Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes (PDF)

Communication Skills and Critical Thinking

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.

Historical and Social Consciousness

Program participants should be aware of how history is concerned, above all, with human experience, and how all expression of culture (ideas, technologies, art forms) have historical dimensions. They should demonstrate an awareness of how historical events and conditions can be interpreted in multiple ways, and of the need for rigor 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 world views present in those periods.

Participants should not only be able to critique different interpretations of history (artifacts and texts from earlier periods as well as later interpretations), but also to compare interpretations and evaluate them in the light of their underlying premises and the evidence that supports them. They should be able to challenge accepted or established interpretations and know how to undertake independent research, showing the skill of integrating different source materials (both primary and secondary) and bringing a fresh perspective to them.

At the completion of their work in the program, participants should have enhanced their ability to interpret historical events and conditions independently, recognizing that an understanding of any contemporary phenomenon (e.g., an institution, a policy, an art form, a cityscape) will be far from complete without a knowledge of the history that lies behind it. In addition, they should be able to undertake sustained projects that synthesize different source materials in creative ways. 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 other 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.

Multicultural Understanding

Program participants should be aware of the multiplicity of cultures around the world, and should recognize the integrity of different world views 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 begin 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

Understanding and Appreciation of Aesthetic Experiences

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:

  • Of art as a statement of culture
  • Of art as an expression of the artist
  • 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:

  • Sociological. How a work interprets the social conditions and dynamics of a particular society
  • Historical. How a work comments upon, and is rooted in the conditions and intellectual environment of a period
  • Philosophical. 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.

Articulation of Values

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 begin to articulate a concept of civic virtue with respect to the welfare of a learning community, and should be able to recognize how their level of involvement in the community effects 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.

Information Literacy

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.

Active Student Learning

Program participants should define their own goals as learners, and to recognize themselves as co-developers of the IGE syllabus. They should begin to feel confident about being full participants in what Robert Hutchins has called the "Great Conversation", being cognizant of their responsibility to involve themselves fully and genuinely in the examination of ideas. The examination extends to both their own conceptions and the conceptions of others.

Participants should continue to develop their independence and autonomy as learners, recognizing at the same time their involvement in a collective process of study and analysis. They should be able to sustain (both as individuals and as group members) projects whose goals and design they can articulate on their own. They should begin to serve both as learners and as instructors, developing ideas and approaches that advance the collective understanding of the group.

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. They should know how to undertake and sustain projects and carry out research independently. 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.