Interdisciplinary General Education

Learning Outcomes

In exploring major concepts, participants should be able to articulate and develop their ideas clearly and persuasively.  In written and oral modes of communication, they should be able to identify critical issues and use appropriate evidence for developing ideas.  Participants should be able to analyze, compare, and respect differing points of view; to challenge accepted or established positions; and to provide well-reasoned support for their own original ideas and arguments.  They should know how to shape communications - written, oral, and visual - to diverse audiences and purposes. 

When reading, participants should be able to identify main ideas, analyze and compare different interpretations, and make connections between texts and their own experiences.  When writing, they should know how to use the composing process as a mode of learning, and should be able to generate unified, well-supported essays that are free of major grammatical and mechanical errors.  The choice of language and syntax should express the individual participant’s voice with originality and clarity.

With respect to critical thinking, participants should be able to generate original questions, connections, and interpretations. They should be able to integrate diverse sources of information, and evaluate knowledge claims on the basis of evidence and independent reasoning.  They should be able to identify, analyze, and evaluate the premises underlying their own values and arguments.

Program participants should be aware that history is about human experience, and that all-cultural production (ideas, technologies, art forms) has historical dimensions.  They should demonstrate an awareness of how historical events and conditions can be interpreted in multiple ways, and of the value of rigorous and systematic inquiry when undertaking any particular line of interpretation.  They should be able to analyze the events and artifacts of other historical periods in the context of the values, aspirations, and worldviews present during those periods.

Participants should be able to analyze different interpretations of history, and to compare interpretations and evaluate them according to the underlying premises and evidence supporting them. 

They should be able to challenge accepted or established historical interpretations, and know how to undertake independent research to discover appropriate evidence to support new ideas.  They should be able to integrate different source materials (primary and secondary evidence as well as personal experience) to bring a fresh perspective to historical questions and problems.

At the completion of the IGE Program, participants should have enhanced their ability to interpret historical events and conditions, and their awareness that an understanding of any contemporary phenomenon (e.g., an institution, a policy, an art form, a cityscape) requires knowledge of the history that lies behind it. Their understanding of their own place in history should also have enlarged, enabling them to articulate how they and others are both making history and making meaning of that history.  Finally, their study of diverse cultures should enable participants to identify the ways that different cultures define themselves, in part, by the manner in which they conceive of, and record, their own histories.

Program participants should be aware of the multiplicity of cultures around the world, and should recognize the integrity of different worldviews and cultural systems.  They should know how to define the values of their own culture, both American culture in general and their own particular ethnic and national cultures.  They should be able to explain how a particular cultural form (an art form, a belief system, a set of rituals) connects to a larger pattern of beliefs or values, and how it compares to cultural forms of other societies.  Finally, they should be able to define the nature of racism, ethnocentrism, and stereotyping, and to explain the deleterious impact of these forces on human society.

Participants should be able to examine cultures on their own (i.e., the cultures’) terms, and should recognize the dangers of judging other societies through the lens of a single cultural perspective.  They should be able to examine and interrelate several strands of a culture, and to make cross-cultural comparisons that illuminate significant elements of each culture.   Participants’ awareness of cultural diversity should inform the way they frame research questions and strategies, and enhance the sophistication of their scholarly and creative projects.

Participants should be able to define what values are, and to articulate their own values and how they guide their behavior.  They should be able to distinguish between values they profess and values by which they actually live.  They should know how to elucidate ethical dilemmas in ordinary life situations, as well as in political, social, philosophical, and aesthetic issues.

Participants should be able to articulate a concept of civic virtue with respect to the welfare of a learning community, and to recognize how their level of involvement in the community affects the quality of their own learning and the learning of others.  The IGE Program itself constitutes a learning community and, therefore, offers a laboratory for examining and pursuing this goal.

Participants should be able to define their own values and to articulate them in relation to the value systems of other cultures and other historical periods.  They should be able to challenge their own principles and the ways by which they came to adopt them.  They should be able to scrutinize any belief or value in the light of independent reasoning and reflection on their own life experiences.

Participants should be able to recognize and critically examine the implications of their own actions and speech, both as citizens of a community and as future members of professional disciplines.  They should be able to identify for themselves what civic virtue is, and to recognize their obligations to a community of inquiry.  They should show an awareness of the ambiguity of human experience, and an understanding of the incompleteness of knowledge, of any one point of view.

Participants should be able to interpret, evaluate, and appreciate works of literary, visual, architectural, spatial, musical, and dramatic art. They should be able to explore how works of art express particular cultural experiences and themes, and how the works can be understood in the light of cultural beliefs and values. Participants should be able to articulate the value of art as a means of enhancing and enriching human experience.

Participants should be able to interpret works of art originally and creatively, as well as sustain ongoing dialogue with other students and interpreters of artistic expression. They should evidence a flexibility of mind: a capacity to examine and compare works of art through different perspectives and the viewpoints of different disciplines.

The examination of works of art should also give participants an awareness of how art can enrich and clarify the human experience and help redefine one’s way of looking at the world. Participants should be able to see how works of art can reflect the aspirations and integrity of a culture, and how each person recreates those works through his or her encounter with them. Participants should be able to view aesthetic experiences as involving three different kinds of understanding:

  1. Of art as a statement of culture
  2. Of art as an expression of the artist
  3. Of art as a redefinition of one’s own biography

They should also know how to explore and interpret a particular work from different perspectives, including the:

  • How a work interprets the social conditions and dynamics of a particular society;
  • How a work comments upon, and is rooted in the conditions and intellectual environment of a period;
  • How a work illuminates or raises fundamental issues related to the human condition.

In addition participants may view any kind of art as an embodiment of the creative spirit, as a model of the creative possibilities within every human being to make aesthetic choices and to find original connections. Finally, they should see how art may portray and evoke the full range of human emotion and even render a sense of the tragic and the absurd in life. They should see how art might offer modes of looking at the world that complement or transcend the purely rational, and provide a salutary sense of irony--an awareness of the permanent incompleteness of the human experience.

Participants should know how to undertake and sustain projects and carry out research independently.  They should be able to determine the nature and extent of information needed for their academic and personal projects.  They should be able to access needed information effectively and efficiently in electronic as well as physical formats.  Participants should be able to critically evaluate information as well as its sources, and incorporate appropriate information into their knowledge base and value system.  They should be able to use information effectively for research and analysis.   Program participants should understand and follow the principles of academic integrity with respect to information sources, and appreciate the economic, legal, social, and ethical issues surrounding the use of information.

Participants should integrate learning over time by making connections across courses, and between academic, personal, and community life. Further, participants should employ integrative learning as a habit of mind that will prepare them to make informed judgments in a changing and increasingly connected world. Participants should transfer and apply skills, abilities, and theories gained in one context to another context. Developing capacities for integrative learning is central to personal success, social responsibility, and civic engagement in today’s global society.

Participants should be able to assume, with confidence and understanding, responsibility for their own learning.  They should be able to postulate their own questions and develop their own ways of answering them.  Connecting the ideas and issues in each course directly to their own lives, they should be able to recognize themselves fully as authors of their own learning, as autonomous seekers of knowledge.