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Diversified Core Courses

Diversified core courses employ teaching and learning strategies that engage you with doing the work of the field, not just reading about it. These courses include small group experiences (such as discussion sections or labs) and use writing appropriate to the discipline to help you learn and reflect on your learning. Except in rare and justified cases, diversified core courses do not have prerequisites beyond the University’s entrance requirements.

Each diversified core requirement meets core-specific criteria.


Arts/Humanities core courses explore the ways art derives its value from various histories and perspectives. You will develop skills of thoughtful analysis, flexibility, and ingenuity in problem solving. These courses are designed to initiate a lasting connection to the arts for you as a creator, viewer, or participant.

To satisfy the arts/ humanities core requirement in arts, a course must meet these criteria for you, the student, to:

  • Create individual, artistic efforts

  • Reflect on artistic efforts in writing or in discussion to develop awareness of the considerations that guide artistic practice and response

  • Become aware of why and how artists select their content, media, and method

  • Develop an understanding of the arts in relation to the communities in and for which art is created

  • Examine how the historical dimensions of time, place, and culture inform artistic practice

To satisfy the arts/ humanities core requirement in humanistic studies, a course must meet these criteria for you, the student, to:

  • Engage in detailed analysis of and reflection on some humanistic literature or creative product—for example, a philosophical essay, a religious treatise, a work of cultural commentary, or a documentary film

  • Develop an understanding of the works or cultural practices in consideration. Where appropriate (for example, in considering a philosophical work), engage in critical evaluation of the work

  • Examine how the work under consideration arose out of its cultural or historical context

  • Explore the role that the work plays in the larger society of which it is a part

Biological sciences core courses teach you a measure of biological literacy that allows you to analyze new biological information as it becomes available, put it into the framework of previous knowledge, and appreciate how it affects the earth’s organisms. You will see how biology is done and develop an appreciation of the creative spark that drives discovery in biology.

To satisfy the biological sciences core requirement, a course must meet these criteria by:

  • Providing experimental evidence for how current knowledge in biology was obtained

  • Exploring examples of unanswered questions in biology

  • Integrating mathematical thinking into analysis and interpretation of data

  • Having at least two hours of laboratory per week, in which you have first-hand experience in producing and handling data, and using tools of the discipline (i.e., thinking and working like a biologist)

  • Including laboratory experiences in which you do hands-on testing of principles presented in the lecture portion of the course; some laboratory sessions may include computer simulations of experiments or observations that otherwise cannot readily be addressed during a semester (e.g., evolution of a population over thousands of years)

  • Providing laboratory experiments that allow you to confront interpretation of mistakes and unexpected results

A lab experience in the Biological Sciences Core requires you to do one or more of the following:

  • Perform hands-on experiments, measurements, or analyses that test basic concepts or hypotheses about living organisms

  • Analyze, interpret, and draw conclusions from data

  • Examine the relationship between structure and function of biological specimens

  • Explore biological systems to understand how individual organisms interact with each other and the environment

  • Use mathematical models to describe or predict responses and behaviors in living systems

Historical perspectives core courses investigate how historical knowledge is produced from artifacts (primary sources). These courses equip you with a deep understanding of particular approaches to the past, teaching you to think critically and in an informed manner about your own and others’ assumptions and assertions about the human past.

To satisfy the historical perspectives core requirement, a course must meet these criteria by:

  • Examining the human past, studying the beliefs, practices, and relationships that shaped human experience over time

  • Focusing on change over time, giving attention to specific historical contexts

  • Introducing and critically assessing methods and concepts employed in producing historical knowledge

  • Having you work independently with primary sources to learn how to do the interpretive work that extracts meaning from historical material

  • Having you evaluate the uses and the limitations of certain primary sources

  • Considering how the questions humans ask and the available sources shape knowledge of the past and understanding of its significance

Literature core courses introduce you to the ways in which literature enlarges understanding of the human experience, transforms thinking and lives, and helps to imagine new possibilities for society and the world. You will engage in analysis of written works of literature (fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and others) and examine the social and historical contexts of the literary work.

To satisfy the literature core requirement, a course must meet these criteria by:

  • Focusing on analysis of written works of literature (fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and others), and specifically addresses issues of language and meaning in the works studied

  • Having you study the formal dimensions of literature: how the authors' choices—such as the choice of genre, style, character presentation, vocabulary, meter or the use of symbolism—have created the literature's effect of powerfully evoking the reader's response.

  • Examining the social and historical contexts of the literary works as well as their content

Mathematical thinking core courses familiarize you with the two primary aspects of mathematical thinking: mathematics as a body of knowledge and its broad applicability. These courses engage you in the manipulation of mathematical or logical symbols and in understanding how these concepts could be used to analyze applied problems.

To satisfy the mathematical thinking core requirement, a course must meet these criteria by:

  • Exhibiting the dual nature of mathematics both as a body of knowledge and as a powerful tool for real-world applications

  • Having you manipulate mathematical or logical symbols

  • Meeting at least the level of standards for regular entry to the University for prerequisite math requirements and mathematics

Physical sciences core courses acquaint you with a particular discipline’s key basic concepts and results regarding the natural laws, processes, and properties of matter. They expose you to the basic processes of producing such knowledge, including a laboratory or fieldwork component.

To satisfy the physical sciences core requirement, a course must meet these criteria by:

  • Imparting an understanding of physical phenomena by analyzing and describing the nature, constitution, and properties of non-living matter and energy

  • Having you employ mathematical or quantitative analysis in the description and elucidation of natural phenomena

  • Including a laboratory or field work component, consisting of, on average, two hours per week, which may involve direct experimentation, fieldwork, or computer simulations

  • Providing an understanding of the scientific method, by which observations of the natural world lead to the formulation of hypotheses or explanations of physical phenomena that are then empirically tested by experiment or observation

 A lab experience in the physical science core requires you, the student, to do one or more of the following:

  • Perform hands-on experiments, measurements, simulations, or analyses that test basic concepts or hypotheses

  • Quantitatively examine and test phenomena that may be described in terms of principles recognized within the discipline

  • Conduct discovery-based experiments

  • Manipulate data sets

Social sciences core courses facilitate your comprehension of the patterns and problems of your own and other societies. Knowledge of the social sciences brings you a better understanding of yourself in relation to others; shows how individuals, institutions, events, and ideas are connected; leads you to be more thoughtful and active citizens; and enhances personal capacities and welfare.

To satisfy the social sciences core requirement, a course must meet these criteria by:

  • Demonstrating how social scientists describe and analyze human experiences and behavior

  • Having you manipulate social science data (primary or secondary) using one or more of the primary quantitative or qualitative methods for collecting and/or analyzing these data

  • Identifying key disciplinary resources and evaluating their quality

  • Exploring the interrelationships among individuals, institutions, structures, events, and/or ideas

  • Having you examine the roles that individuals play in cultural, social, economic, and/or political worlds

  • Promoting multidisciplinary ways of thinking that can be used to synthesize and analyze local, national, and global issues, and the connections among these

  • Having you work collaboratively and individually to construct new knowledge