Through the University Core Curriculum, USI seeks to encourage in all students the desire and ability to achieve personal growth and contribute meaningfully to society. The University Core program 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 needs, the University Core Curriculum exposes students to 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 escape from narrow perspectives and values, and 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.
Since the University Core Curriculum has a diversity of aims, no single course addresses all of them. The program as a whole seeks to achieve the objectives presented below. But among the overall goals for the program are these two: critical thinking and information processing.
- Critical thinking is defined as "the ability to analyze and critically evaluate information." Students who complete the University Core should learn to analyze information presented in numerical, written, spoken, and visual formats. They should develop higher-order cognitive skills such as interpreting, synthesizing, applying, illustrating, inferring, comparing-contrasting, distinguishing the central from the peripheral, and predicting. They should learn to differentiate opinion, theory, and fact, and should be able to define problems and identify solutions.
- Information processing is defined as "the ability to locate, gather, and process information." Students who complete the Core should also know how to perform basic research tasks involving primary and secondary sources, including laboratory and field experiences. They should learn to retrieve and organize information stored in diverse formats, and use the computer to extend their ability to process information.
A. The Mind: Enhancement of Cognitive Abilities
A1. The ability to communicate effectively
Students should be able to write clear, concise, and coherent prose in both expository and persuasive modes. They should be able to speak clearly, effectively, and persuasively in both formal and informal circumstances.
A2. The ability to think in mathematical terms
Students should achieve proficiency in algebraic skills and learn to apply mathematical techniques to solve problems. They should be able to interpret information and data presented in numerical, graphical, or statistical form, and convey this knowledge to others.
B. The Self: Enhancement of Individual Development
B1. The ability to make informed, intelligent ethical judgments
Students should enhance their understanding of their ethical obligations to others and their responsibility to contribute to the common good. They should be able to articulate important ethical issues and to identify alternative positions on those issues (including the grounds of those positions). They should also develop or refine their own ethical viewpoints and be able to defend them.
B2. The ability to respond thoughtfully to the arts
Students should enhance their understanding of the fine, performing, or literary arts. They should begin to develop means of interpreting works of art and understanding ways in which such works express ideas and evoke feelings.
B3. The ability to adopt a healthy, well-regulated lifestyle
Students should engage in physical activities that lead to healthier lives and personal fulfillment. They should also understand how to develop and sustain emotional and physical well-being.
C. The World: Enhancement of Cultural and Natural Awareness
C1. An understanding of the uses of history
Students should become familiar with history as a method and a means of viewing human experience. By studying the significance of continuity and change, students should learn to relate events, ideas, and achievements to the contexts of their times, and assess the roles of individuals, institutions, and social processes.
C2. An understanding of individual development and social behavior
Students should acquire increased understanding of their own behavior and motivations, and increased understanding of the behavior of others. They should know how individuals develop, interact, and organize themselves in political, religious, social, and economic spheres. They should understand the significance and vitality of social organizations ranging from groups to institutions, and the role of the individual within social environments.
C3. An understanding of science and scientific thinking
Students should experience the unique methods of science by which we have acquired knowledge of the natural world. They should understand the roles and limitations of hypothesis, observation, and experimentation in distinguishing truth from misconception. Students should also acquire broad based knowledge about the natural world and of the laws and patterns that govern it; such knowledge should enable them to understand personal and public issues relating to science.
C4. An understanding of the major thought and creative work of western culture
Students should understand and contemplate the major ideas presented in the great works of philosophy, literature, and fine and performing arts of Western Europe and the Americas. They should recognize and respond to the strengths and shortcomings of this tradition, and appreciate the diverse voices that have shaped it.
C5. An understanding of Earth as a global community consisting of interrelated and interdependent cultures
Students should be familiar with the various ways in which countries have been and are linked together in the contemporary world. They should learn about variations in culture among and within countries and about how people belonging to different cultures view and respond to global issues differently. Students should also know about changing patterns in the ways countries interact and their impacts on people located in different parts of the world. In studying these linkages, significant attention will be paid to cultures outside the United States.
D. The Synthesis: Integration and Application of Knowledge
Students should be able to draw on their educational experiences to develop interdisciplinary responses to problems and issues of contemporary life. They should explore the factors that influence these problems and issues, suggest alternative solutions, and identify ways in which they might contribute toward their resolution.