The University Core Curriculum is that portion of academic work required of all degree-seeking students, regardless of academic major or minor. Students pursuing bachelor’s degrees complete the entire program. Students pursuing associate degrees complete approximately half of the program; specific requirements are determined in conjunction with the departments offering the degrees.
Through the University Core Curriculum, USI encourages in all students the desire and ability to achieve personal growth and contribute meaningfully to society. The University Core Curriculum involves non-specialized, non-vocational learning that views students first as human beings, equipping them to harness their full intellectual, aesthetic, emotional, and physical resources to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. The program is based on the premise that students must know themselves and their world before they can become responsive and responsible leaders. It assumes that students need to think clearly, speak and write well, live according to consistent ideals, understand public issues, and use knowledge wisely.
To fulfill these intellectual, academic, and social needs, the University Core Curriculum shows students various ways of knowing and invites them to analyze the great ideas and achievements of humanity. Students can acquire an appreciation of their place in the continuum of life by studying not only their own world but also that of the past, of other cultures, and of nature. They can identify and move away from narrow perspectives and values in order to actively participate in shaping their lives, society, and environment.
A student’s major area of specialized study and the University Core Curriculum complement each other. The former provides knowledge that distinguishes us from one another in our diverse walks of life; the latter provides knowledge and abilities that all educated people share. By joining the two, the University can accomplish its primary mission of preparing students to live wisely. The two goals, however, that pervade the entire program are critical thinking and information processing.
Critical thinking is defined as “the ability to analyze and evaluate information.” Students who complete the University Core should be able to analyze information presented in numerical, written, spoken, and visual formats. They should display development of higher-order cognitive skills such as interpreting, synthesizing, applying, illustrating, inferring, comparing-contrasting, distinguishing the central from the peripheral, and predicting. They should be able to differentiate opinion, theory, and fact and also define problems and identify solutions.
Information processing is defined as “the ability to locate, gather, and refine information.” Students who complete the Core should also be able to perform basic research tasks using primary and secondary sources including laboratory and field experiences. They should be able to retrieve and organize information stored in diverse formats, and use the computer to extend their ability to process information.