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Essential Studies Breadth of Knowledge Area Requirements
All ES courses are required to thoroughly address one ES program goal. Those goals are as follows:
Goal #1 Thinking and Reasoning
You should be able to use a variety of thinking and reasoning skills, apply these skills as appropriate in various situations, and move among them depending on purpose.
- critical thinking
- quantitative reasoning
- creative thinking
Goal #2 Communication
You should be able to write and speak in civic, academic, and professional settings with a sense of purpose and audience.
- written communication
- oral communication
Goal #3 Information Literacy
You should be able to access and evaluate information for effective, efficient, and ethical use in a variety of contexts.
Goal #4 Diversity
Students should be able to demonstrate understanding of social-cultural diversity and use that understanding to address issues, solve problems, and shape civic, personal, and professional behavior.
In addition to addressing ES goals, ES courses are validated or revalidated within specific disciplinary categories, which occurs according to the definitions and guidelines below. In selecting the appropriate category, ESC members consider three sources of information:
- the disciplinary category requested by the faculty member or department,
- document provided on the syllabus,
- any explanatory notes or supplementary materials provided by the faculty member or department.
Each qualifying course is normally validated for a single category in accordance with the four disciplinary category definitions below:
Arts & Humanities
9 credits required, including at least 3 in Fine Arts and 3 in Humanities
The arts and humanities involve the investigation and interpretation of the following: human behavior and affairs, culture, thought, language, literature, text, symbols, visual art, music, dance, and theater.
The fine arts focus on artistic creation.
- ES courses in the fine arts take as their primary goal instruction in techniques used for imaginative creation including, though not necessarily limited to, the following (and any combination thereof): visual or aural productions, the performance arts, and linguistic expressions.
- ES courses in the fine arts also include instruction in ways of interpreting or evaluating these creative productions.
The humanities focus on analysis and interpretation.
- ES courses in the humanities take as their primary goal the analysis of language, history, culture, text, society, formal structures, and artistic work.
- ES courses in the humanities may help students develop facility with language.
- Though not the primary focus of the course, courses in the humanities may also include opportunities to practice the creation of works.
9 credits required, divided among at least two departments
Social sciences involve the study of the behavior and cultures of humans – individually or in groups. The social sciences involve empirical analysis in order to evaluate and make predictions or draw conclusions about human behavior; interpretations are made via induction, deduction, or a combination of both.
- ES courses in the social sciences introduce students to human behavior.
- ES courses also introduce them to some of the methodologies through which conclusions in the various disciplines are reached: probabilistic explanatory models, case studies, censuses, historical document analysis, oral histories, ethnographies, surveys, participant observations, analysis of material evidence (artifacts), experiments or quasi-experiments.
Math, Science, and Technology
9 credits in at least two departments with at least one lab science course
Mathematics is a body of knowledge based on patterns, abstraction and logical reasoning, often involving quantity, structure, space, or change. Mathematics uses formal reasoning to investigate relationships between abstract patterns.
- Many courses in mathematics involve numerical skills and quantitative reasoning.
- ES courses in mathematics should give students some experience in abstract reasoning as well as the use of such reasoning to reach conclusions about the world.
Pure science is concerned with the production of knowledge about the natural world. As such, it is often based on natural observation, experimentation and analysis.
- Courses in the natural sciences make use of inductive and deductive reasoning, in conjunction with the scientific method, to investigate how the natural physical, chemical, and biological world operates.
- ES courses in the natural sciences should give students experience in asking questions about the natural world and the chance to use observation and experimentation to formulate answers to those questions.
Engineering and Technology
Engineering and technology are concerned with the construction or production of tangible items. They often involve application of mathematics or science to produce useful products, and they make use of mathematics and the natural sciences to design, create and alter the human environment and our interactions with that environment.
- Courses in engineering teach students how engineering/technology projects are initiated and carried out.
- ES courses ask students to think carefully about societal and cultural consequences of the use of engineering and technology.
9 credits required, including 6 credits of English Composition and 3 credits of oral communication (available through various departments)
College-level communication courses introduce, and give students the opportunity to practice, the skills necessary to speak and write effectively in civic, academic, and professional settings. Recognizing that effective communication is learned through continued practice, these courses place a strong emphasis on process; instructors give regular feedback to students on their speaking and/or writing and students are required to produce multiple oral presentations and/or written texts. Though these formal assignments certainly require students to work with particular content or information, they also demand that students are aware of rhetorical strategies and style of delivery.
- ES communication courses are designed to encourage the development of the following skills: awareness of purpose and the construction of argument; awareness of audience; the ability to analyze, synthesize, and incorporate outside sources and the ideas of others; using the conventions associated with citing sources and communicating clearly in various disciplines.