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.
The Mind: Enhancement of Cognitive Abilities (12–13 hours)
A1. Communicating Effectively
- write clear, concise, and coherent prose in both expository and persuasive modes
- speak clearly, effectively, and persuasively in both formal and informal circumstances
A1. Composition/Speech (9 hours)
A2. Thinking in Mathematical Terms
- achieve proficiency in algebraic skills and learn to apply mathematical techniques to solve problems
- interpret information and data presented in numerical, graphical, or statistical form, and convey this knowledge to others
A2. Mathematics (3–4 hours)
The Self: Enhancement of Individual Development (8 hours)
B1. Making Informed, Intelligent Ethical Judgments
- understand the importance of ethical obligations to others and the responsibility to contribute to the common good
- articulate important ethical issues and identify alternative positions on those issues
- develop or refine individual ethical viewpoints and be able to defend them
B2. Responding to the Arts
- cultivate an understanding of the fine, performing, or literary arts
- establish a means of interpreting works of art and understand how they express ideas and evoke feelings
B3. Adopting a Healthy, Well-Regulated Lifestyle
- engage in physical activities that lead to and sustain personal fulfillment and promote a healthier lifestyle
B3. Health/Fitness (2 hours)
Choose One Fitness course
The World: Enhancement of Cultural and Natural Awareness (26–27 hours)
C1. Understanding the Uses of History
- become familiar with history as a method and a means of viewing human experience
- learn to relate past events, ideas, and achievements to the contexts of present times
C2. Understanding Individual Development and Social Behavior
- acquire an increased insight of your own and others’ behavior and motivations
- know how individuals develop, interact, and organize themselves in political, religious, social, and economic spheres
- consider the significance and vitality of social organizations and the role of the individual within social environments
C2. Individual Development/Social Behavior (6 hours)
C3. Understanding Science and Scientific Thinking
- experience the methods of science that have given us knowledge of the natural world and the laws and patterns that govern it
- understand the use of hypothesis, observation, and experimentation in distinguishing truth from misconception
C3. Science (8–9 hours) *at least one lab (L) course is required
C4. Understanding the Major Thought and Creative Work of Western Culture
- contemplate major ideas presented in great works of philosophy, literature, and fine and performing arts of Western Europe and the Americas
- recognize and respond to the strengths and shortcomings of this tradition and appreciate the diversity that has produced it
C4. Western Culture (6 hours)
C5. Understanding Earth as a Global Community of Interrelated and Interdependent Cultures
- become familiar with various ways in which countries have been and are linked together in the contemporary world
- learn how people belonging to various cultures view and respond to global issues differently
- discern changing patterns in the ways countries interact and their impact on people located around the world
C5. Global Communities (3 hours)
The Synthesis: Integration and Application of Knowledge (3 hours)
D. Assimilating What You Learn
- draw on your educational experiences to develop interdisciplinary responses to problems and issues of today
- explore factors that influence these problems and issues, suggest alternative solutions, and identify ways in which they might contribute to a resolution
- No more than six hours of coursework from the major discipline (if used in the major) may apply toward the UCC. For example, an English major can apply no more than six hours of ENG coursework to both the major and the UCC.
- The following courses appear in more than one UCC category: BGS 201 (B1 and C5), ENG 330 (B2 and C2), BIOL 176 (B3 and C3), and BIOL 251 (C3 and C5). Students taking them may fulfill all indicated categories at the same time, but credit will apply toward the 50-hour total only once. Additional courses to meet the 50-hour minimum may be selected from any University Core category.
- Although the UCC allows students choices in most of its categories, several degree programs restrict course choices for their majors. Refer to your degree audit (Degree Evaluation via myUSI) or contact your academic advisor to determine if specific UCC courses are required for your program.