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The Linfield Curriculum (General Education Requirements)

The purpose of the general education requirement 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.

The Program for the Liberal Arts and Civic Engagement (PLACE) promotes innovation in liberal arts education and civic engagement through the exploration of thematic connections among modes of thinking and inquiry within the Linfield Curriculum. It has several goals:

  1. To motivate experimentation in liberal education both inside and outside of the classroom.
  2. To promote civic engagement and social enterprise by encouraging students to apply their knowledge and skills at all levels—local, national, and global—within the public domain.
  3. To cultivate an intellectual, interdisciplinary community through the exploration of a single theme from a variety of perspectives.
  4. To create a forum in which to share experiences from faculty, students, and community members and to disseminate this information.

The Linfield Curriculum consists of four major components: (1) the Inquiry Seminar; (2) the Modes of Inquiry; (3) Diversity Studies; and (4) a Writing-Intensive Requirement. Courses contributing to the Linfield Curriculum are normally a minimum of 3 semester-credits. Any single class transferred from outside institutions must be at least 3 semester-credits or 4 quarter-credits. To encourage intellectual breadth, no student may count more than two courses from a single department toward completion of the Modes of Inquiry and Diversity Studies components of the Linfield Curriculum. For the purpose of the LC requirements only, theatre and communication arts are viewed as separate departments.

I. The Inquiry Seminar (INQS 125)

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. ADP students may fulfill this requirement with INQS 126.

The overarching goal of the Inquiry Seminar is to introduce students to the practices of inquiry, which form the foundation for the intellectual communities of the academy and the larger society. We believe this introduction is best accomplished by creating opportunities to conduct real inquiry within the classroom. We also recognize that the Inquiry Seminar is a beginning and that students will continue to develop and refine the skills and habits of inquiry across courses and disciplines during their four years of study. Specifically, the following list summarizes the learning outcomes for all Inquiry Seminars.

  1. Students frame key questions important to their own inquiry and to the understanding of a particular area of knowledge about which there is room for interpretation, ambiguity, and/or debate.
  2. Students discuss, draft, compose, and reconsider answers to such questions in ways appropriate to the field and compelling to an intended audience.
  3. Students engage and incorporate the voices of others to support their own learning and argumentation. In doing so, they will conduct research using library resources cited according to the ethical expectations of their academic community.
  4. Students self-consciously and self-critically reflect on their own ways of thinking.

II. The 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. This Upper-Division course must be at the 300-level or above, it must be in one of the Six Modes of Inquiry (Creative Studies; Individuals, Systems, and Societies; Natural World; Quantitative Reasoning; Ultimate Questions; and Vital Past), and it must be a course from outside the student’s major department. In the case of a student with multiple majors, the Upper-Division course must be from outside one of the major departments. In other words, it may not be a course which satisfies the requirements of both majors. In the case of interdisciplinary majors, the Upper- Division course must be from outside the student’s field of study.

To satisfy the requirement for each Mode of Inquiry and the Upper-Division course, a student must demonstrate meeting the learning objectives of that mode by choosing an assignment, or collection of assignments, to post in an online repository. The choice of these exemplars must be supported with a paragraph description. These exemplars must be posted by the last day of finals of the semester the course is taken. For the case in which a course satisfies multiple LC designations, a student may initially choose to submit exemplars and support for multiple designations; however, the student must eventually select the designation for which the course is to count and submit exemplars and support from different courses for the other LC designations. Students can receive credit for only one LC designation per 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. Creative Studies courses are designated CS in this catalog and each semester’s registration materials.

Learning Outcomes

In courses with CS designation, students will do the following:

  1. Explore the media, genre, craft and presentation of art.
  2. Investigate the complexity of defining and interpreting art.
  3. Examine the contexts and influences of art.
  4. Practice the improvisational and technical processes of art.

Courses with CS designation address the first learning outcome. In addition, they address at least one of the remaining three.

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. Individuals, Systems, and Societies courses are designated IS in this catalog and each semester’s registration materials.

Learning Outcomes

Courses with IS designation are intended to provide students with opportunities to do the following:

  1. Understand individual, systemic, and/or social processes.
  2. Analyze individuals, systems, and/or societies through multiple frames of reference.
  3. Think critically about the ways that society affects individual behavior and/or individual behavior affects society.
  4. Articulate how key theoretical principles can be used to explain individual and social processes, inform public policy and/or develop practical approaches to human problems across local, regional, and/or global contexts.

Courses with IS designation address one or more of the above learning outcomes. Those courses meeting only one address the learning outcome in greater depth.

C. Natural World (NW)

Courses in this area 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. Natural World courses are designated NW in this catalog and each semester’s registration materials.

Learning Outcomes

Courses with NW designation are intended to help students understand the scientific method. In particular, students must demonstrate:

  1. An understanding of the theoretical and/or experimental background of a particular topic or model, sufficient to form a hypothesis.
  2. An ability to critically analyze results of scientific inquiry in light of assumptions.
  3. An understanding of how scientific results can be extended to more general situations in contemporary society.

Courses with NW designation address all of the above learning outcomes.

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. Quantitative Reasoning courses are designated QR in this catalog and each semester’s registration materials.

Learning Outcomes

Courses with QR designation are designed to develop the student’s ability to do the following:

  1. Frame contextual questions using mathematical representation.
  2. Apply models to deduce consequences or make predictions.
  3. Communicate quantitative arguments using clear prose.
  4. Critique quantitative arguments with respect to assumptions, constraints, and logical coherence.

Courses with QR designation address all of the above learning outcomes.

E. Ultimate Questions (UQ)

Courses with this designation are designed to encourage students to articulate and evaluate core assumptions and the paradigms through which knowledge is acquired and assessed. Such courses engage in a critical analysis of fundamental beliefs, cultural practices, and competing truth claims with the aim to appreciate and negotiate ambiguity and to develop greater self knowledge and wisdom as evidenced in the ability for meaningful dialogue, and awareness of social responsibility and understanding. While this mode of inquiry strongly emphasizes an assessment of cognitive systems and symbols, such courses also explore the metaphors, cultural language, and normative assumptions present in core questions, which culminate in examined insights into our actions and ways of belonging in communities, whether secular or religious. Ultimate Questions courses are designated UQ in this catalog and each semester’s registration materials.

Learning Outcomes

In courses with UQ designation, students will learn and demonstrate growth from among the following:

  1. Articulating and evaluating core assumptions and paradigms through which knowledge is acquired and assessed.
  2. Engaging ambiguity through a critical analysis of fundamental beliefs, cultural practices, and competing truth claims.
  3. Developing greater self-knowledge and wisdom, as evidenced in the ability for meaningful dialogue, and awareness of social responsibility and understanding.
  4. Articulating and engaging core questions that lead to examined insights into our actions and ways of belonging in communities, whether secular or religious.

Recognizing that other modes of inquiry engage many of these issues, in an Ultimate Questions course, these topics and method lie at the center of the inquiry rather than arising as implications drawn from work in other modes of inquiry.

All courses with UQ designation address the first learning outcome. In addition, they address at least one of the remaining three.

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. Vital Past courses are designated VP in this catalog and each semester’s registration materials.

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete a course with VP designation should do the following:

  1. Identify, analyze, and contextualize primary sources.
  2. Identify and critique secondary, scholarly arguments about the past.
  3. Develop and defend an analytical or interpretive argument about the past.
  4. Recognize that differences separate people past and present, though all people share a common humanity.
  5. Evaluate the reliability of evidence about the past.

Courses with VP designation will fulfill many, but not necessarily all, of the learning outcomes.

III. Diversity Studies

An escalating interconnectedness marks the society into which Linfield students will graduate. Within our own national borders, heightened sensitivity to the diversity of perspectives, experiences, and aspirations that shape U.S. culture grounds the successful operations of democracy and facilitates the exercise of effective citizenship. The emergence of women into every phase of public life has also accelerated the pace of cultural change. These developments challenge all learners to seek new sources of knowledge and question established views on what constitutes knowledge.

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 which address facets of cultural diversity such as gender, race, national or geopolitical allegiance, religion, sexual orientation, and cultural mores. One of the two required courses must address Global Pluralisms (GP), and one must explore U.S. Pluralisms (US). This requirement applies to all students regardless of citizenship. It is not met by classes in modern language instruction, though upper division culture classes offered by the Modern Languages Department may satisfy Global Pluralisms. Courses in Diversity Studies may, but are not mandated to, belong to any of the Modes of Inquiry. Students may propose experiential learning projects to satisfy half of this requirement; such projects must receive prior approval from the Curriculum Committee.

To satisfy the requirement for each diversity designation (GP, US), a student must demonstrate meeting the learning objectives of that designation by choosing an assignment, or collection of assignments, to post in an online repository. In the case of an experiential learning opportunity, the exemplar will be a summary report. The choice of these exemplars must be supported with a paragraph description. These exemplars must be posted by the last day of finals of the semester the course is taken. For the case in which a course satisfies multiple designations, the student may submit exemplars and support for multiple designations; however, the student must choose the designation for which the course is to count and will receive credit only for that single designation.

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, and/or policy discourses of other countries from a global perspective. These courses also include a consideration of multicultural perspectives within other countries. Curricular offerings focusing on the history or culture of a given nation, group, or region may meet this requirement by including a comparative component for the course. This focus may include comparisons between or among countries, as well as comparisons of different time periods. Through the process of examining Global Pluralisms, students prepare for their participation and citizenship in an increasingly diverse world. Global Pluralisms courses are designated GP in this catalog and in each semester’s registration materials.

Learning Outcomes

In courses with GP designation, students will have opportunities to do the following:

  1. Develop an understanding of a people outside the US from a disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspective.
  2. From one or more disciplinary perspectives, articulate and analyze the power relations (e.g., imperialism, colonialism, political or cultural hegemony, or marginalization) between two or more nations or groups of people.
  3. Examine the impact of global interdependence on the lives of individuals.

Courses with GP designation address at least one of the above learning outcomes.

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, ability, ethnicity, gender, language, politics, race, religion, sexual orientation, identity, and/or social class. These courses examine how the dominant traditions of U.S. culture have marginalized the voices of those who have typically fallen outside those traditions, using analytical frameworks, or discussion that addresses the social, economic, political, ethical, cultural, aesthetic, philosophical, and/ or policy discourses among those groups. Through the process of examining U.S. Pluralisms, students prepare for their participation and citizenship in an increasingly diverse society. U.S. Pluralism courses are designated US in this catalog and each semester’s registration materials.

Learning Outcomes

In courses with US designation, students will have opportunities to do the following:

  1. Identify and articulate the context of pluralism within the United States, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual orientation, identity, language, age, ability, religion, and/or social class.
  2. Analyze the historical, cultural, and/or aesthetic construction of marginality through a theoretical lens appropriate to the course content and discipline.
  3. Develop and defend an analytical or interpretive argument about social, cultural, political, and/or economic injustices, including but not limited to issues of power, social justice, privilege, and citizenship.

Courses with US designation must address the first learning outcome and at least one of the other two.

Writing-Intensive Course(s) in the Major (MWI)

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.

The Inquiry Seminar introduces students to the practices of inquiry, which form the foundation for the intellectual communities of the academy and the larger society. The Linfield Curriculum continues this process within various modes of inquiry. The overarching goal of Major Writing Intensive courses is to further develop the student’s ability to conduct inquiry within the various majors at the college—recognizing the importance of the writing process to the process of inquiry—and express the results of that inquiry in disciplinarily appropriate writing.

Therefore, courses designated as MWI pay explicit attention to writing and writing instruction while engaging students in all phases of the writing process. Furthermore, writing assignments are a significant portion of the course work and the course grade. In MWI courses:

  1. Students frame key questions important to the understanding of their discipline.
  2. Students answer such questions in writing appropriate to the conventions of their discipline and compelling to an intended audience.
  3. Students develop or further refine an iterative writing process that includes prewriting activities (e.g. discussion, research, literature review) drafting, revising and editing, and that is appropriate for their chosen discipline.
  4. Students receive significant instruction and feedback helping them in the various steps of this process.