Learning Domains

Learning Domains represent an organization of courses around content and teaching methods that may transcend departmental boundaries. Students should be exposed to courses in each of the Learning Domains to insure that they receive an adequate breadth of educational experiences while at the College. The Learning Domains form the foundations of a liberal arts education, much as reading, writing, and arithmetic form the foundation of secondary education.

A student must take seven courses across six Learning Domains as defined below. These seven courses must be from seven different disciplines as distinguished by the first three letters of the course identifier.

Courses that may be used to satisfy each of these Learning Domain requirements are designated by the two-letter code that appears by each Domain title below. These codes also appear in the Schedule of Classes and with course descriptions in the Catalog. Transfer courses may be considered for learning domain credits. Contact the Office of the Registrar for more information.

A. Expressive Arts (EA) one course
Throughout history, humans have used the arts to explore and express ideas and feelings in a uniquely symbolic and expressive way, endowing the arts with qualities that are significantly different from those embodied in other ways of knowing. To understand any culture, a person must be able to grasp, interpret, and respond to its artistic creations and symbols. Given the broad spectrum of cultural production, a study of the expressive arts introduces students to ways of interpreting and understanding art content, as well as understanding the forms through which this content is produced and communicated. Courses in this domain emphasize either the creative process through the making and performing of works of art or the place of such works of art within a particular historical, cultural, or aesthetic context.

B. Historical Perspectives (HP) one course
History is that branch of knowledge that seeks to account for the diverse ways in which human beings in different cultures and societies have all responded to temporal change. Through the examination of contemporary issues from a historical perspective, we gain insight into the richness of human experience and gain insight into our own convictions and actions. Courses in this domain study the development of societies and cultures over time.

C. Literary Studies (LS) one course
Literature has been a central form of expression for many societies. Literature provides a medium through which students gain insight into the minds and lives of other human beings and the process whereby human experience is imaginatively transformed into art. Critical reading/interpretation of a literary text provides understanding into what meanings that text holds, how those meanings are produced, what purposes they serve, and what effects they have. Literary studies also facilitate a student’s ability to articulate responses both orally and in writing.

D. Natural Science Inquiry (NS, NS-L) two courses each from a different department; one course must be a laboratory course.
Science and technology are playing an ever-increasing role in our society. In order to navigate this information students must know and understand how science does and does not work, the application of scientific and mathematical principles, and the distinction between science and dogma. This requires the coupling of basic scientific principles with systematic, critical analysis. Emphasis is on the methods used to model, gather, interpret, and evaluate data critically and the placement of this information into a larger context. In the face of our rapidly evolving understanding of the natural world, application of the scientific method is an enduring skill for assessing the validity of observations related to the natural world. This mode of inquiry inextricably links course content and the analysis process.

E. Social and Behavioral Analysis (SB) one course
Human experience always takes place in the context of larger social forces, organizations, and institutions: families, organizations, communities, governments, and economics. Courses in this domain study the myriad dimensions of human behavior and the human relationships from a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. Through this study we begin to comprehend individual and social life and to develop policies and other means of intervention.

F. Values, Beliefs and Ethics (VA) one course
A perennial feature of humanity is the ability and need to raise fundamental questions about the ultimate meaning of our existence, our common origins and destiny, the nature of reason, and what constitutes a good life. Our efforts to deal with these questions reflect basic values and beliefs that shape our perception of the world, give order and purpose to our existence, and inform our moral judgment. Courses in this domain seek to explore critically and to understand different value and belief systems, to examine commonalities of these systems across historical, philosophical, religious, and/or cultural boundaries, and to introduce ways of making reasoned value judgments.


Learning Domains Learning Goals

Expressive Arts (EA). Either through the creation and performance of works of art or through the study of artistic creations within a context of time, culture, or style, students are able to:

  • Understand and respond to works of art in an informed manner.
  • Recognize the manner in which artistic content communicates ideas and feelings.
  • Comprehend the formal processes which go into the creation of selected works of art.

Historical Perspectives (HP). Upon completion of a course in this learning domain, students are able to:

  • Understand some of the diverse ways in which human beings in different cultures and societies have responded to temporal change.
  • Examine contemporary issues from a historical perspective.
  • Use historical perspective to gain insight into their own convictions and actions.

Literary Studies (LS). Upon completion of a course in this learning domain, students are able to:

  • Engage in the practice of written and oral expression.
  • Read a text critically to determine what meanings it holds, how and why those meanings are produced, and the effects of these choices.
  • Examine how literary works provide insight into the human experience.

Natural Science Inquiry (NS, NS-L). Upon completion of a course with the NS domain code, students are able to:

  • Understand and apply the scientific and mathematical principles of their discipline.
  • Understand the distinction between science and dogma.
  • Use basic scientific principles to place information in a larger context.
  • Understand how science does and does not work.

Upon completion of a course in with the NS-L domain code, students are able to:

  • Use the scientific method to gather, interpret and evaluate data.
  • Employ tools to assess the validity of observations related to the natural world.
  • Join scientific principles with critical analysis in a manner that is appropriate to the discipline.
  • Relate their analysis and conclusions to those of the larger scientific community.

Social and Behavioral Analysis (SB). Upon completion of a course in this learning domain, students are able to:

  • Begin to understand human and social behavior through the use of appropriate disciplinary techniques.
  • Use their understanding of human behavior and relationships to discuss policy and/or other interventions.
  • Grasp how human experience is shaped by the social and institutional landscape.

Values, Beliefs and Ethics (VA). Upon completion of a course in this learning domain, students are able to:

  • Articulate an understanding of different value and belief systems that follows upon critical exploration of those systems.
  • Express the commonalities discovered in value and belief systems that follows upon critical exploration of those systems.
  • Express the commonalities discovered in value and belief systems across historical, philosophical, religious, and/or cultural boundaries.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with ways of making reasoned value judgements.