Changes to Core Education Group and Multicultural Requirements

The University Senate passed legislation during AY 2017-18 that makes changes to the core (previously “general”) education group (now called “Areas of Inquiry”) and multicultural (now called “Cultural Literacy) requirements.  Existing courses approved in these categories will be grandfathered in until they are resubmitted for review.  Over the next 2 years, all current courses that wish to remain in an Area of Inquiry (previously “Group-satisfying), or be considered for Cultural Literacy (previously “Multicultural”) areas will need to be resubmitted for consideration. For process details, timeline, and supporting materials, see the Core Education Course Approval Process page. A summary of the changes follows.

Methods of Inquiry

The Senate passed the following mission-based learning outcomes to be addressed in the core education curriculum.  The legislation requires that each course that satisfies one of the Areas of Inquiry must also address 2 Methods of Inquiry, and at least half of the criteria for each Method of Inquiry.

chart outlining changes to the core education

1. Critical Thinking

Students will develop the skills and habits of mind necessary for the comprehensive exploration of issues, ideas, artifacts, and events in the evaluation and formulation of opinions and conclusions. Critical thinking requires students to question critically, think logically and reason effectively in the context of discipline-specific methodologies.

  1. Explanation of issues, assumptions, or hypotheses
  2. Using relevant and credible evidence, information, or hypotheses to describe, investigate or analyze a situation, or draw a conclusion.
  3. Facility with methods of reasoning appropriate to the discipline (such as inductive, deductive, scientific, or esthetic reasoning, or statistical inference)
  4. Modeling: Capturing the essentials of a situation in language or symbolism suitable for deriving conclusions about it.
  5. Influence of context and assumptions
  6. Logical conclusions and related outcomes (implications and consequences)

2. Creative Thinking

Students will develop the capacity to combine or synthesize existing ideas, images, or expertise in original ways, and work in an imaginative way characterized by a high degree of innovation, divergent thinking, and risk taking.

  1. Acquiring Competencies: acquiring strategies and skills within a particular domain.
  2. Taking Risks: going beyond original parameters of assignment, introducing new materials and forms, tackling controversial topics, advocating unpopular ideas or solutions.
  3. Solving Problems
  4. Innovative Thinking: connecting, synthesizing or transforming ideas in discipline-specific ways.

3. Written Communication

Through iterative experiences across the curriculum, students will develop the capacity to develop and express ideas in writing, to work in different genres and styles, work with different writing technologies, and mix texts, data, and images to effectively communicate to different audiences.

  1. Context of and Purpose for Writing: considerations of audience, purpose, and the circumstances surrounding the writing task(s).
  2. Content Development
  3. Genre and Disciplinary Conventions: Formal and informal rules inherent in the expectations for writing in particular forms and/or academic fields
  4. Sources and Evidence
  5. Control of Syntax and Mechanics

4. Ethical Reflection

Students will develop the capacity to identify, examine, and critically revise ethical positions, map them onto larger ethical ideas (theoretical traditions, moral frameworks, prevailing social frameworks), and reflect on how decisions and actions (including, sometimes, inaction) shape our relations to others and self. Students will develop the capacity to articulate the ends sought in a range of endeavors in personal, social and professional contexts. Students will also develop concepts, practices, and other tools appropriate to valuing those ends in relation to their means of attainment and their impacts on self and others.

  1. Awareness of one’s own values and capacities for self-questioning
  2. Language and tools to examine ethical issues, including discipline-specific frameworks
  3. Recognition of the presence of ethical issues, especially where typically neglected
  4. Awareness of impacts of our decisions and actions (both personally and as members of groups)
  5. Application of ethical inquiry to subject-specific issues

Cultural literacy

The Senate replaced the existing Multicultural Requirement with a Cultural Literacy requirement.  Each student will be required to take 1 course in the US: Difference, Inequality and Agency category, and 1 course in the Global Perspectives category. The criteria for each follows.

chart outlining changes to the cultural literacy requirement

1. US: Difference, Inequality and Agency (US)

These courses will develop students’ analytical and reflective capacities to help them understand and ethically engage with the ongoing (cultural, economic, political, social, etc.) power imbalances that have shaped and continue to shape the United States. This engagement may also include the relation of the United States to other regions of the world. Each course will include scholarship, cultural production, perspectives, and voices from members of communities historically marginalized by these legacies of inequality.

Each course will undertake one or more of the following:

  • Teach respectful listening and tools for ethical dialogue in order to expand students’ abilities to practice civil conversation and engage with deeply felt or controversial issues.
  • Facilitate student reflection on their own multiple social identifications and on how those identifications are formed and located in relation to power.

Each course will address each of the following:

  • Intersecting aspects of identity such as race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, indigeneity, national origin, religion, or ability.
  • The uses of power to classify, rank, and marginalize on the basis of these aspects of identity, as well as considerations of agency on the part of marginalized groups.
  • Historical structures, contemporary structures, forms of knowledge, cultural practices, or ideologies that perpetuate or change the distribution of power in society.

2. Global Perspectives (GP)

These courses will foster student encounter with and critical reflection upon cultures, identities, and ways of being in global contexts. Each course will include substantial scholarship, cultural production, perspectives, and voices from members of communities under study, as sources permit.

Each course will undertake one or more of the following:

  • Teach respectful listening and civil conversation as critical tools for collective student engagement with topics that are controversial today;
  • Provide critical vocabulary and concepts allowing students to engage and discuss topics with which students may be unfamiliar.

Each course will engage with one of more of the following:

  • Texts, literature, art, testimonies, practices, or other cultural products that reflect systems of meaning or beliefs beyond the US context;
  • Power relations involving different nations, peoples and identity groups, or world regions;
  • Consideration of hierarchy, marginality or discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, or ability (or some combination).

Note: Approved study abroad programs also fulfill the Global Perspectives requirement.