Core Competencies

The purpose of the core curriculum is to establish a foundation for the undergraduate academic experience and to ensure that students develop fundamental skills and a lifelong commitment and ability to learn. All courses stress active learning, reading and writing, and critical thinking. In addition, all courses are aimed at one or more of ten basic competencies.

Aesthetic Experience:

This competency includes knowledge about different art forms and their history; an understanding of how creative processes compare among art forms; and the ability to describe and analyze artistic works.

Critical Thinking:

Critical thinking requires the ability to analyze data, synthesize information, make decisions, and systematically and imaginatively solve problems. All core courses stress critical thinking, providing practice in the techniques of inquiry, logical reasoning, and critical analysis.

Ethical and Moral Consciousness:

Competency in this area involves the ability to recognize ethical and moral issues that may arise from scientific and technological developments or that may be inferred from aesthetic and humanistic works.

Historical Consciousness:

Historical consciousness requires the knowledge of the main stages of human cultural development, along with the ability to relate one’s historical heritage to that of other cultures, past and present. This competency involves understanding historical events, whether social, economic, or political, and then examining the relationships among them-relationships such as change, continuity, and causation.

Information Technology:

Competency requires using contemporary technologies to communicate effectively; to locate, manage and analyze information; to critically evaluate information obtained through these technologies; to comprehend basic information technology concepts in order to understand and quickly assimilate new technologies as they evolve; and to have an understanding of and respect for the ethical and legal aspects of the use of information technology.

International Awareness:

The international awareness competency involves the ability to examine one’s own culture, society, and nationality from perspectives acquired through understanding other cultures and nations, including their languages, literature, art, history, and geography.


Competency in mathematics includes an understanding of the concepts, the methodology, and the application of probability and statistics; the ability to use and interpret functions and graphs to express relationships; an appreciation of the importance of numerical information; and a recognition of both the role and the limitations of mathematics in all areas.

Philosophy and Methods of Science:

Competency in the philosophy and methods of science involves understanding the strengths and limitations of science, including how scientists learn about the world through observation and experiment, through modeling and interpretation, and through the skeptical scrutiny of the work of other experts in the field. This competency includes the following: an awareness of relationships between science and society; the ability to use scientific reasoning to evaluate conflicting statements in order to arrive at informed opinions on contemporary issues; an appreciation of how experiencing the universe scientifically differs from experiencing it in other ways; and knowledge of the questions that science neither asks nor answers.

Social and Cultural Awareness:

Social and cultural awareness requires viewing human beings as organisms functioning within a set of global, interconnected systems, including nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, class, law, religion, and communication-that influence and are influenced by changing individuals. This competency includes knowledge about how persons develop and grow; awareness of how social and cultural systems influence values, thought, and behavior; and appreciation for the interactions, conflicts, and communication among systems.

Verbal Literacy:

Verbal literacy includes four skills: writing, reading, speaking, and listening and the ability to use language to learn and participate in the discourse and decision-making of academic, personal, professional, and public life. Competency in written literacy involves the ability to read and write clearly and thoughtfully; to understand different writing and reading processes; and to use these processes to advantage when writing and reading about experiences and ideas. Competency in oral literacy involves public speaking and interpersonal and small group communication. All core courses address this competency.