General Education

Goals and Learning Objectives

The Applied Competencies: Areas of Distribution

Within the General Education curriculum are seven Distribution Areas. Each of the Areas is designed to offer courses that develop specific applied competencies. The seven Applied Competencies, which are the focus of the Distribution Areas, are developed in many other courses as well, including the capstone General Education LEH300 and LEH301.

Applied Competencies are the goals and learning objectives of the Distribution Areas. These areas or subjects comprise basic knowledge, the practical results of thinking, communicating, interpreting as applied to distinct bodies of knowledge. There are seven areas, plus Natural Science. There are six basic categories of Applied Competencies:

Applied Socio-Politico-Economic Competencies: To acquire systematic knowledge of individuals, their impact on society, society's impact on them and how individuals are constituted within a social context. Analytical understanding of current political, economic and social structures, issues and relationships, and of the impact of socio-political structures.

Area I: Individuals and Society. Specific Area objective: To introduce students to modes of inquiry and systematic ways of thinking about individuals and their positions in societies. Students who succeed in courses in this area will be able to demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • An understanding of large scale social processes on a global scale, as well as an ability to understand the significance of race, gender, socioeconomic status, sexuality, and spirituality for diverse members of American society on a smaller scale.
  • Comprehension of the individual's impact on society and society's impact on individuals within socio-political structures through such phenomena as citizenship, migration, crime.
  • An understanding of how individuals learn, develop, form personalities, participate in social interactions, and solve problems, including an appreciation of individual differences, disorders, and of neurological development.
  • Knowledge of scientific concepts, theories, qualitative and quantitative methods of research and their application (using the tools of such disciplines as anthropology, linguistics, psychology, sociology, political science) in analyzing human relationships in society, concepts of culture, socialization, stratification, and causes and effects of inequalities.

Area II: Socio-Political Structures. Specific Area objective: To introduce students to typical modes of inquiry and a systematic way of thinking about the organizations and institutions of society. Students who succeed in courses in this area will be able to demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • Systematic ways of thinking about how human cultural, economic and political activities, and institutions are organized and related.
  • An understanding of the impact of human activities on a range of environmental issues and systems, problems and opportunities, and of how local/regional/global environmental issues and policies shape socio-economic and socio-political structures and vice-versa.
  • An ability to interpret and apply macroeconomic concepts and indicators, as well as analyze the impact of fiscal and monetary policies on output, employment, and prices.
  • An understanding of important political issues in the U.S. and around the world, including the interrelationship of various institutions and their roles in policies and outcomes, and a broad understanding of U.S. governing institutions, actors and political processes, including how contemporary public policies are developed and implemented.

Applied Aesthetic Competencies (literature and the arts): To understand the complexity of texts, their underlying process and structure, and their relationship to the human experience; to appreciate creative/artistic expression in order to participate actively in individual aesthetic and creative experiences; and to use works of literature and art as a basis for phenomenological analysis and interpretation of the human condition, and determine which analysis and interpretation may lead to a truth, some truth, or an approach to truth.

Area III: Literature. Students who successfully complete courses in this area will be able to demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • An understanding of the complexity of literary texts, their underlying process and structure, and their relationship to the human experience.
  • A desire and ability to read literary texts beyond the confines of the course.
  • The ability to articulate ideas on the nature and substance of literary texts, their history and significance, both orally and in writing.
  • Area specific information and library skills, such as retrieval of information about an author, a topic, a myth, etc.; the effective use of electronic card catalogues and databases, and the ability to create a bibliography with citations in MLA format.

Area IV: The Arts. Students who successfully complete courses in this area will be able to demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • A broad and deep understanding of at least one medium of creative/artistic expression, including the historical and cultural context in which it exists.
  • "Artistic literacy" comprising analytic skills in such areas as the visual, musical, plastic, and performing arts.
  • An ability to evaluate the creative process and its product and to communicate this evaluation using domain-appropriate criteria.
  • The ability to reflect upon and convey the experience of participating actively in individual aesthetic and creative experiences.

Applied Cultural Competencies: To analyze processes, problems, and prospects in diverse cultures and societies by examining social and cultural diversity worldwide and by understanding the historical processes that give rise to diversity; to understand cultural components such as identity, race and ethnicity, nationality, family, history, language, gender, economy, ecology, technology, philosophy, aesthetics, politics, ideology, values, religion, migration, and the dynamism of culture.

Area V: Comparative Culture. The specific objective of this area is to develop students' understanding and appreciation of cultural dynamics from a comparative perspective. Students who successfully complete courses in this area will meet this objective by demonstrating one or more of these abilities:

  • Articulate insights into their own cultural rules and biases (e.g. seeking complexity; awareness of how their experiences have shaped these rules, and how to recognize and respond to cultural biases, resulting in a shift in self-description.)
  • Demonstrate sophisticated understanding of the complexity of elements important to members of another culture in relation to its history, values, politics, communication styles, economy, or beliefs and practices.
  • Interpret intercultural experience from the perspectives of their own and more than one world view and demonstrate ability to act in a supportive manner that recognizes the feelings of another cultural group.
  • Ask complex questions about other cultures, seek out and articulate answers to these questions that reflect multiple cultural perspectives.

Applied Historical Competencies: To interpret the past through documents, artifacts, and other primary source materials in order to understand the past and the present in historical context by locating and evaluating traditional and Internet sources, forming an interpretation based on these sources, and communicating ideas and conclusions about major events, ideas, institutions, personalities, and changes of the past.

Area VI: Historical Studies. Students who successfully complete courses in this area will demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • Understanding of and critical thinking about major events, ideas, institutions, personalities, and changes of the past.
  • An ability to explain the significance of primary source materials (documents, artifacts, creative works) in the context of past and present events.
  • Competence in locating and evaluating traditional and online sources, and in forming a cogent interpretation based on these materials.
  • Success in communicating their ideas and conclusions orally and in writing.

Applied Competencies in Individual Values: To use systematic ways of conceiving the world through myth, politics, religion, morality, logic, and philosophy in order to develop an ability to reflect critically on systematic modes of thought, and specifically to rearticulate important arguments and modes of thought.

Areas VII: Knowledge, Self, and Values. Students who successfully complete courses in this area will meet this objective through one or more of the following:

  • Demonstrate an appreciation for fundamental concepts and interpretations of the meaning and significance of human life, as expressed through myth, politics, religion, morality, and philosophy.
  • Discuss in detail/analyze fundamental theories, present the gist of these theories, and accurately explain their details.
  • Recognize ethical issues when presented in a complex, multilayered context and recognize cross-relationships among the issues; apply independently ethical perspectives/concepts to an ethical question, accurately, and discuss full implications of the application;
  • Demonstrate development of their own comprehensive worldviews.

Applied Scientific Competencies: To demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving as applied to the natural world; to discuss, present, and write about science concepts; and to analyze and evaluate data and articles published in various media.

Natural Science: General Education courses in the natural sciences have as their primary objectives the development of critical thinking and science literacy. Students who successfully complete courses in this area will demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving skills and to apply these skills to learning about the natural world.
  • Effective science communication skills that will allow them to discuss, present, and write about science concepts.
  • Broad understanding of major principles and theories of a particular scientific discipline.
  • Information and science literacy that will allow them to analyze and evaluate data and articles published in popular science journals, the Internet, newspapers, and magazines.

Last modified: Oct 13, 2011

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