Saint Louis University

Components of the Core Curriculum

1. Foundations of Discourse

Purpose: Fundamental to academic and professional success is the ability to communicate ideas clearly, accurately, and in an engaging way. The Core writing component enhances students' capacity to organize, to analyze, to interpret, and to argue persuasively and ethically. The writing component enables students to produce work of increasing complexity for multiple audiences.

Student Outcomes: Students will be able to think, read, and write analytically, critically, and creatively. They will be able to express ideas coherently, to work with a variety of research methods, and to construct effective arguments using appropriate evidence.

2. Philosophy

Purpose: A key element in Catholic and Jesuit education, philosophy provides a rational and critical way of examining fundamental, enduring questions about the human condition. These questions include the relationship of self and society and the foundations of sciences, aesthetics, and religion, especially the existence and nature of the divine. Philosophy assists students to examine critically their ethical convictions by exploring the best rational justifications for ethics given in Western philosophy. Thus, Core philosophy courses prepare students to approach critically and rationally the problems of the self, society, God, and ethical life.

Student Outcomes: Students will acquire a basic understanding of some of the foundational texts in philosophical thought. They should be able to think independently and creatively about questions relating to humanity, to evaluate and to formulate philosophical arguments, and to understand the possible rational justifications for their beliefs.

3. Theological Studies

Purpose: Growth in theological understanding is rooted in the mission of Saint Louis University as a Catholic, Jesuit institution. The Theological Studies component promotes this growth in three phases:

  1. Discovery: Students are introduced to the Hebrew and Christian scriptures from historical and literary perspectives, to fundamental theological concepts, and to the early history of Christianity.
  2. Insight: Phase 2 focuses on comparative theology (the search for truth and meaning in the major world religions) and broadens understanding of universal as well as specific theological concepts.
  3. Integration: Students learn to apply essential religious and theological insights to specific social and cultural contexts, moral choices, professional and personal lifestyles, and global realities.

Student Outcomes: Students will acquire the capacity for critical, informed, and creative theological inquiry as a means of deepening their understanding of theological concepts and the human condition. Their study of theology will lead them to examine their own religious experience and to apply theological thought to their personal and professional lives in the service of humanity.

4. World History

Purpose: In an increasingly interconnected society, it is important for students to understand the range of human history in all areas of the world. The History component of the Core provides students with an introduction to the political, religious, cultural, economic, and social forces that have shaped the modern world from the origins of humanity to the present. These classes help students develop an understanding of historical causation and expose them to the accomplishments of both Western and non-Western civilizations. By encouraging better appreciation of the factors that created our present society, the History component of the Core enables students to be more effective world citizens.

Student Outcomes: Students will develop an understanding of the historical factors that created and continue to shape the modern world. They will also come to appreciate the world's many diverse cultures and important contributions they have made. Students should be able to understand how seemingly discrete events are linked over time, and they should learn to read carefully and analyze critically.

5. Modern and Classical Languages

Purpose: The Modern and Classical Language component provides students with a level of proficiency in a second language sufficient to insure successful communication in the cultural environment of the chosen language. Integral to the acquisition of communicative competency is the development of cultural sensitivity to different patterns of thought and values. Study of a second language enhances analytical skills, broadens one's vision of the global dimensions of knowledge, and helps foster respect for the value and diversity of human life. The language component can enhance the major field of study and cross-disciplinary inquiry by providing access to information and ideas otherwise unavailable.

Student Outcomes: Students choosing a modern language will demonstrate the ability to handle communicative tasks and to express personal meaning in the second language at a level equivalent to "Intermediate" as described in the language proficiency guidelines of the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Language (ACTFL). Students will also show an understanding and an awareness of cultural differences.

Students opting for a classical language will demonstrate an ability to understand texts of intermediate difficulty in the chosen language.

6. Literature

Purpose: The study of literature is a key element in understanding the imagination and the different ways reality can be perceived. The literature component of the Core promotes an appreciation of the text as a creative act and an expression of the human search for meaning. Students are introduced to various methods of interpreting texts that can also enhance inquiry in other fields.

Student Outcomes: Students will attain an understanding of the power of language to shape ideas, values, and the ways men and women are defined. Using critical methods and theories of interpretation, students will be able to analyze and evaluate different cultural, ethical, and aesthetic dimensions of writing and literature.

7. Fine Arts

Purpose: The arts reflect and engage the world around us. They feed the imagination and provide a unique opportunity to study humanity, aesthetics, and cultural values. Through courses in art history, studio art, music, or theater, students learn to observe critically, to think creatively, and to appreciate different modes of self-expression and cultural expression.

Student Outcomes: Students will be able to identify creative expression and to recognize how art reflects and challenges cultural values. They will demonstrate the ability to evaluate artistic accomplishments.

8. Mathematics

Purpose: The mathematics Core component promotes proficiency in methods of thought that are inherent to mathematics. These methods include pattern recognition, symbolic abstraction and manipulation, logical and critical analysis, and synthesis. This component helps students develop an appreciation for mathematical modes of thought, a notion of what mathematical skills entail, the development of some of these skills, and a sense of how mathematical methods can be brought to bear in other fields of study.

Student Outcomes: Students will begin to achieve an understanding of mathematics not simply as a collection of memorized formulas and techniques, but also as a logically developed structure whose abstract methods of problem solving have real-life applications. Students will be able to solve mathematical problems and comprehend the logic underlying the solutions.

9. Natural Sciences

Purpose: Scientific inquiry provides a unique way of exploring, knowing, and creating. Courses in science encourage students to think critically about how they can better understand the world around them. These courses help students attain conceptual tools and methodologies to gather, analyze, interpret, understand, and present an array of data. Through the science component of the Core, students develop an understanding of how science benefits and impacts society, empowering them to become active participants in an increasingly complex world.

Student Outcomes: Students will be able to understand and engage in the process of scientific inquiry. They will become familiar with methodological approaches that enable natural scientists to evaluate and solve problems effectively. Students will also appreciate how the scientific process combines technical and creative aspects and depends on the cooperation and interaction of scientists with each other.

10. Social Sciences

Purpose: As future leaders in a complex and inter-related society, students need to understand the human and social world around them. Social science courses promote this understanding by providing knowledge and methodologies that help students examine the foundations of human behavior and the origins and consequences of social institutions. Tools of systematic social inquiry introduced in these classes enable students to construct and critically assess claims about social life and to become more effective and ethical problem solvers. Social science courses help students appreciate how their personal and professional actions can accommodate the world's diversity and promote a more peaceful and just society at all levels of citizenship.

Student Outcomes: Students will acquire conceptual tools and methodologies to analyze and understand their social world. With these tools, they will be able to act in their world more effectively and become forces for positive change. They will gain a better understanding of human diversity. Students will be able to think and write critically about human behavior and community. They will become aware of the various methodological approaches used by social scientists.

11. Cultural Diversity

The Core Curriculum Cultural Diversity component is addressed by two courses: one in "Cultural Diversity in the U.S." and one in "Global Citizenship." For the Purpose and Student Outcomes of each of these courses, please consult the Revised Cultural Diversity Requirement (effective for incoming Freshmen in Fall 2011).


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