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General Education Requirements: The Linfield Curriculum

The purpose of the general education requirements called the Linfield Curriculum is to foster the development of wholly educated persons by providing a coherent experience spanning the arts and humanities, natural sciences, and social-behavioral sciences.  The Linfield Curriculum seeks to enable students to communicate effectively; appreciate literary, artistic, and historical works; be conversant with various philosophical and religious conceptions of humanity; understand the role of diversity both globally and nationally; analyze how human beings behave individually and socially; understand, formulate, and critique quantitative arguments; and comprehend the methods and accomplishments of modern science.

Grounded in the multidisciplinary spirit of the liberal arts, the Linfield Curriculum stresses wide exposure to the ways that educated individuals, be they scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, teachers, or ethicists, engage ideas, articulate choices, and assert opinions.  It encourages students to cultivate intellectual and personal flexibility, pursue independent action, and engage in responsible decision-making.  The Linfield Curriculum emphasizes communication and facilitates self-discovery in personal, cultural, and academic contexts.  It affirms the need to understand people and societies both nationally and internationally.  In short, the Linfield Curriculum encourages inquiry, analysis, and imagination, habits of mind that provide the foundation for reasoned action, wonder, and continued learning in all aspects of life.

I. The Inquiry Seminar (INQS 125)**see note

At the center of the Linfield Curriculum is the Inquiry Seminar, taken by each first- or second-year student.  A collaborative investigation of a compelling subject, the Inquiry Seminar builds upon and deepens the relationship between thinking and communication, both oral and written.  It models the goals of the entire Linfield Curriculum by developing the critical thinking skills common to every discipline and vital to becoming an educated person.  Inquiry Seminars are taught by faculty from many fields and offer a wide range of topics varying from semester to semester.  Because they provide an introduction to thinking and communicating within the academic environment, Inquiry Seminars do not satisfy requirements for majors and minors.  Each student may take only one Inquiry Seminar except in cases of failure. 

II. The Six Modes of Inquiry

The Modes of Inquiry offer six conceptual frames of reference central to the pursuit and construction of modern knowledge: Creative Studies; Individuals, Systems, and Societies; Natural World; Quantitative Reasoning; Ultimate Questions; and Vital Past.  While resembling the traditional distributional arrangements of general education, these categories also transcend them by asking students and faculty to focus on the distinctive cross-disciplinary questions underlying each Mode of Inquiry.  The Linfield Curriculum encourages intellectual breadth by introducing students to a wide variety of academic experiences.  Each student must complete at least seven approved courses, one in each of the Six Modes of Inquiry and one Upper-Division course.

A. Creative Studies (CS)

Courses with this designation are dedicated to the study of theory and practice in music, theatre, literature, and the visual and plastic arts.  They foreground creative theory, or creative practice, or integrate the two.  These courses study the making of art and how meaning—sometimes tense or contradictory—rises out of the interaction between artists, artworks, and audiences.  Thus, they ask students to inquire into the ambiguities, contradictions and tensions fundamental to art making and its aesthetic effects.  Art is a primary way that human beings reflect upon their experiences and perceptions.  Therefore, these courses encourage students to value lifelong engagement with the arts.

B. Individuals, Systems, and Societies (IS)

Courses in this area examine how members of societies organize themselves to satisfy individual and collective goals.  They foster an understanding of the complexity and interconnectedness of individuals, systems, and societies across local, national, and/or global contexts.  They also encourage students to think critically about themselves and their relationships to other individuals, institutions, and/or social systems.

C. Natural World (NW)

Courses in this mode explore science as a way of knowing about the natural world, highlighting the process of scientific inquiry and the interplay between theoretical and experimental analysis.   They focus on fundamental principles that illuminate the study of our surroundings, including matter, energy, and living things.  Emphasis is placed on students making connections between science and their daily lives.

D. Quantitative Reasoning (QR)

Courses in this category explore contextual problems involving quantitative relationships by means of numerical, symbolic, and visual representations.  These courses foster critical analysis of the uses and constraints of quantitative information and its representations.  Finally, they focus on discussing models; making appropriate assumptions; and deducing consequences or making predictions.

E. Ultimate Questions (UQ)

Courses with this designation are designed to encourage students to articulate and evaluate unexamined assumptions and paradigmatic ways of acquiring knowledge through a critical analysis of fundamental beliefs, cultural practices, and competing truth claims with the aim to develop greater self-knowledge and wisdom, the ability for meaningful dialogue, social responsibility and understanding, and an appreciation for questions that lead to deeper insights into our actions and the reasons for them.  While this mode of inquiry strongly emphasizes an assessment of cognitive systems and symbols, such courses also explore metaphors and language that penetrate to pre-cognitive or post-cognitive levels of people’s action (ethics) and ways of belonging (sociology) often associated with the sacred. 

F. Vital Past (VP)

Courses in this mode of inquiry explore the human past and offer an opportunity to reflect on the continuities, change, and diversity in human experience across time.  They investigate social, cultural, political, and other dimensions of human historical experience.  They introduce students to various methods that scholars in different disciplines have developed to study the human past. These courses also encourage students to think critically about the interconnections between past and present.

III. Writing-Intensive Requirements

In addition to the Inquiry Seminar, all students must complete the approved upper-division Writing-Intensive class, or sequence of classes, designated for their respective majors by their home departments. This requirement serves to enhance students’ mastery of the formats, conventions, and habits of mind appropriate to the major’s disciplinary investigations.

IV. Diversity Studies

Diversity Studies within the Linfield Curriculum is meant to ensure that all students examine the cultural and individual differences produced by such factors as gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, and sexual orientation.  The college thus affirms the benefits of mutual tolerance and civil discussion fostered by a deepened understanding of and respect for human complexity.  Students must take two courses, one that fulfill Global Pluralisms (GP) and another which fulfills the U.S. Pluralisms (US) requirement.

A. Global Pluralisms (GP)

Courses with this designation focus students’ attention beyond their own national boundaries. The use of analytical frameworks challenges students to address and understand the social, political, ethical, cultural, religious, and/or policy discourses of other countries from a global perspective.  These courses also include a consideration of multicultural perspectives within other countries.

B. U.S. Pluralisms (US)

Courses with this designation explore the diverse experiences among those living in the United States.  Students pursue inquiry into the varied dimensions of human diversity such as age, disability, ethnicity, gender, language, politics, race, religion, sexual orientation, and/or social class.  These courses examine how the dominant traditions of American culture have marginalized the voices of those who have typically fallen outside those traditions, using analytical frameworks, or discussion that addresses the social, political, ethical, cultural, philosophical, and/or policy discourses among those groups.

**INQS 125 Note:

Students who have completed fewer than 30 transferable semester credits of college coursework will be required to take INQS 125 at Linfield.

Students who have completed 30 or more transferable semester credits of college coursework, including one semester (3 credit minimum) or two quarters of writing and composition, in a college setting, where the course(s) fulfill similar learning outcomes as INQS 125, may not have to register for an Inquiry Seminar at Linfield. Students should be prepared to provide the syllabus/syllabi for the course(s) they believe meet these outcomes for review.

Writing and composition courses completed as part of a dual-enrollment program during high school (that is, taken in a high-school setting for college credit) will not fulfill the INQS requirement. Students will be required to complete INQS 125 at Linfield.

Students entering Linfield having earned an Associate’s Degree designed for transfer (e.g. AAOT (Oregon), DTA (Washington), or IGETC (California)) will be considered to have met the INQS 125 requirement.

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