross cultural awareness by attempting to promote an understanding of and appreciation for the richness and diversity of human culture.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping:  ANTH, SOC

Introduction to Sociology

Course Description: This course provides an introduction to the basic concepts, theoretical approaches, and methods used in sociology, and how they relate to and impact everyday life. Topics typically include the analysis of social structure, culture, social stratification (including class, race, ethnicity, age, sex, and gender), social change, global dynamics, group behavior, and socialization and the self.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping:  SOC

Cultural Geography

Course Description:  This course offers students an overview of the interrelationships between human societies and the environment, known as the cultural landscape. It examines population distribution and growth, migrations, environmental modifications, and the spatial distribution of phenomena such as language, religion, economic systems, and urbanization.

  • Credits: 3
  • Suggested Designation Mapping:  ANTH, GEOG

Mathematics and Physical & Life Sciences

Calculus I

Course Description: Topics include analytic geometry, limits and continuity of functions, derivatives and applications, anti-derivatives, applications of integration, transcendental functions, techniques of integration, elementary differential equations, improper integrals, sequences and series, power series, Taylor series, parametric equations, and polar coordinates.

  • Credits: 4
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: MATH

Introduction to Statistics

Course Description: A general introduction to random variables, descriptive statistics, sampling theory, estimation theory, tests of hypotheses, regression and correlation.

  • Credits: 3 or 4
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: MATH

Environmental Science

Course Description: This science-based course takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the environmental crisis that confronts us all. Topics include ecological principles, biodiversity, climate change, sustainability, renewable and non-renewable energy, water resources, air and water pollution, and solid waste management. Field studies may include restoration projects, surveys of local ecosystems and flora and fauna populations, and visits to local environmental, agricultural, or scientific facilities.

  • Credits: 4
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: BIO, ENVS, SCI

Astronomy

Course Description: Astronomy introduces physical models for gravity and light and then builds on our understanding of these phenomena to explore the motions, properties and histories of celestial objects ranging from nearby planets and stars to distant galaxies and the Universe itself.

  • Credits: 3 or 4
  • Suggested Designation Mapping: SCI, ASTR

VERTO COURSES BY SEMESTER LOCATION

Semester In London

Courses Offered:

  • Rhetoric and Research I
  • Calculus I 
  • Introduction to Theatre
  • British Literature II 
  • Principles of Macroeconomics 
  • Western Civilization II 
  • International Relations 
  • Introduction to Psychology 
  • Introduction to Business
  • Cultural Geography 

Please note that course credit and availability may vary based on partner college requirements and other factors. All courses and programming are subject to change. Verto students should work with their student success coordinators when selecting classes.

Semester In Italy

Courses Offered:

  • Rhetoric and Research I
  • Astronomy
  • Introduction to Statistics 
  • Art History II
  • Introduction to Philosophy 
  • Multicultural Communication
  • Introduction to Sociology 
  • Understanding Globalization
  • Beginning Drawing

Please note that course credit and availability may vary based on partner college requirements and other factors. All courses and programming are subject to change. Verto students should work with their student success coordinators when selecting classes.

Semester In Spain

Courses Offered:

  • Public Speaking 
  • Rhetoric and Research I 
  • Art History I
  • Art History II 
  • World Religions: Western Cultures 
  • Western Civilizations II
  • International Relations
  • Introductory Spanish I
  • Introductory Spanish II
  • Intermediate Spanish I 

Please note that course credit and availability may vary based on partner college requirements and other factors. All courses and programming are subject to change. Verto students should work with their student success coordinators when selecting classes.

Semester In Costa Rica

Courses Offered:

  • Rhetoric and Research I
  • Environmental Science
  • Introduction to Statistics
  • Introduction to Creative Writing
  • Principles of Macroeconomics
  • International Relations
  • Introduction to Psychology 
  • Introductory Spanish I  
  • Introductory Spanish II  
  • Intermediate Spanish I  
  • Latin American History  
  • Beginning Digital Photography  
  • Cultural Geography 
  • Calculus I

Please note that course credit and availability may vary based on partner college requirements and other factors. All courses and programming are subject to change. Verto students should work with their student success coordinators when selecting classes.

Semester In Hawaii

Courses Offered:

  • Rhetoric and Research I  
  • Environmental Science  
  • Diversity in American Music  
  • American Literature II 
  • Introduction to Sociology  
  • Introduction to Ethics
  • Introduction to Psychology  

Please note that course credit and availability may vary based on partner college requirements and other factors. All courses and programming are subject to change. Verto students should work with their student success coordinators when selecting classes.

Verto Education's Schools of Record

Verto Education partners with Richard Bland College of William and Mary and College of the Siskiyous as the Verto “schools of record.” As the schools of record, these colleges document and award credits for courses taken by students at Verto Education and provide students with an official transcript. Our partnerships with Richard Bland College of William and Mary and College of the Siskiyous allow simplified transfer of credits to receiving institutions.

These colleges are accredited institutions, and they rigorously evaluate and approve the Verto curriculum, faculty, and teaching models.

Verto's Academic Team

Our accomplished faculty and staff work together to develop and deliver rigorous collegiate curriculum and support to Verto students. Throughout the semester, students are encouraged to engage directly with the faculty during office hours and study halls. They’re also supported by Program Leaders who build community and Academic Success Coordinators who ensure students have the academic support to excel in Verto courses and beyond.

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