Liberal Studies Program > About > Learning Domains
Courses in the Arts and Literature domain ask students to extend their knowledge and experience of the arts while developing their critical and reflective abilities. In these courses, students will interpret and analyze particular creative works across different disciplines, investigate the relations of form and meaning, and through critical and/or creative activity come to experience art with greater openness, insight and enjoyment. These courses focus on works of art or literature as such, though the process of analysis may also include social and cultural issues. Work in this domain includes literature, the visual arts, media arts, the performing arts, music and theater. Students are expected to meet their requirements through courses in different disciplines.
Philosophical Inquiry examines the most basic questions of human existence. It considers the fundamental beliefs and convictions that shape what it means to be human, our relationships with others, and the nature of the world itself. Its aim is to develop our critical, imaginative, and analytical abilities, and it enables students to understand various kinds of important intellectual problems from a variety of perspectives and approaches, interpret and assess historical and contemporary texts concerned with these issues, and articulate reasoned judgments about these most basic concerns of human life. Philosophical Inquiry is thus committed to the task of reflecting on the ideas and events that make up the cultures, societies, and traditions within which we live and to enhancing our understanding of their significance and complexity. Courses in Philosophical Inquiry support the mission of the Liberal Studies Program by fostering deeper understanding and appreciation of the worlds of meaning and of value and of the enterprise of intellectual inquiry and social dialogue.
Courses in the Religious Dimensions domain offer students the opportunity to explore the explicitly religious dimensions of life and culture. These dimensions are found in the culturally embedded narratives, beliefs and practices of particular religions, as well as in encounters with realities perceived to be ultimate or sacred. Through myth, symbol, ritual and doctrine, these religions not only provide order and meaning, they also carry capacities to challenge and transform individuals and societies. Intellectual and social maturity requires understanding the unique contributions, both positive and negative, of the religious traditions of the world to culture and consciousness. It also requires coming to terms with questions of ultimacy. This learning domain offers courses with a comparative, thematic or ethical focus, as well as courses in specific traditions.
Courses in the Scientific Inquiry domain are designed to provide students with an opportunity to learn the methods of modern science and its impact on the world around us. Courses are designed to help students develop a more complete perspective about science and the scientific process, including: an understanding of the major principles guiding modern scientific thought; a comprehension of the varying approaches and aspects of science; an appreciation of the connection among the sciences; the fundamental role of mathematics in practicing science; an awareness of the roles and limitations of theories and models in interpreting, understanding, and predicting natural phenomena; and a realization of how these theories and models change or are supplanted as our knowledge increases. Most students will take three courses in this learning domain. The Quantitative Reasoning and Technological Literacy I course (or placement out of the course through the placement tests) is a prerequisite for all courses in this domain. As a general rule, students must take at least one course with a laboratory component, but students are encouraged to consult their advisor or LSP requirement grid (available under the "Courses and Requirements" section) for information specific to their college and major.
Courses in the Social, Cultural, and Behavioral Inquiry domain focus on the mutual impact of society and culture on individuals and of individuals on society and culture. Particular attention is given to human relationships and behavior as they are influenced by social, economic and political institutions, spatial and geographical factors, and the events and social and cultural forces of modernity. This learning domain is concerned with such issues as the role of power and the bases of inequality in society and in international relations. It examines individual cognition, feelings and behavior as they affect the well being of members of society, relationships and collective life. The domain examines the processes of human development and learning and the importance of culture in everyday life. It emphasizes the pursuit of knowledge on such matters through the development of theory and the application of methods of inquiry that draw on the empirical investigation of the modern world. Courses in the domain explore such particular issues as poverty and economic opportunity, the environment, nationalism, racism, individual alienation, gender differences, and the bases of conflict and consensus in complex, urban societies and in global relations.
The Understanding the Past learning domain studies human life in past societies (primarily pre-1945) as a process of continuity and change over time. It includes courses offered in a range of scholarly fields concerned with historical questions—including but not limited to History, Archaeology, Anthropology, Economics, Geography, Literature, and Sociology. Courses in this learning domain are distinguished by their interest in reconstructing the past through the analysis of primary evidence, in critically reflecting on the ways the past has been explained and understood, and in examining the ways human experience is shaped by diverse geographies and chronological periods. Courses in this learning domain are largely offered at the 200-level and without prerequisites, as they are designed to be introductory in content and relatively general in scope. Nonetheless, courses offered at other levels of the undergraduate curriculum will be considered for inclusion in the domain.