Area Outcomes

Requirements for Undergraduate Students 

The CLAS General Education CLAS Core is divided into three broad content areas, with a total of 11 requirements; the area learning outcomes are included at the link for each requirement. Faculty interested in proposing a course for GE status should visit this page.

Communication and Literacy

Natural, Quantitative, and  Social Sciences

Culture, Society, and the Arts


Rhetoric helps student to develop skills in speaking, writing, listening, and critical reading. It also builds competence in research and inquiry as well as in analysis and persuasion, especially in the area of understanding public controversies in their social contexts.

General Education courses in rhetoric help students to use writing and speaking to discover and explain, question and justify positions in a controversy; use reading and listening to comprehend and consider arguments, both as separate constructs and in conversation with one another; understand basic rhetorical concepts such as purpose and audience and use them in composing effective spoken and written communication; understand and use research as responsible inquiry.

Rhetoric courses approved for General Education are sometimes organized around a special topic, but the primary emphasis is always on rhetorical practice and analysis.

Some sections involve special activities, such as service-learning components, but the workload across all sections is comparable, with a fixed number of major assignments and a departmentally approved set of readings.

Interpretation of Literature

Building on previously acquired skills of reading and writing, courses approved for the Interpretation of Literature area seek to reinforce in every student a lifetime habit of frequent, intelligent, and satisfying reading. These courses, taught in English in small sections, focus primarily on "ways of reading," asking students to become aware of themselves as readers, to learn how to deal with different kinds of texts, and to understand how texts exist within larger historical, social, political, and/or cultural contexts. These "ways of reading," while growing out of various critical approaches to literature, are also transferable to other fields of study.

Content: Texts should be chosen from several genres (fiction, drama, poetry, essay, etc.) and must span more than a single century. Diversity of race, gender, and social background among the authors read is encouraged. Courses must be taught in English. Lower-level courses are approved in this area; upper-level course work is not appropriate.


  • Students refine their reading skills by the exposure to a wide variety of genres from multiple centuries.
  • Students improve their reading comprehension and analysis by using a range of strategies or “ways of reading” appropriate for the assigned texts.
  • Students strengthen their analytical and critical responses to texts through the intensive use of oral and written responses.
  • Through assigned readings, class discussion, and writing assignments, students begin to recognize the influence of a reader’s individual differences and experiences on interpretation and analysis.
  • In discussion and in writing, students consider and begin to understand the crucial connections between individual texts and cultural, historical, political, social, and other contexts.
  • Finally, students deepen their vision of themselves as readers, particularly as contrasted to beginning of the course.

World Languages

Courses in this area provide students with speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in a second language. These courses also provide some knowledge of the culture(s) in which the language is spoken.

Content: Any language other than English (including American Sign Language), including languages not now spoken (for example, Ancient Greek) may be approved in this area. Only languages for which the College can guarantee regular offerings of a complete course sequence that are taught on regular and recurring basis are approved in this area.


Students will be able to read, speak, and understand the language as described in the course descriptions, and will develop enhanced understanding of the culture(s) in which the language is(was) used.

Natural Sciences

Courses in this area explore the scope and major concepts of a scientific discipline. In these courses students learn the attitudes and practices of scientific investigators: logic, precision, experimentation, tentativeness, and objectivity. In courses with a laboratory component students gain experience in methods of scientific inquiry.

Content: Courses from any natural science, including interdisciplinary courses that combine elements of more than one natural science discipline, are appropriate for approval in this area. All approved courses must include exposure to the methods and theory of the discipline or disciplines on which the course focuses. Histories of science or philosophy of science courses are not appropriate for this area.


  • Students will come to understand a significant segment of natural science, including its major concepts and ways of framing questions.
  • Students will understand and appreciate the attitudes of science: logic, precision, experimentation, tentativeness, and objectivity.
  • In laboratory courses, students will use laboratory investigations and appropriate procedures to generate accurate and meaningful data and derive reasonable conclusions from them.
  • Students will develop and practice those communication skills that apply to the relevant discipline.

Quantitative or Formal Reasoning

Courses in this area help develop analytical skills through the practice of quantitative or formal symbolic reasoning. Courses focus on the presentation and evaluation of evidence and argument, the understanding of the use and misuse of data, and the organization of information in quantitative or other formal symbolic systems including those used in the disciplines of computer sciences, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, and statistics.

Content: Courses approved in this area have as their primary purpose the development of the analytical powers of the student as they might be exercised in presentation and evaluation of mathematical or other formal symbolic systems.


  • Students will learn and practice a method or methods of analytical or formal symbolic reasoning, for example a specific set of mathematical, statistical, computer programming, or logic skills.
  • Students will learn to evaluate arguments made in the symbolic system embodied in the course and will become familiar with its major concepts and ways of formulating questions

Social Sciences

Courses in this area focus on human behavior and the institutions and social systems that shape and are shaped by that behavior. Courses provide an overview of one or more social science disciplines, their theories, and methods.

Content: Courses approved in this area should provide students an understanding of at least one of the social science disciplines. Each course must achieve considerable breadth in presenting concerns of the social sciences, in one of these ways: the course may survey an entire discipline in the social sciences; the course may cover a major part of a discipline in the social sciences; the course may address major aspects of human behavior as studied in several social sciences; the course may provide an understanding of human behavior, institutions, and social systems that endows students with what a citizen should understand about these topics.


  • Students will examine the strengths and weaknesses of at least one method of inquiry distinctive of the social sciences, and become familiar with its major assumptions, concepts, and ways of formulating questions. Students will learn to evaluate data, generalizations, and hypotheses in the discipline. Students will have the opportunity to practice the methods of the discipline.
  • Students will be given practice in developing positions and supporting their ideas with evidence and reason.

Diversity and Inclusion

Courses develop students’ recognition of their positions in an increasingly pluralistic world while fostering an understanding of social and cultural differences. Courses in this area are generally discussion based.


  • Students explore the historical and structural bases of inequality.
  • Students learn about the benefits and challenges of diversity.
  • Students reflect critically on their own social and cultural perspectives.
  • Students increase their ability to engage with people who have backgrounds or ideas different from their own.

Historical Perspectives

Courses in this area help students understand a period of the past in its own terms, comprehend the historical processes of change and continuity, sharpen their analytical skills in the evaluation of evidence and develop their ability to generalize, explain, and interpret historical change. Courses from any discipline or interdisciplinary unit that examine the broad history of any subject matter, people, or idea may be approved in this area. Courses may survey a single topic across time, or intensively cover a specific period, or study one or several issues in comparative perspective within or across time, or cover a topical problem from the perspectives of historical investigation.


  • Students will understand one or more periods of the past in its/their own terms.
  • Students will comprehend change and continuity in history.
  • Students will improve their ability to evaluate evidence using the tools of historical investigation.
  • Students will gain experience and improve their skills in generalizing, explaining, and interpreting historical change.

International and Global Issues

Courses examine contemporary international or global issues, introducing students to the perspectives of other nations or cultures. Courses in this area help students to understand contemporary issues from an international or global perspective by focusing predominantly on countries or issues outside of the United States. Courses studying a single country or using a historical perspective must place the subject within a contemporary international or global context.


  • Students develop knowledge of one or more contemporary global or international issue.
  • Students demonstrate a greater awareness of various perspectives and a deeper appreciation of how differences arise.
  • Students are better able to adapt to the complexity and diversity of contemporary life through their understanding of international and global contexts.
  • Students know and are able to apply at least one method of analysis and critical inquiry.

Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts

These courses provide opportunities for students to appreciate art, to analyze art in historical and theoretical context, and in some courses to create works of art or performances.

Students develop the analytic, expressive, and imaginative abilities needed to understand and/or create art. Literary, visual, and performing arts courses may focus on artistic processes or on analysis of finished works, whether created by professionals or by students themselves. Courses emphasizing processes will provide ample opportunity for students to engage actively in producing art; courses emphasizing analysis will give students ample experience applying one or more methods of research and critical inquiry.

  • Students recognize constituent parts of an artwork and the processes of artistic production.
  • Students recognize how aesthetic and critical meanings are attached to artworks and understand ways quality can be evaluated.
  • Students relate art to the broader human context (e.g. historical, social, ethnic, economic, geographic) in which it is created, including, for example, how an artwork or form is linked to the artist’s culture and identity.

Values and Culture

Courses focus on how culture shapes the human experience and on the role of values in society.


  • Students ask fundamental questions regarding the human experience.
  • Students become aware of the characteristics that define culture and values.
  • Students apply at least one method to analyze cultural value systems.
  • Students consider the complex origins of their own values and beliefs.