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The Undergraduate Core Curriculum: Living Responsibly in an Interdependent World

The undergraduate core curriculum at Marywood University contributes to the University’s mission and goals. Its central focus is to provide a foundation for “living responsibly in a diverse and interdependent world,” a central goal of the University's Mission Statement. In offering our Core Curriculum, the University fulfills its historic mission as a Catholic university and affirms its commitment to the Liberal Arts tradition.

The Core Curriculum thus helps students think critically, examine values carefully, and act responsibly; it challenges students to engage in civic responsibility in terms of social justice, unmet human needs, and empowerment of others; and it provides a context within which students can realize meaningful personal and professional lives.

To create an environment in which students can develop into fully human persons, Marywood University integrates professional programs with a general education curriculum composed of a strong liberal arts core, general electives, and competen­cies. Each component contributes an essential perspective to the central focus of the curriculum.

The Liberal Arts core is organized into six categories:

Category I, The First Year Experience includes UNIV 100 The New Student Seminar and ENGL 160 Composition and Rhetoric. The New Student Seminar is intended to introduce students to the University’s life, culture, mission, history, traditions and focus on living responsibly in an interdependent world in addition to promoting a positive adjustment and assimilation into the University. Composition and Rhetoric (English 160) helps prepare students for college level, process-based academic writing. While teaching students to write well in various contexts is an ongoing process, ENGL 160 lays strong foundations for argumentative and inquiry-based writing by increasing rhetorical awareness and analytical skills. Through guided practice, students gain experience in using research to join ongoing academic conversations.

Category II, The Human Condition in Its Ultimate Relationships, enables students to examine the nature, purpose, and meaning of life through philosophical and religious lenses that help them to evaluate their own life position and choices. They develop their critical thinking skills, explore the religious dimen­sion of life, and experience the free and responsible pursuit of truth, as they examine the ultimate questions that have always engaged human beings. Studies in this cate­gory supply students with a theoretical basis and a cognitive process for making ethical decisions in promoting justice, peace, and compassion in the contemporary world.

Category III, The Human Condition in the Context of the Physical Universe, is vital for fulfilling the central focus of the core. Many urgent concerns of the interdependent world are scientifically and technologi­cally based and require knowledge and analytical skills for effective response. This Category promotes an appreciation of the natural sciences and an aware­ness of our dependence upon nature and a sense of stewardship in fostering the earth’s resources.

Category IV, The Human Condition in Relation to Self and Social Structure, likewise provides students essential preparation for living responsibly in an interdependent world. 

The Social Sciences – including Psychology, Economics, Sociology, Political Science, Anthropology, and Criminology, among others – provide students with opportu­nities to understand more fully the complex relations between individuals and the social order in which they find themselves.

Courses in Category V, The Human Condition in its Cultural Context, heighten students’ sensitivity to human concerns and to the chal­lenges and delights shared by persons of diverse cultures and historical periods. They foster aesthetic appreciation and the ability to communicate effectively within and outside one’s own cultural group. They provide access to understanding of our partners in interdependence.

Category VI, The Human Condition in its Historical Context, provides historical contexts that enable students to think more critically and creatively about the diverse and interdependent world in which they live. Knowledge of past and contemporary societies promotes recognition of the radical interdependence of human beings and helps students respond to contemporary challenges with well-­informed effectiveness.

Finally, The Human Condition in a Global Context, provides explicit opportunities for students to undertake cross-cultural comparative studies, either historical or contemporary, in order best to foster an awareness and appreciation of the pluralistic nature of contemporary society. This category has the potential to overlap and connect to all of the other categories, and it is the one category in which courses that fulfill requirements in one of the other categories may also be applied.

The total undergraduate curriculum promotes lifelong independent learning and fosters the development of creative and responsive leadership in personal and profes­sional life. It is hoped that, as a result of their studies, students will be able to fulfill the mission of the University, learning to live responsibly in this interdependent world.

As a result of their courses in the core curriculum, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an awareness of and respect for the religious, spiritual, and moral dimensions of life;
  2. Develop a critical awareness of the whole self, as well as an understanding of the complexities of human persons in diverse historical and social contexts;
  3. Develop and evaluate thinking through quantitative, qualitative, and scientific reasoning; problem solving; and research;
  4. Respond justly and with empathy to social inequity – local, regional and global;
  5. Demonstrate effective communication skills, including skills in a second language at an appropriate level;
  6. Develop an aesthetic appreciation and critical understanding of the visual and performing arts and their cultural importance.