- Majors, Options, and Minors
- Senate Policies Concerning Majors, Options, and Minors
- Senate Policies and Procedures Concerning Courses
- Course Credits
- Course Numbers
- Crosslisted Courses
- Teaching of Existing Courses in Colleges in Which They Have Not Been Taught
- Definition of a 400-Level Course
- Five-Year Automatic Drop Policy
- Full-and Half-Semester Courses
- Honors (H) Courses
- Research (R) Grades
- Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (SA/UN) Grading
- Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements
- First-Year Seminars/First-Year Engagement
- General Education
- United States Cultures (US) and International Cultures (IL) Requirements
- Writing Across the Curriculum
A. Majors, Options, and Minors
The addition of a major, option, IUG, or minor to the University curriculum requires academic and administrative approval.
The first step in the process is the completion of the Administrative Council on Undergraduate Education (ACUE) Curricular Programs Prospectus. A prospectus must be completed to change the name or discontinue offering a major, option, IUG, or minor. A P-1 prospectus is completed/submitted for new major, options, IUGs, or minors. A P-2 is completed/submitted to update a current major, option, IUG, or minor. A P-3 is completed/submitted to move/share/discontinue majors, options, IUGs, or minors at different locations. A P-4 is completed/submitted to drop majors, options, IUGs, or minors. And a M-12 is submitted for undergraduate certificates. Once the ACUE memo indicating approval is obtained, the department may initiate the program proposal form in the Curriculum Review and Consultation System (www.curriculum.psu.edu) ; the ACUE memo must be included in the program proposal submission to the senate office.
Proposals to add, change, or drop majors/options/IUGs/minors are initiated by completing the SCCA Major, Option, or Minor Proposal Form. It is important to note before new majors, options, IUGs, or minors, or changes in existing ones can be approved by the SCCA, all required courses need to be approved. If new courses or changes in existing ones are being proposed as a part of this package, those proposals need to be included with the package. A Costing Analysis Form must be submitted with the proposal to add a new major, add an option to an existing major, or add a new minor.
The preparation of the proposal should include a review of similar and related programs already offered across the University. The proposing unit must address the question of whether this major, option, or minor will be offered by other colleges. If the answer to this question is yes, consultation with faculty in the appropriate Penn State colleges should be sought and documented in the proposal.
If a Penn State college wishes to include an existing course in a program which it plans to offer, and this course has not been taught within the college, or in the University College at a particular campus, the following guidelines apply. The dean of the college in which the program is being developed should request from the unit in which the course was originally created the necessary course and faculty information. The process of consultation should be documented as part of the new program proposal.
All course and program proposals appearing on the Senate Curriculum Report are kept on file in the Senate Office for four years after the publication. Original proposals are then forwarded to the University Archives at Paterno Library, University Park.
All proposals are reviewed, approved, or rejected by SCCA. All major/option/minor proposals will receive a “full” review with the exception of the following:
(1) Changes in requirements for a major in response to a name and/or number change with no substantive content change.
(2) Changes in requirements for a major in response to another curricular change where there is some actual change in content. (Example: A program changes the content of an introductory course, so all other majors requiring the content of the old course may have to reevaluate the prerequisites.)
(3) Addition or deletion of a course to a selection list for a major due to changes previously approved. These proposals should include a letter of consultation from the relevant department.
(4) The addition or deletion of a course to an existing supporting course list (i.e., courses that are not published in the program description) does not require approval by or notification to SCCA. Departments should notify the Registrar’s office with updates to these lists for inclusion in the Degree Audit.
(5) Changes to the description of a major/minor/option. (Examples: a program description changes to include revised program objectives based on an assessment or accreditation review.) SCCA reserves the right to request a full review if the changes are deemed substantive.
In addition to SCCA approval, administrative approval is required (the provisions of Academic Administrative Policy P-1 should be followed) when adding new majors/options/minors, when dropping majors/options/minors, and when changing the name of a major/option/minor. This step includes costing by the Office of Budget and Resource Analysis (for new majors/options/minors), approval by the Executive Vice President and Provost, and review, as an informational item, by the Board of Trustees. Only after the approval of the Executive Vice President and Provost may these proposals be implemented and published in the Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin.
If a college wishes to offer an SCCA-approved academic program (major, option, minor) which it has not offered before, this needs to be authorized by the Provost (the provisions of Academic Administrative Policy P-3 should be followed).
Proposals to change requirements of majors, options, or minors approved by SCCA, and that do not require administrative approval, may be implemented. If the major, option, or minor is offered in several colleges, a joint proposal should be submitted. The implementation date may be the first semester following approval, if students are properly informed of these changes; otherwise, students are held to what appears in the Bulletin when the student matriculated. Archived program descriptions are available in the Web Bulletin. These archived descriptions can be found by College under the listing of Majors and Minors. The implementation date will be the same for all colleges offering the changed major, option or minor.
Diplomas show the name of the major, the degree received, and the name of the college granting the degree. Transcripts show the name of the major, the degree received, and option, minor, and certificate, where appropriate.
The General Education Component of the Baccalaureate degree consists of 45 credits, which may include one credit of a First-Year Seminar. Colleges or departments that require First-Year Seminars for more than one credit and that propose a course that cannot be completed within the 45 credits of General Education need to account clearly for the additional credits in their academic programs under the categories of College or Major Requirements.
Major, Option, and Minor program codes (often considered program acronyms) are assigned by the Registrar’s Office. The change in a program name does not guarantee a change to the code.
1. New Majors
A major is a plan of study in a field of concentration within a type of baccalaureate degree. Colleges and other degree-granting units may have common requirements for all of their majors. Each major may have requirements identified in the following categories: Prescribed Courses , Additional Courses , and Supporting Courses and Related Areas . (SR:1/23/90, Appendix IV)
After receiving feedback on the ACUE prospectus, the proposal can be prepared. Guidelines for preparing the proposal are outlined below and on the Major, Option, or Minor Proposal Form. A Costing Analysis Form must be submitted with the proposal to add a new major, add an option to an existing major, or add a new minor. If more restrictive academic requirements, than those approved by the Senate, are needed for entrance or retention in the program, a Retention and Transfer Proposal Form (PDF) must be completed as well.
The proposal must be presented in the following format for new majors, options, and minors:
- Provide a complete set of requirements in the Bulletinformat (see program description outline (PDF).
Include a description limited to about 200 words or approximately 15 lines. If there are options (or additional special features, e.g., dual degree programs, cooperative programs such as work study), the description should be limited to an additional 75 words per option. The description should contain objective language, not generalized, colorful, or vague statements that might be ambiguous or misleading. The description should cover the following items:
- a statement of objectives that describes learning outcomes for the major;
- fields of study within the major, emphasizing any unique aspects or facilities specifically related to this major;
- requirements and recommendations or limitations regarding competencies, skills, or abilities needed for admission, retention, transfer, and graduation; and
- if space remains, a general statement about subsequent academic or professional work possible in the field.
- Provide a complete set of requirements in the Bulletinformat (see program description outline (PDF).
Include total number of credits required for graduation.
Include an arrangement of courses along with the recommended scheduling pattern.
- For baccalaureate majors, indicate a minimum of 15 credits in the major that require a grade of C or better, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.
- Provide a list of new courses to be established as part of the new offering.
- Provide a list of changed or dropped courses.
- In instances where a requirement is selected from a department list, or area, include a copy of the list of courses that are acceptable for meeting the requirement.
- Provide an explanation of how the proposal meets the educational objectives and/or strengthens existing programs of the college(s) and the University, and indicate what students may expect to accomplish through the new program.
All or part of this information will be published in the Board of Trustees agenda.
- Provide a justification statement that explains how the proposal fits within the strategic planning goals of the college.
- Provide a statement of consultation with affected units.
2. New Options
An option is a specialization within a major that involves at least one-third of the course credits required for the major, but need not be more than 18 credits. All options within a major must have in common at least one-fourth of the total required course credits in the major. A student can only be enrolled in an option within his/her own major. (SR:1/23/90; Appendix IV)
A major with options must include a minimum of two options. All options in the major must have a common General Education component (45 credits) and a Common Requirements for the Major (All Options) component. The Common Requirements for the Major (All Options) must include at least one-fourth of the total required credits for the major. The requirements may include the three categories Prescribed, Additional, and Supporting Courses and Related Areas, or any combination of the three.
A Costing Analysis Form must be submitted for each option.
3. New Minors
A minor is defined as a supplemental academic program of at least 18 credits. A minor program may consist of course work in a single area or from several disciplines, with at least six but ordinarily not more than half of the credits at the 400-course level. Total requirements are to be specified, and generally limited to 18 to 21 credits. Any program proposing a new minor or changing an existing minor such that more than 21 total credits will be required or more than half of the requirements will be at the 400 level must include a written justification explaining why the requirements for the minor must exceed the generally accepted parameters for a minor. Entrance to some minors may require the completion of a number of prerequisite courses that are not included in the total requirements for the minor; the potential need for completion of additional prerequisites to successfully complete the minor should be noted in the description of the minor. Grade requirements for the minor shall consist of ‘C’ or above for all courses required for the minor. (SR:6/2/81; Appendix. IV)
If a minor is sponsored by one academic unit, it would consist of course work in that single area. If a minor has an interdisciplinary focus and is sponsored by a program committee composed of faculty from several departments, it would include course work from several discipline areas. All minors are identified in the Bulletin with a general description prepared in accordance with the guidelines. Requirements for a minor may include the three categories, Prescribed, Additional, or Supporting Courses and Related Areas, or any combination of the three.
The qualitative standards of a minor and the method of communicating to students the University’s academic expectations are as follows: “Departmental grade requirements for the minor shall conform at least with the minimum requirements for the major. In the case of minor programs where there is no corresponding major, minimum requirements for the minor must be established following the normal procedures for curriculum approval.” (SR:4/26/88)
The Academic Administrative Policy L-6 gives a detailed explanation of admission and certification procedures. A student’s academic transcript will record the successful completion of the minor at the time of baccalaureate graduation. A Costing Analysis form should be included.
4. Changes in Majors, Options, and Minors
Guidelines for preparing the proposal are outlined below and are available with the Major, Option, or Minor Proposal Form. As part of the revision request, the unit making the request must demonstrate that other Penn State colleges offering the major, minor, or option have been involved in the revision process. If more restrictive academic requirements, than those approved by the Senate, are needed for entrance or retention in the program, a Retention and Transfer Proposal Form (PDF) must be completed as well.
A Costing Analysis form should be included.
The proposal must be presented in the following format for changes in majors, options, and minors:
- The section that is being revised must be shown as it currently appears in the Bulletin (or most recent revision).
- Provide a list of newly created courses; a list of current courses, which are being added to the program; a list of changed courses; and a list of courses that will be removed from the program.
- In instances where a requirement is selected from a department list, or area, include a list of courses that are acceptable for meeting that requirement.
- Provide a justification statement that explains the reason for each of the changes. An estimate of expected enrollment and effects, if any, on existing programs should be addressed. Course changes necessitated by the program revision should be submitted simultaneously with the program proposal.
- Documentation of the necessary consultation.
5. Dropping of Majors, Options, and Minors
Majors–To drop a major (i.e., phase-out all University offerings) both Senate and administrative approval is required. A proposal must be submitted following the procedures outlined in Academic Administrative Policy P-4.
The approval process requires submission of a Major, Option, or Minor Proposal Form. If the Major, Option, IUG, or Minor is offered within several colleges, a joint proposal should be prepared by the colleges. The proposal goes to the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education and to the University Curriculum Coordinator at the Senate Office.
The approval process is (a) proposal originates in the offering unit(s); (b) is approved by Dean(s)/Chancellor(s) and for non-University Park campuses the Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses; (c) forwarded to the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education, for recommendation on behalf of the Provost, who transmits the request to the Senate Chair, (d) the Senate Chair seeks input from appropriate Senate committees prior to review and recommendation by Senate Council (at this time the proposal is listed on the Senate Curriculum Report); (e) the Senate Chair reports the recommendation of Senate Council to the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education; (f) the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education acts on the request; (g) the Provost, via the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education, informs the President, the Board of Trustees, the College Dean(s)/Chancellor(s),the Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses, and the Senate Executive Secretary when the decision is made to drop and phase out a program. In no case should students be informed of a defacto closing prior to Provost’s approval.
The supporting documentation in the proposal should include evidence that consideration has been given to the following:
- Students–admissions/entrance, advising, academic outcomes
Enrollment data–5-year actual enrollments
Planned date to stop offering students entrance to program, planned date to stop offering required courses, planned date for Registrar to stop awarding degrees
Students currently in program need to be given reasonable options for completing the program or enrolling in alternative programs
- Tenured and untenured faculty–availability, notification, and consultation
- consultation with personnel responsible for other academic programs, their concurrence, or objections and how they have been addressed
- consultation with appropriate organizational support units of the University, their concurrence, or objections and how they have been addressed
Options and Minors–To drop an option or minor, submit the Major, Option, or Minor Proposal Form to the University Curriculum Coordinator at the Senate Office. The proposal must include a justification statement that explains the reasons for dropping the option or minor. If the Option or Minor is offered by several colleges a joint proposal should be prepared.
B. Senate Policies Concerning Majors, Options, and Minors
Certificates are issued in the name of the University for the successful completion of a degree program or a baccalaureate minor. The certificate to be awarded will be of standard format and will be provided by the Office of the University Registrar.
Transcripts will include a notation that a certificate was issued, where appropriate.
2. Consultation with Adviser Statement
Effective with the 1982-83 University Baccalaureate and Associate Degree Bulletins (currently called the Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin), the reference to “approval of the adviser” was reworded to read either “consultation with the adviser” or “departmental approval.” The change is consistent with Senate legislation regarding the role of the adviser. (SR:5/5/81; see also, Senate Policy 34-27)
3. 400-Level Credits Required in a Major
SCCA urges the faculty of the academic unit to include a minimum of 15 credits at the 400 level, or the equivalent of a 400-level course, before submitting the proposal to the committee. If this 15-credit recommendation is not met, the committee may request a justification as to why it is not deemed necessary. (SR:5/1/79)
4. Retention and Transfer Requirements
The faculty in an academic unit may want to impose more restrictive academic requirements for entrance into or retention in a college/major/option/minor. The criteria for making such requests must be based on academic considerations. (Agenda Appendix C, 2/18/92)
The request for more stringent entrance, transfer, and/or retention requirements must be submitted to the dean of the college. If approved by the dean, the Retention and Transfer Proposal Form (PDF) is submitted to the University Curriculum Coordinator at the University Faculty Senate Office, 101G Kern Graduate Building, for review by the Subcommittee on Retention and Transfer. If approved, the more restrictive requirements are published in the Senate Curriculum Report and will be included in the Bulletin.
When enrollment controls are needed for administrative (resource based) purposes, Administrative Policy P-5 should be followed. If the administrative enrollment control is to be published in the Bulletin, the information must be sent to the University Curriculum Coordinator for publication in the Senate Curriculum Report. After being published to the University community for 30 days, the enrollment control information will be incorporated into the Bulletin listing.
5. ROTC Credits
All baccalaureate majors must provide within the number of credits required for graduation, at least 6 credits which may be substituted with basic ROTC. (SR:4/6/65)
6. Total Credits Required for Graduation
The range of credits required for graduation from 8-semester baccalaureate majors is 120 to 144 credits; from 10-semester baccalaureate majors, 150 to 180 credits. (SR:4/6/65)
All course proposals must be submitted electronically through https://curriculum.psu.edu/. A User’s Manual and a Quick-Start Guide are also available. Courses seeking a university designation (e.g. United States cultures, international cultures, writing across the curriculum), bachelor of arts, general education, or integrative studies require additional documentation in the course proposal; such courses require vetting in the appropriate SCCA subcommittee(s).
Course proposals will receive one of two types of reviews: Full or Expedited Review.
An expedited review will be conducted for course proposals under the following circumstances:
- Limited changes in name or number (without substantive change in course content)
- Prerequisite changes affecting only courses within a department
- Updated course descriptions of a limited nature
- Course drops affecting only majors in the department
- Creation of standard common course numbers
All course changes must be approved by the Senate in order to be included in the Course Catalog.
1. Course Adds
Guidelines for the creation of new course abbreviations:
Course abbreviations should not be campus/college specific.
A new course abbreviation should not be created for one or two courses within a minor.
Faculty are encouraged to use disciplinary course abbreviations already in existence.
Guidelines for preparing proposals are outlined below.
- The heading as it would appear in the Course Catalog
- Abbreviated title (18 bytes or less)
- Prerequisite(s), concurrent(s), co-requisite(s), and recommended preparation
- Course outline
The course outline should include the following:
- A brief outline of the course content.
- A listing of the major topics to be covered with an approximate length of time allotted for their discussion.
- A succinct stand-alone course description (up to 400 words) is to be made available to students and faculty in the Course Catalog. This single description must encompass all course sections at all locations over a period of time and, therefore, must focus on the common and durable aspects of the course. The description should include the course objectives and relationship to courses and programs of study (but generally without course numbers). Similarly, descriptions may indicate the desirability or necessity for certain facilities needed for the course offering. Any course seeking a course attribute/ a specific letter or designation (e.g. H, U, W, GA, GH, etc.) should contain a brief statement describing this content.
- The name(s) of the faculty member(s) responsible for the development of the course.
- Justification statement
The justification statement covers nine major concerns and each area must be addressed separately.
- Instructional, educational, and course objectives:
This section should define what the student is expected to learn and what skills the student will develop. Additional materials are required for courses in special categories such as General Education, United States Cultures, International Cultures, and Writing (refer to appropriate section of the Guidefor details).
- Evaluation methods:
Include a statement that explains how the achievement of the educational objectives identified above will be assessed. The procedures for determining students’ grades should be specifically identified.
- Relationship/linkage of course to other courses:
This statement should relate the course to existing or proposed new courses. It should provide a rationale for the level of instruction, for any prerequisites that may be specified, or for the courses’ role as a prerequisite for other courses.
- Relationship of course to major, option, minor, or General Education:
This statement should explain how the course will contribute to the major, option, or minor and indicate how it may function as a service course for other departments. If applicable, indicate if course is remedial and may not be used to satisfy the basic requirements for graduation for any baccalaureate degree program.
- consultationwith appropriate departments and academic support units:
The unit originating the proposal should consult all units with a known interest in the subject field, not simply those in the same college. Consultation should take place at the department and/or college level and should include department members at all locations. Some duplication of instruction is inevitable, but SCCA is concerned with keeping such duplication to a minimum.
- If the course is to be offered by several colleges, consultation from the other colleges should be provided.
- A description of any special facilities (e.g. labs or equipment) required to teach the course effectively should be included in the proposal.
- List needed library resources.
- Frequency of offering and enrollment:
Indicate how many students are expected to enroll and how often the course will be taught.
- Instructional, educational, and course objectives:
- Effective date:
The standard effective date for new courses is the first semester following approval on the Senate Curriculum Report.
2. Course Changes
Guidelines for preparing the proposal are outlined below. Evidence of consultation with units affected by the course change must be included. The guidelines are as follows:
If the course is offered by several colleges, consultation from the other colleges should be provided.
- The heading as it would appear in the Course Catalog(Include the current heading.)
- Abbreviated title (18 bytes or less)
- Prerequisite(s), concurrent(s), co-requisite(s), and recommended preparation
(Include the items in the new headings that will be changed.)
- Abbreviated title (18 bytes or less)
- Prerequisite(s), concurrent(s), co-requisite(s), and recommended preparation
- The heading as it would appear in the Course Catalog(Include the current heading.)
- Course outline
Include both the old and new course outline, if change listing the major topics to be covered with an approximate length of time allotted for their discussion, if changed.
- Description of the course (if a current long-course description is not on file)
Include a succinct stand-alone course description (up to 400 words) to be made available to students and faculty in the Course Catalog. This single description must encompass all course sections at all locations over a period of time and, therefore, must focus on the common and durable aspects of the course. The description should include the course objectives; and relationship to courses and programs of study (but generally without course numbers). Similarly, descriptions may indicate the desirability or necessity for certain facilities needed for the course offering. Any course seeking a course attribute/ a specific letter or designation (e.g. H, U, W, GA, GH, etc.) should contain a brief statement describing this content.
- Faculty names include the name(s) of the faculty member(s) responsible for making the proposed changes in the course.
- Justification statement
Include a justification for each change. The extent of the proposed changes will determine the extent of supporting documentation required. Particular attention should be paid to the effects of the change within the unit and in other units where the course may be required within a major or used as a service course. When a unit submits several course changes, with or without new course proposals, a general statement covering the programmatic effects of the changes should be included. For courses in which all or major elements (such as credits, description, prerequisites and General Education designations) are changing, follow the justification procedure for new courses. Minor changes such as renumbering a course or changing a course title for clarity can be justified with a single sentence stating the reasons for the change.
- Include a completed copy of the Technology Needs for Course Proposals (www.curriculum.psu.edu), if appropriate.
- Effective date
The standard date for all changes is the date of the first published Schedule of Courses listing the changed course following approval on the Senate Curriculum Report.
3. Course Drops
Guidelines for preparing the proposal are outlined below. Evidence of consultation with units affected by the course drop must be included with the proposal. The guidelines are as follows:
If the course to be dropped is offered by several colleges, a joint proposal should be submitted.
- Heading as it appears in the Course Catalog
- Abbreviated title (18 bytes or less)
- Prerequisite(s), concurrent(s), co-requisite(s), and recommended preparation
- Justification statement
Include a statement setting forth reasons for the proposed drop and evidence of consultation with any unit affected by the drop.
- Effective date
The standard effective date for dropping courses is the first semester following approval on the Senate Curriculum Report (unless otherwise specified).
D. Senate Policies and Procedures Concerning Courses
1. Course Credits
An academic unit may schedule an entire section of an undergraduate course for fewer credits than the maximum authorized. For 400-level courses, an offering unit may schedule an individual student for fewer credits than the maximum authorized. In no case, however, may the course be scheduled for 0 credit or may the total credits scheduled for any student exceed the maximum number authorized for the course.
If a course may be repeated, the words per semester follow the number of credits, e.g., 3 per semester. These courses may be repeated indefinitely unless the credits are followed by the maximum number of credits allowed, such as 3 per semester, maximum of 12.
Courses may have variable credits, such as 1-3, 2-6, or 3-10. The largest number signifies the total credits that can be accumulated for the course over an indefinite number of semesters unless otherwise specified. For example, a course listed with (1-6) could be taken six semesters for 1 credit each semester, or three semesters for 2 credits each semester, or once for 6 credits. In some courses with variable credits, students may be permitted to accumulate more than the largest number shown, e.g., 1-3 per semester, maximum of 12.
2. Course Numbers
Reuse of Course Numbers:
Course numbers that have been dropped may not be reused for 6 years, in order to avoid confusion on student records. The LionPath Course Catalog can be used to verify the end date of a course number.
Common Course Numbers:
Common course numbers must first be established through the normal approval process (with a proposal in curriculum.psu.edu. The title, description, and credits for common course numbers have been established by the Senate and are listed below. Therefore, backup documentation is not needed in the proposal and an “NA” can be listed in most of the fields ( see example proposal (PDF)). Once the specific number(s) is approved, the course(s) is available for offering on a semester-by-semester basis by the academic area within different colleges. Titles may be added for a given semester by requesting that an alpha suffix be attached to the course number. The LionPath Course Catalog should be accessed to verify that a particular course number and suffix/attribute is available. A unit wishing to use a common course number submits the request to the University Curriculum Coordinator via the college dean’s office. The Honors Courses Request Form and the One-Semester Titles Course Request Form are available on the web. The completed form should be sent to the college dean’s office. Upon approval, the form will be forwarded by the dean’s office to the University Curriculum Coordinator at e-mail ID firstname.lastname@example.org. The University Curriculum Coordinator assures that no unintentional duplication of course titles will occur and then updates the University Course Master. The recommended deadline for requesting special titles is four weeks prior to registration for the semester in which the course will be offered.
Special titled courses may be offered only two times. If the department wishes to continue to offer the course, it should be proposed as a permanent course.
The following is a list of common course numbers used throughout the University:
294,494 Research Topics Courses (1-12 credits)
Supervised student activities on research projects identified on an individual or small group basis. A specific title may be used in each instance and will be entered on the student’s transcript. (Agenda Appendix D, 6/2/81)
195,295,395,495 Internship (1-18 credits)
Supervised off-campus, nongroup instruction including field experiences, practicums, or internships. Written and oral critique of activity required. A specific title may be used in each instance and will be entered on the student’s transcript. Prerequisite: prior approval of proposed assignment by instructor. (Agenda Appendix C, 6/3/80)
296, 496 Independent Studies (1-18 credits)
Creative projects, including research and design, which are supervised on an individual basis and which fall outside the scope of formal courses. A specific title may be used in each instance and will be entered on the student’s transcript. Students may not register for these courses without prior written approval of a faculty member in the department in which the courses are listed. (Agenda Appendix I, 11/1/77)
097/098, 197/198, 297/298, 397/398, 497/498 Special Topics (1-9 credits)
Formal courses given infrequently to explore, in depth, a comparatively narrow subject which may be topical or of special interest. Several different topics may be taught in one year or semester. A specific title may be used in each instance and will be entered on the student’s transcript. (Senate Agenda Appendix H, 3/17/92)
99, 199, 299, 399, 499 Foreign Studies (1-12 credits)
Courses offered in foreign countries by individual or group instruction. A specific title may be used in each instance and will be entered on the student’s transcript. (Senate Agenda Appendix D, 6/2/81)
The following is a list of available suffixes for special titled courses:
A-G, I, K – special topics courses
H – honors courses or sections
J – individualized instruction courses
L, P, R – lecture, practicum (or laboratory), recitation sections
M – both an honors and a writing-intensive course
S – First-Year Seminar courses
T – both an honors and a first-year seminar course
U – United States cultures and/or international cultures and honors
W – writing-intensive courses
X – First-Year Seminar courses and writing-intensive courses
Y – United States cultures and/or international cultures and writing course
3. Crosslisted Courses
Crosslisting courses should be for reasons that are of academic benefit to students and to course offering units involved.(SR:4/7/70) Proposals should be prepared in curriculum.psu.edu. The following guidelines should be used when preparing crosslist proposals:
A course add proposal needs to be prepared. The academic unit responsible for the course must submit the course proposal.
To add a crosslisting to an existing course, a course change proposal should be completed. The course proposal should include the course outline, objectives, etc., from the original course proposal. The academic unit responsible for the course should submit the proposal.
To change existing crosslisted courses, one change course proposal, which lists all of the crosslistings, should be prepared. The academic unit responsible for the course must submit proposal thought curriculum.psu.edu.
A separate drop proposal must be prepared for each crosslisted course being removed from the University course offerings.
If the course is retained by one of the units, a course change proposal must be prepared by that unit to remove the crosslisting reference(s). The academic unit proposing to drop the course must submit a drop proposal via curriculum.psu.edu.
4. Teaching of Existing Courses in Colleges in Which They Have Not Been Taught Before
The dean of the college in which the course is to be taught requests the necessary course and faculty information from the Dean (or his/her designate for curricular matters) in which the course was first developed. The information about the course that is to be made available should include the material requested in regular course proposals that are submitted to the SCCA for approval (see Section One,C.1, Course Adds)
While it is expected that the course objectives, the broad course outline, and the desired outcomes of student learning would be the same for the courses offered in different colleges, the individual course outlines may vary from instructor to instructor.
If difficulties should arise in the acquisition of the necessary course information, the SCCA will offer its good offices to assist in the matter.
5. Definition of a 400-Level Course
An advance course built on lower division undergraduate courses, the content of an approach to which is more sophisticated than lower division courses, but not beyond the level of current textbooks or their equivalent. Independent or original work may be expected of the student Honors courses and Senior thesis work would correspond more closely to 500-level courses. (SR: 4/7/70)
In addition to the definition approved by the Senate, a 400-level course is defined as an advanced undergraduate course open to graduate students, students with fifth- to eight-semester standing and, with the special permission of the offering unit, to qualified students in earlier semesters. Courses at the 400-level are generally distinguished from courses at the 001-399 level by increased depth and by the requirement of a greater and more independent effort on the part of the student.
A 400-level course generally includes as a prerequisite another course, a specific number of credits in an area (noting LionPath cannot currently enforce such a prerequisite), some other type of prerequisite, or a semester standing of seven or higher. A 400-level course that does not include a prerequisite must explain why the course is not a 001-399-level course.
6. Five-Year Automatic Drop Policy
Courses that have not been offered for a period of five years are dropped from the University’s approved course offerings after consultation with appropriate academic units. Exceptions may be made in extraordinary circumstances.
7. Full- and Half-Semester Courses
In general, credit courses offered through undergraduate education should be full-semester courses. Half-semester courses may also be authorized to permit academic units to offer, for example, special summer courses, coordinated courses, or integrated studies programs. When offering courses for less than a full semester, care must be taken to make sure students expected to schedule the courses may do so without impacting their ability to schedule a normal full-time load, as specified in Academic Administrative Policy C-1.
8. Honors (H) Courses
To obtain approval of an honors course on a permanent basis, an endorsement from the Schreyer Honors College must be obtained. Criteria describing general attributes of an honors course may be found at this website.
Creating a permanent honors course requires the submission of a COURSE ADD proposal, not a COURSE CHANGE proposal, unless the offering unit intends to discontinue the non-honors version of the course. Honors courses should include the word “honors” in the short and long titles of the course, with abbreviations HNR or HN, if needed. The Course Catalog description of the course should also describe durable elements of the course that distinguishes it as an honors course.
If a non-honors version of the same course exists, content that an honors and a non-honors course proposal have in common may be identical; however, the honors course proposal should also include an explanation of the differences between the honors and non-honors versions. An honors course is expected to meet all the same requirements (e.g., general education, major, minor, etc.) and must include the same prerequisites as the non-honors course. The honors course may include additional prerequisites, if additional skills are expected.
Honors course designations typically have a suffix/attribute of “H”. A course that is an honors course and a first-year seminar will have the suffix/attribute “T.” A course that is an honors course and a writing intensive course will have the suffix/attribute “M.” A course that is an honors course and a US and/or IL course will have the suffix/attribute “U.”
For more information, an offering unit should consult with the Schreyer Honors College before preparing the documentation. To obtain approval of an honors course on a permanent basis, an endorsement of the course proposal from the Schreyer Honors College must be obtained during the consultation process.
9. Research (R) Grades
An R grade may be used for courses that meet all of the following criteria: (a) variable credit, (b) continuing for more than one semester, (c) involving extensive research on a problem, and (d) a required thesis or major paper on which the final grade will largely depend.
To obtain approval to use an R grade on an indefinite basis, a request should be addressed to the Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs and forwarded to the University Curriculum Coordinator at the Senate Office.
At the discretion of the instructor, R grades may be used for Honors courses that are numbered 294H, 296H, 494H, and 496H.
A notation on the University Course Master (UCM) will indicate if a specific course has been approved to be offered with an R grade.
10. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (SA/UN) Grading
Academic units that want to have courses designated as only SA/UN grading must request approval through the Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs. The request must include a justification for why the course should be graded only SA/UN, and why the course is not suitable for standard grades. (SR: 3/25/86; see also, Senate Policy 49-60)
Courses approved by SCCA for offering only with an SA/UN grade will be so identified in the Course Catalog as part of the course description.
E. Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements
The Faculty Senate first initiated discussion of a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1964 and the B.A. degree was formally established by the Senate at Penn State on March 27, 1967. The original Bachelor of Arts requirements have been adjusted over the years, most recently on October 26, 2004 (SR:10/26/04, Appendix E).
The Bachelor of Arts degree requirements go beyond the General Education requirements to enhance the Bachelor of Arts student’s liberal education in the central fields of arts, humanities, social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences, and quantification, and serve to increase the student’s international knowledge and expertise in the area of Other Cultures. Bachelor of Arts students are required to attain proficiency in a foreign language at the 12th-credit-level. Students may choose to develop their foreign language skills beyond the 12th-credit-level proficiency, or to start another foreign language.
Courses approved as fulfilling the B.A. requirements can, but are not required to, meet the General Education Learning Objectives that General Education courses must meet.
Bachelor of Arts degree majors require 9-24 credits distributed among three categories. In addition, students are expected to complete credits required by their college and major.
Foreign Language (0-12 credits): Must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one language. This proficiency must be demonstrated by either examination or course work.
The B.A. Fields (9 credits): Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, Foreign Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification. Courses may not be taken in the area of the student’s primary major. Foreign language credits in this category must be in a second foreign language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language. Credits must be selected from the list of approved courses.
Other Cultures (0-3 credits): Students must select 3 credits from the list of approved Other Cultures courses. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the General Education US/IL requirement.
These B.A. requirements are listed at the beginning of the descriptions of each college or school that offers the majority of the B.A. majors, or are listed under individual B.A. majors.
The B. A. requirements will be shown in the Blue Book Description as follows:
BACHELOR OF ARTS DEGREE REQUIREMENTS: 24 credits (3 of these 24 credits are included in the REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR, GENERAL EDUCATION, or ELECTIVES and 0-12 credits are included in ELECTIVES if foreign language proficiency is demonstrated by examination.) (See description of Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements in front of Bulletin.)
2. Procedures for Submitting BA Course Proposals
Courses proposed for designation in the six central fields must:
- follow general course proposal guidelines to include documentation of support from all colleges in which the course is to be taught in the preparation of the proposal.
- meet the criteria for designation as a GA, GH, GS, GN or GQ course (without the General Education learning objectives) or, if the course is for foreign language designation, involve a significant amount of speaking, reading and/or writing in that language (i.e. not courses taught in the English language that focus on culture, literature, civilization, etc.).
- include pertinent information on the B.A. aspects of the course in the long course description (see item b.3. under Course Add).
Courses proposed for Other Cultures designation
In addition to items 1 and 3 above, courses seeking the Other Cultures designation should document how the course will address the criteria for this requirement.
The Other Cultures requirement denotes courses devoted to a culture or cultures differing significantly from the North American-European tradition. This requirement ensures that students have some familiarity with one or more of these cultures, which constitute a large majority of the earth’s population. Examples would include courses focused on Asia, Africa, Latin America, and/or indigenous cultures.
As a set of basic criteria, courses appropriate to the requirement should:
- be limited to content that is fundamentally “non-Western” and devoted to a culture or cultures differing significantly from the North American-European tradition. (For example, a course on “The Origins of African Drama” would be viewed as applicable, while a course on “The Origins of English Drama” would not.)
- be predominately centered on “non-Western” concerns in regards to course content and overall focus. Courses can include a small amount of Western material for the purposes of comparison, but courses that have only partial content in non-Western areas are not applicable. (For example, a course in “Asian Art” would be viewed as appropriate while a course in “World Art” that had only a portion of its content devoted to non-Western art would not.) For guidance, a requirement of at least 85% non-Western content is expected.
- be specifically concerned with aspects of non-Western culture rather than holding a primary interest in Western responses or reactions to non-Western cultures. This does not mean that Western influences, reactions, responses, or perceptions should not play a role in course content but, rather, they should not be the principal focus or concern of the course.
Mechanism for action on proposal:
- The proposal will follow the standard University procedures for curricular proposals.
- The Faculty Senate’s Bachelor of Arts Subcommittee will review and make recommendations to the Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs.
- SCCA will act on the proposal and publish the results in a subsequent issue of the Senate Curriculum Report.
F. First-Year Seminars/Engagement Plans
The University Faculty Senate, at its meeting on December 2, 1997, approved a requirement that each student complete, during the first academic year, a seminar course for a minimum of one credit. These First-Year Seminars are expected to be taught by full-time, regular Penn State faculty (Fixed Term I appointments with at least 3 years of teaching experience at Penn State, instructors and tenure-line faculty) and are expected to be taught in small sections. General Education First-Year Seminar requirement implementation.
At the April 29, 2008 meeting, the University Faculty Senate replaced the existing First-Year Seminar requirement as follows: Each University Park academic college, each of the 19 Commonwealth campuses, and the Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), all of which are called “units” for the purposes of this report, shall submit a First-Year Engagement Plan for achieving the goals and objectives of first-year engagement, as stated in the 1997 report of the SCGE, for all first-year baccalaureate students.
To fulfill the requirements for First-Year Seminars/Engagement Plans, as established by the University Faculty Senate, all First-Year Seminar courses must possess the following characteristics:
- They will have academic content and be offered for academic credit.
- They will be the responsibility of the colleges, but once taken, all other colleges will accept them.
- They will be taught in small classes, with an expected maximum enrollment of 25.
- They are expected to be taught by full-time, regular Penn State faculty.
- They should be taken during the student’s first academic year.
The goals of the Penn State First-Year Seminar/Engagement Plans, as stated in the supporting information from the Senate Legislation:
- To engage students in learning and orient them to the scholarly community from the outset of their undergraduate studies in a way that will bridge to later experiences in their chosen majors.
- To facilitate students’ adjustment to the high expectations, demanding workload, increased liberties, and other aspects of the transition to college life.
The objectives of the Penn State First-Year Seminar/Engagement Plan, as stated in the supporting information from the Senate Legislation:
- To introduce students to university study.
- To introduce students to Penn State as an academic community, including fields of study and area of interest available to students.
- To acquaint students with the learning tools and resources available at Penn State.
- To provide an opportunity for students to develop relationships with full-time faculty and other students in an academic area of interest to them.
- To introduce students to their responsibilities as part of the University community.
The implementation of the FYE plans can be found in the informational report by the Committee on Undergraduate Education.
1. Modes of Delivery for the First-Year Seminar/Courses
Academic units may offer courses meeting this requirement in several ways. The Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs (SCCA) foresees four basic approaches to these offerings:
- Specially designed 1 credit First-Year Seminar courses. (See special PSU course numbers)
- Specially designed 2 to 4 credit First-Year Seminar courses offered by academic units, with unit course name and number, which exceed the minimum University-wide requirement of one credit.
- General Education courses, or sections of General Education courses, that meet the objectives of the First-Year Seminar/Engagement Plans.
- Other existing courses which meet the objectives of the First-Year Seminar/Engagement Plans.
According to the April 2008 Senate legislation, FYE will next be reviewed in five years.
2. Course Numbers and Proposals
The one credit “Penn State First-Year Seminar” may be offered under PSU XXX for academic units wishing to approach this offering in this manner. Each college has been assigned a unique number for its use in offering these seminars. Academic units may also use their own numbers for these courses. An appropriate suffix/ attribute will be appended to unit specific course numbers. Colleges which have provided in their plan a description of the specific objectives to be achieved through the 1 credit seminar and a set of criteria through which the attainment of these objectives can be assessed, may use either the PSU number or the unit specific number to teach the First-Year Seminars. No additional course proposal will be required.
The following course numbers have been assigned by SCCA:
- PSU 001 First-Year Seminar Abington
- PSU 002 First-Year Seminar Agricultural Science
- PSU 003 First-Year Seminar Altoona
- PSU 004 First-Year Seminar Arts and Architecture
- PSU 005 First-Year Seminar Berks
- PSU 006 First-Year Seminar Business
- PSU 007 First-Year Seminar Behrend
- PSU 008 First-Year Seminar University College
- PSU 009 First-Year Seminar Communications
- PSU 010 First-Year Seminar Earth and Mineral Sciences
- PSU 011 First-Year Seminar Education
- PSU 012 First-Year Seminar Engineering
- PSU 013 First-Year Seminar Harrisburg
- PSU 014 First-Year Seminar Health and Human Development
- PSU 015 First-Year Seminar Liberal Arts
- PSU 016 First-Year Seminar Science
- PSU 017 First-Year Seminar Information Sciences and Technology
First-Year Seminars that are to be offered for more than one credit will require a full course proposal addressing the criteria for the First-Year Seminar/Engagement Plans. It is important that these proposals address the impact, if any, of the use of a seminar of more than 1 credit, on the total credits in programs for which the seminar might be required. If the number of credits in a program is changed as a result of the multiple credit First-Year Seminar requirement, a program revision will need to be submitted for each of the affected programs at the same time as the proposed course. Multiple credit First-Year Seminar courses will have regular program course numbers from the academic unit offering the course, with the appropriate S (Seminar), T (Honors Seminar) or X (Writing Across the Curriculum Seminar) suffix/attribute.
General Education courses, or sections of a General Education course, which are offered by an academic unit and which were identified in the units as meeting the objectives of the First-Year Seminar/Engagement Plan do not need to be submitted to the SCCA for review and approval. The appropriate suffix/attribute will be appended to the course number upon request to the University Curriculum Coordinator. The unit should monitor the achievement of the First-Year Seminar/Engagement Plan objectives and should include these courses in their two-year college report.
Existing 1 credit courses, offered by an academic unit, that fulfill the First-Year seminar requirement and that were identified in the units as meeting the objectives of the First-Year Seminar/Engagement Plan do not need to be submitted to the SCCA for review and approval. Upon request, the appropriate suffix/attribute will be appended to the course number. The unit should monitor the achievement of the First-Year Seminar/Engagement Plan objectives and should include these courses in their two-year college report. Existing multiple credit courses that are intended to be used for the First-Year Seminar/Engagement Plan will require a full course proposal addressing the criteria for the First-Year Seminar course. Both 1 credit and multiple credit courses in this category will be identified with the appropriate suffix/attribute.
3. Criteria for First-Year Seminars/Engagement Courses
Proposals for First-Year Seminar courses must address the objectives stated above in this section. They must show that the course will:
- Have academic content;
- Introduce students to University study;
- Introduce students to Penn State as an academic community, including fields of studies and areas of interest available to them;
- Acquaint students with the learning tools and resources available at Penn State;
- Provide opportunities for the students to develop relationships with full-time faculty and other students in academic areas of interest to them;
- Introduce students to their responsibilities as members of the University community.
G. General Education Component
The University Faculty Senate, at its meeting on April 30, 1985, adopted a comprehensive definition of General Education. This definition was most recently revised in the General Education report adopted by the Senate on, April 28, 2015 as follows:
The General Education curriculum will enable students to acquire skills, knowledge, and experiences for living in interconnected contexts, so they can contribute to making life better for others, themselves, and the larger world. General Education encompasses the breadth of knowledge involving the major intellectual and aesthetic skills and achievements of humanity. This must include understanding and appreciation of the pluralistic nature of knowledge epitomized by the natural sciences, quantitative skills, social and behavioral sciences, humanities, and arts. To achieve and share such an understanding and appreciation, skills in self-expression, quantitative analysis, information literacy, and collaborative interaction are necessary. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. General Education, in essence, aims to cultivate a knowledgeable, informed, literate human being.
Beginning with the incoming class in Summer 2018, Learning Objectives are the foundation of the General Education curriculum. First, all General Education courses need to demonstrate alignment with the new Learning Objectives; faculty and administration need to be aware of how courses will be evaluated with respect to this alignment. Second, faculty and students need to recognize when they are engaging with the General Education curriculum and students should to be clearly informed of what Learning Objectives they can expect to practice and achieve in for each General Education course. Third, all current General Education courses need to reviewed under the new criteria.
An effective General Education curriculum shall facilitate teaching and learning through seven key objectives:
EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION – the ability to exchange information and ideas in oral, written, and visual form in ways that allow for informed and persuasive discourse that builds trust and respect among those engaged in that exchange, and helps create environments where creative ideas and problem-solving flourish.
KEY LITERACIES – the ability to identify, interpret, create, communicate and compute using materials in a variety of media and contexts. Literacy acquired in multiple areas, such as textual, quantitative, information/technology, health, intercultural, historical, aesthetic, linguistic (world languages), and scientific, enables individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, to lead healthy and productive lives, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.
CRITICAL AND ANALYTICAL THINKING – the habit of mind characterized by comprehensive exploration of issues, ideas, artifacts, and events before accepting or formulating a conclusion. It is the intellectually disciplined process of conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.
INTEGRATIVE THINKING – the ability to synthesize knowledge across multiple domains, modes of inquiry, historical periods, and perspectives, as well as the ability to identify linkages between existing knowledge and new information. Individuals who engage in integrative thinking are able to transfer knowledge within and beyond their current contexts.
CREATIVE THINKING – the capacity to synthesize existing ideas, images, or expertise in original ways and the experience of performing, making, thinking, or acting in an imaginative way that may be characterized by innovation, divergent thinking, and intellectual risk taking.
GLOBAL LEARNING – the intellectually disciplined abilities to analyze similarities and differences among cultures; evaluate natural, physical, social, cultural, historical, and economic legacies and hierarchies; and engage as community members and leaders who will continue to deal with the intricacies of an ever-changing world. Individuals should acquire the ability to analyze power; identify and critique interdependent global, regional, and local cultures and systems; and evaluate the implications for people’s lives.
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICAL REASONING – the ability to assess one’s own values within the social context of problems, recognize ethical issues in a variety of settings, describe how different perspectives might be applied to ethical dilemmas, and consider the ramifications of alternative actions. Individuals should acquire the self-‐ knowledge and leadership skills needed to play a role in creating and maintaining healthy, civil, safe, and thriving communities.
Courses taken to meet General Education program requirements may not be taken under the Satisfactory-Unsatisfactory option.
The following describes the processes by which the Senate legislation on General Education is to be implemented. Most of it originated from the 3/25/86 Informational and Legislative reports to the Senate. (SR:3/25/86). On April 28, 2015, the legislation was modified to establish such changes as new learning objectives as the foundation of the General Education curriculum, to include an Integrative Studies requirement, and to introduce the “Move 3” component.
1. Structure of General Education
Baccalaureate Degree Summary of the General Education Program:
The General Education program consists of 45 credits distributed among two General Education components: Foundations (15 credits) in Writing/Speaking and Quantification and Knowledge Domains (30 credits) in the Natural Sciences, Arts, Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Health and Wellness. A six-credit requirement in Integrative Studies through completion of linked or inter-domain coursework is required within the Knowledge Domain general education credits. There are three additional University requirements that may be completed as a part of either General Education courses or courses required in the major. These requirements, which every baccalaureate degree student must complete, are at least 1 credit of First-Year Seminar, 3 credits of United States Cultures, 3 credits of International Cultures, and 3 credits of Writing Across the Curriculum course work.
To help students and advisers identify approved courses in each General Education category, as well as First-Year Seminar, United States Cultures, International Cultures, and Writing Across the Curriculum courses, each approved course is identified in the Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin and the Course Catalog by descriptive suffixes/ attributes as follows:
Foundations (15 credits)
Foundations courses must be completed with a grade of “C” or better.
- WRITING/SPEAKING (9 credits)
Courses designated with the GWS suffix/ attribute satisfy this component.
- QUANTIFICATION (6 credits)
Courses designated with the GQ suffix/ attribute satisfy this component. (3-6 credits are selected from mathematics, applied mathematics, and statistics; 3 credits may be selected from computer science or symbolic logic.)
Knowledge Domains (30 credits)
Students must complete a minimum of 3 credits in each the Knowledge Domain; additional credits within the Knowledge domains may either be fulfilled through a single domain course(s) or inter-domain course(s). Using a “Move 3” substitution, students may substitute 3 credits from one Knowledge Domain for a course in one of the other Knowledge Domains. Students must fulfill 6 credits of Integrative Studies through linked or inter-domain coursework. Students may not eliminate all single domain coursework in any General Education area by using the Move 3, the World Language Substitution, Inter-Domain courses, or other forms of flexibility.
- NATURAL SCIENCES (9 credits)
Courses designated with the GN suffix/ attribute satisfy this component.
- ARTS (6 credits)
Courses designated with the GA suffix/ attribute satisfy this component.
- HUMANITIES (6 credits)
Courses designated with the GH suffix/ attribute satisfy this component.
- SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES (6 credits)
Courses designated with the GS suffix/ attribute satisfy this component.
- HEALTH AND WELLNESS (3 credits)
Courses designated with the GHW suffix/ attribute satisfy this component.
A student may, in consultation with the adviser and the approval of the student’s college dean,
- substitute 200- to 499-level courses.
- substitute 3 credits from one Knowledge Domain for a course in one of the other Knowledge Domains not in the student’s major field of study, provided this will not lead to the complete elimination of any area of Knowledge Domain in the student’s General Education program.
- substitute 3 credits of study in a foreign/second language at the third or higher level for 3 credits in any of the categories of General Education, provided this will not lead to the complete elimination of any area of Knowledge Domain in the student’s General Education program.
Students whose academic majors are in the areas of Natural Sciences, Arts, Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences may not meet the General Education Knowledge Domains components by taking courses in the department or program identical to that of the academic major. All General Education courses are to help students explore and integrate information beyond the special focuses of their majors.
NOTE: When a course is used to satisfy more than one requirement, the credits in the course can be counted only once.
Additional Baccalaureate Degree Requirements:
FIRST-YEAR SEMINAR (1 credit)
Courses with the designation PSU will fulfill this requirement, as will other courses with the suffix/ attribute S (seminar), T (honors seminar), or X (writing across the curriculum seminar).
UNITED STATES AND INTERNATIONAL CULTURES (6 credits)
Courses with the US suffix/ attribute will satisfy the 3-credit United States cultures requirement and courses with the IL suffix/ attribute will satisfy the 3-credit international cultures requirement.
WRITING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM (3 credits)
Courses with the writing across the curriculum (W) suffix/ attribute satisfy this component, as will other courses with the combined suffixes/ attributes of honors and writing across the curriculum (M), combined suffixes/ attributes of first-year seminar and writing across the curriculum (X), or combined suffixes/ attributes of United States cultures and/or international cultures and writing across the curriculum (Y).
The program description published in the Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin must indicate how the General Education, First-Year Seminar, United States Cultures, International Cultures, and Writing requirements are satisfied within the major; i.e., included in the REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR, included in the GENERAL EDUCATION course selection, and/or included in ELECTIVES (see program description outline (PDF)).
2. Criteria for General Education Courses
The criteria given below have been derived from the objectives for General Education approved by the Senate on March 15, 2016.
No one course must achieve every General Education Learning Objective, but each proposal must specify clearly which objectives it proposes to meet. The Senate legislation of March 15, 2016 (see Appendix “B” of the 3/15/16 Agenda and 3/15/16 Senate Record), requires that a minimum of two and not more than four General Education Learning Objectives be addressed in a course with General Education designation(s). Foundations and Knowledge Domain courses along with Integrative Studies courses must meet specified criteria based on designation(s) sought.
Criteria for determining whether a course meets the general learning objectives of General Education
All General Education Course proposals must be responsive to the following prompts:
- Which of the seven General Education Learning Objective(s) will be addressed in the course? A minimum of two (2) Learning Objective must be clearly addressed in the course; it is recommended that each course address two to three (2-3) Learning Objectives and not more than four (4).
- What component(s) of the course will help students achieve the General Education Learning Objectives covered in the course? Provide evidence that students in the course have adequate opportunities to achieve the identified Learning Objectives.
- How will students be assessed to determine their attainment of the Learning Objective(s) of General Education covered in the course? This assessment must be included as a portion of the student’s overall performance in the course.
- Please provide a copy of the current or proposed syllabus.
Criteria for determining whether a course meets the Foundations objectives of General Education
In Writing and Speaking (GWS) courses, students do more than improve their abilities to communicate information clearly. They learn to set forth arguments persuasively and well, both orally and in writing. Students should emerge from their GWS courses as more accomplished writers and speakers, competent in a wide variety of settings. (Senate Agenda March 15, 2016)
To help students achieve GWS goals, the university provides GWS courses and an appropriate learning environment that will:
- Provide opportunities for students to become increasingly effective communicators as they enter new contexts and address new audiences
- Provide opportunities for students to become increasingly accomplished in written, oral, digital, and visual communication.
GWS Student Learning Criteria. Upon successful completion of the General Education Writing and Speaking requirements, students will have increased their abilities to:
- Demonstrate rhetorical and analytical skills as they explore, compose, interpret, and present a variety of texts
- Communicate effectively and persuasively to a range of audiences
- Demonstrate capacities for critical thinking, listening, and generating ideas
- Demonstrate proficiency in composing processes
- Employ the conventions of both spoken and written communication with sensitivity to context and venue.
In Quantification (GQ) fields, students practice and master basic mathematical and statistical skills of lifelong value in solving real world problems. Students should learn to apply mathematical skills appropriate to solve such problems. (Senate Agenda March 15, 2016)
To help students achieve GQ goals and master foundational quantification skills, the university provides GQ coursework and an appropriate learning environment that will:
- Provide experience in assessing and interpreting quantitative data and information
- Guide students to recognize patterns, establish relations, exercise conceptual thinking, develop problem-solving skills, and think logically and critically
- Support students in their efforts to draw accurate and useful conclusions; make informed decisions based on quantitative analysis; and use basic mathematical and statistical skills to solve conceptual problems.
GQ Student Learning Criteria. Upon successful completion of the General Education Quantification (GQ) requirement, students should have increased their abilities to:
- Use mathematical, statistical, or computational models, principles, and processes to integrate, synthesize, generalize, or make judgments about real world problems
- Recognize patterns, establish mathematical relations, apply problem-solving skills, and think logically and critically
- Develop, explore, analyze, and reason about multi-variable relationships using quantitative tools
- Use probability to reason and make judgments based on data that exhibit variability
- Communicate and explain mathematical and statistical ideas.
Criteria for determining whether a course meets the General Education objectives of the
Knowledge Domains for which it is intended.
General Education courses in the Knowledge Domains may be either courses that cover an area of knowledge of a field of study in a broad context or courses that treat a certain topic or field of study in greater depth or detail.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS (GHW)
In Health and Wellness (GHW) fields, students focus on the physical and psychosocial well-being of individuals and communities. They expand their theoretical and practical knowledge about health and wellness—concepts that are multidimensional and culturally defined. The University provides opportunities for students to study such diverse topics as nutrition, physical activity, stress, sleep, healthy leisure, alcohol, tobacco, and other substance use, sexual health, and safety—all useful in maintaining lifelong health and wellness and in creating healthy work and community environments. (Senate Agenda March 15, 2016)
- Identify and practice skills, attitudes, and behaviors that should enable them to better maintain health and wellness across their lifespans
- Identify wellness as a positive state of well-being, not merely the absence of disease or illness
- Recognize the importance of social, emotional, and physical health and wellness for communities as well as for individuals. To help students achieve GHW goals, the University provides GHW courses and an appropriate learning environment for students to:
GHW Student Learning Criteria. Upon successful completion of the General Education Health and Wellness (GHW) requirement, students should have increased their abilities to:
- Explain the methods of inquiry in Health and Wellness fields and describe how the contributions of these fields complement inquiry in other areas
- Describe multiple perceptions and dimensions of health and wellness (emotional, spiritual, environmental, physical, social, intellectual, and occupational)
- Identify and explain ways individuals and/or communities can achieve and maintain health and wellness
- Describe health-related risk factors and explain changes in knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, activities or skills that have the potential of improving health and wellness
- Disseminate knowledge about health and wellness and demonstrate behavioral practices needed to engage in healthy living across the life span.
NATURAL SCIENCES (GN)
In Natural Science (GN) fields, students develop the skills necessary to make informed judgments about scientific information and arguments. Along with building knowledge of foundational scientific principles, students expand their understanding of how and why science works, why it is an effective tool for knowledge generation, and how it can address contemporary questions and challenges. (Senate Agenda March 15, 2016)
To help students achieve GN goals and develop this scientific literacy, the University provides GN courses and an appropriate learning environment for students to:
- Encounter the order, diversity, and beauty of nature
- Sample some of the ways in which science offers an additional lens through which to view the human condition
- Engage with scientific material through discussion, exploration, data analysis, and experimentation
- Gain practice in recognizing the nature of scientific process and discovery, in identifying what science can and cannot achieve, and in analyzing why scientific arguments may lead to different conclusions than other forms of intellectual discourse.
GN Student Learning Criteria. Upon successful completion of the General Education (GN) requirement, students should have increased their abilities to:
- Explain the methods of inquiry in the natural science fields and describe how the contributions of these fields complement inquiry in other areas
- Construct evidence-based explanations of natural phenomena
- Demonstrate informed understandings of scientific claims and their applications
- Evaluate the quality of the data, methods, and inferences used to generate scientific knowledge
- Identify societal or philosophical implications of discoveries in the natural sciences, as well as their potential to address contemporary problems.
In Arts fields (GA), students focus on exploring or creating works of art. Students should become familiar with the importance of significant creative works, the traditions and history associated with those works, and the important role that the arts play as expressions of the cultural values of society and the human condition. (Senate Agenda March 15, 2016)
To help students achieve GA goals, the University provides GA courses and an appropriate learning environment with purposeful engagement with the arts and creative works for students to:
- Encounter and become conversant with the terminologies, techniques, practices, knowledge, and skills employed by the arts
- Gain a comprehension of the role that the arts play as expressions of the cultural values of society and the human condition
- Expand their knowledge of the variety of expressions and experiences that are provided through the arts
- Develop competencies in interpreting and critically evaluating diverse expressions in the arts.
GA Student Learning Criteria. Upon successful completion of the General Education Arts (GA) requirement, students should be able to:
- Explain the methods of inquiry in arts fields and describe how the contributions of these fields complement inquiry in other areas
- Demonstrate an expanded knowledge and comprehension of the role that the arts play in various aspects of human endeavor
- Demonstrate competence in the creation of works of art and design
- Demonstrate competence in analysis, critical thinking and interpretive reasoning through the exploration of creative works
- Identify and explain the aesthetic, historic, social, and cultural significance of important works of art and critically assess creative works, their own or others’, through evaluative processes of analysis and interpretation.
In Humanities (GH) fields, students focus on exploring important works of literature, history, religion, philosophy, and other closely related forms of cultural expression, thereby broadening their understanding of diverse ways of seeing, thinking about, and experiencing the self and society. Students will enlarge their intellectual horizons and knowledge of the world through encountering humanistic representations of both lived experiences and imaginative or speculative constructions, past or present. Students thus become increasingly prepared to live as thoughtfully engaged members of multiple communities, whether local, regional, or global. (Senate Agenda March 15, 2016)
To help students achieve GH goals, the University provides GH courses and an appropriate learning environment for students to:
- Engage in the qualitative study of the humanities
- Expand their knowledge of the variety of human experiences
- Gain access to various intellectual traditions and their changes through time
- Probe the foundations of communication and thought and become aware of the scope and limitations of human communication
- Encounter concepts and traditions that attempt to bring sense to human existence
- Develop their competency in interpreting and critically evaluating diverse ways of life, traditions, and shared or individual values, including their own.
GH Student Learning Criteria. Upon successful completion of the General Education Humanities (GH) requirement, students should have increased their abilities to:
- Explain the methods of inquiry in humanities fields and describe how the contributions of these fields complement inquiry in other areas
- Demonstrate competence in critical thinking about topics and texts in the humanities through clear and well-reasoned responses
- Critically evaluate texts in the humanities– whether verbal, visual, or digital– and identify and explain moral or ethical dimensions within the disciplines of the humanities
- Demonstrate knowledge of major cultural currents, issues, and developments through time, including evidence of exposure to unfamiliar material that challenges their curiosity and stretches their intellectual range
- Become familiar with groups, individuals, ideas, or events that have influenced the experiences and values of different communities.
SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES (GS)
In Social and Behavioral Science (GS) fields, students focus on analyzing the forces that influence behaviors, values, habits, attitudes, and institutions. GS courses allow students to explore the multiple perspectives and methodologies useful in analyzing and addressing complex social issues. (Senate Agenda March 15, 2016)
To help students achieve GS goals, the university provides GS courses and an appropriate learning environment for students to:
- Explore the interrelationships of the many factors that shape behavior
- Be introduced to methodological analyses of the forms, practices, and theories of politics, economics, and social institutions
- Develop comprehensive, integrated, reasoned, and theoretical views of their contemporary and emerging social worlds
- Expand their understanding of how social, political, and economic influences and trends affect individual, group, organizational, local, national, and global contexts.
GS Student Learning Criteria. Upon successful completion of the General Education Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS) requirement, students should have increased their abilities to:
- Explain the various methods of inquiry used in the social and behavioral sciences and describe how the contributions of these fields complement inquiry in other areas
- Identify and explain major foundational theories and bodies of work in a particular area of social and behavioral sciences
- Describe the ways in which many different factors may interact to influence behaviors and/or institutions in historical or contemporary settings
- Explain how social and behavioral science researchers use concepts, theoretical models and data to better understand and address world problems
- Recognize social, cultural, political and/or ethical implications of work in the social and behavioral sciences.
Criteria for determining whether a course meets the Integrative Studies objectives of General Education
Within General Education, students must complete 6 credits in Integrative Studies and must choose to fulfill this requirement through the Linked Courses Pathway or the Inter-Domain Pathway.
The Senate endorses the following General Principles for the Linked Courses Pathway.
- Linked Courses are interrelated General Education Knowledge Domain courses, each meeting the criteria of its own Knowledge Domain (GA, GH, GHW, GN, or GS), that approach similar subject matter from different intellectual perspectives or are connected in some other purposeful way to provide opportunities for students to experience and practice integrative thinking across Knowledge Domains. Each Linked Course is approved for only one Knowledge Domain and is also part of a Linkage that includes courses from different Knowledge Domains.
- The student must complete courses that are linked with each other, each in a different General Education Knowledge Domain (thus including at least two Knowledge Domains), for the linked set to fulfill the Integrative Studies requirement. A single course alone does not count for the Linked Courses Pathway in the Integrative Studies requirement even if that course has been approved to be part of a Linkage. However, because each Linked Course satisfies a Knowledge Domain requirement, the student can use it within that Domain (or perhaps elsewhere in the student’s program) whether or not the Linkage is completed. Although, students will usually fulfill the 6-credit Linked Courses Pathway by taking two 3-credit courses in this Pathway students may also use courses carrying anywhere from 1 to 5 credits towards the total of 6 Linked Courses credits.
- More than two courses may participate in a Linkage; having more than two courses available in a Linkage will provide flexibility and may facilitate students’ abilities to complete the package. Each such course is taught by an instructor, or team of instructors, with appropriate expertise in the course’s Knowledge Domain.
- Linkages are proposed by faculty (or teams of faculty) with expertise in the relevant disciplines of each Knowledge Domain; proposals will follow the established curricular processes for course approvals.
- Either single-offering or permanent approval for the Linked Courses designation may be requested. A course may be offered using single-offering approval a maximum of 3 times at a given location.
- Proposals for Linked Courses will:
- Request (or have received) approval as a General Education course in a particular Knowledge Domain, following the standard curricular processes.
- Explain how the intellectual frameworks and methodologies of each course’s Knowledge Domain will be explicitly addressed in the course and practiced by the students.
- Explain how the courses in the Linkage will be linked with each other. It is anticipated that courses will usually be linked by subject matter, but they should additionally be linked by some purposeful component that provides opportunities for students to experience and practice integrative thinking across Knowledge Domains. The Linkage component between courses needs to be intentional and explicit to students. However, each course in a Linkage must be self-contained such that students can successfully complete just one course in the Linkage if they so choose.
- Include evidence of unit-level (department, program) and College-level administrative approval of the courses and Linkages, and evidence of substantive consultation among faculty with expertise in the appropriate Knowledge Domain(s) and discipline(s).
- Briefly explain the staffing plan. Given that each Linked Course is approved for a single Knowledge Domain, it will be taught by an instructor (or instructional team) with appropriate expertise in that domain, who will also be expected to implement the Linkage’s shared component as defined in the proposal.
- Describe the assessments that will be used to determine students’ ability to apply integrative thinking.
The Senate endorses the following General Principles for the Inter-Domain Pathway.
- An Inter-Domain course integrates, within one course, selected perspectives, concepts, information, and knowledge from two of the following Knowledge Domains: GA, GH, GHW, GN, GS.
- An Inter-domain course counts towards the General Education requirement in both of its two Knowledge Domains and it provides opportunities for students to experience and to practice integrative thinking across those two Domains.
- Students must complete 6 credits of Inter-Domain coursework in order to fulfill the Integrative Studies requirement. Because these courses integrate two Knowledge Domains, and need time to do so, they will each carry at least 3 credits. Although students will usually take two 3-credit courses to fulfill this Pathway, students can also use Inter-Domain courses carrying more than 3 credits, if available.
- Each of the two Knowledge Domains in an Inter-Domain course will receive approximately equal attention (in course topics, assignments, or other course components). Each such course is taught by an instructor, or team of instructors, with appropriate expertise in the two Knowledge Domains for which the course is approved. Inter-Domain courses may be cross-listed or concurrent-listed but this is not required.
- Although each Inter-Domain course will satisfy a Domain requirement in both of the Knowledge Domains for which it is approved, the number of credits it contributes towards the total of 30 credits required in the Knowledge Domains is not doubled. (For example, a 3-credit course approved as both Natural Science and Social Science will satisfy a Domain requirement in both of those categories; however, this course will contribute 3 credits, not 6, to the total of 30 needed).
- Inter-Domain courses are proposed by faculty (or teams of faculty) with expertise in the relevant disciplines of each Knowledge Domain represented; proposals will follow the established curricular processes for course approvals. Consultation and support from faculty in relevant fields within both Knowledge Domains where the course will count is required.
- Single-offering or permanent approval for the Inter-Domain Courses designation may be requested. A course may be offered using single-offering approval a maximum of 3 times at a given location.
- Proposals for Inter-Domain courses will:
- Request (or have received) approval as a General Education course and satisfy the criteria for two Knowledge Domains, following the standard curricular processes. Course proposals will not be approved for more than two Knowledge Domains.
- Explain how the intellectual frameworks and methodologies of the two Knowledge Domains will be explicitly addressed in the course and practiced by the students.
- Demonstrate that each of the two domains will receive approximately equal attention, providing evidence from course topics, assignments, or other course components, and that students will integrate material from both domains.
- Include evidence of unit-level (department, program) and College-level administrative approval of the courses, and evidence of substantive consultation among faculty with expertise in the appropriate Knowledge Domains and discipline(s).
- Where Inter-Domain courses are cross-listed, consultation with both of those academic units and their Colleges is required. For other Inter-Domain courses, given that all the Knowledge Domains are offered by more than one unit and College, this dual-Domain consultation and support should occur with the most closely related units and Colleges (more than one such unit and College may be relevant).
- Briefly explain the staffing plan. Given that each Inter-Domain course is approved for two Knowledge Domains, it will be taught by an instructor (or instructional team) with appropriate expertise in both domains.
- Describe the assessments that will be used to determine students’ ability to apply integrative thinking.
3. Procedures for Submitting General Education Course Proposals
Proposed courses must:
- be consistent with the definition of General Education.
- include a complete course outline including a statement of course objectives.
- explain how the course meets General Education criteria (see section #2).
- identify and explain any intended linkages, thematic or sequential, between the proposed course and other courses.
- indicate what size student audience will be addressed and whether there will be specific limits set for enrollment in the course; if the course includes discussion or lab sections their enrollment limits should be given.
- include pertinent information on the General Education aspects of the course in the long course description (see item b.3. under Course Add).
- include documentation of participation of all colleges in which the course is to be taught in the preparation of the proposal.
- include the name(s) of the faculty member(s) who has major responsibility for the development of the course.
- include a syllabus for the course including at minimum a detailed course description, course objectives and identification of the course’s General Education Learning Objectives and General Education domain(s); other pertinent information required in a syllabus at the time of submission is welcome but not required.
- include evidence of support and curricular consultation; integrative studies proposals require consultation and support among faculty with expertise in appropriate Knowledge Domains and disciplines
Mechanism for action on proposal:
- The proposal is submitted through curriculum.psu.edu.
- The General Education Subcommittee reviews and makes recommendations to SCCA.
- If the course seeks Integrative Studies review, the Integrative Studies Subcommittee reviews and makes recommendations to SCCA following approval of General Education designation(s).
- SCCA acts on the proposal and publishes the results in a subsequent issue of the Senate Curriculum Report.
- General Education courses will undergo a recertification process each 5 years to maintain the General Education designation(s).
H. United States Cultures (US) and International Cultures (IL) Course Requirements
On March 20, 1990, the University Faculty Senate established a Cultural Diversity graduation requirement effective Summer Session 1991 for all students entering the University as baccalaureate degree candidates. Students had to take either 3 credits of Diversity Focused (DF) courses or 12 credits of Diversity Enhanced (DE) courses. The legislation was modified on April 26, 1994, eliminating the Diversity enhanced requirement. This action became effective Summer Session 1994. On December 2, 1997, the University Faculty Senate recommended an enlargement in the scope of this part of the student’s education and named it the “Intercultural and International Competence Requirement”. Courses fulfilling this requirement had a GI suffix. Students could satisfy the Intercultural and International Competence requirement with experiential learning, including University-approved study abroad, specific and structured internships, Peace Corps experiences, and their equivalents.
On April 27, 2004, the University Faculty Senate adopted legislation that replaced the Intercultural and International Competence Requirement with two requirements. Baccalaureate students enrolling Summer Session 2005 and thereafter must complete a 3-credit course designated as United States Cultures (US) and a 3-credit course designated as International Cultures (IL), and/or a course that meets both the United State and International Cultures (US;IL) requirement. Since 6 credits are required, a single 3-credit course may not fulfill both requirements. Associate degree students must complete a 3-credit course carrying either designation. Students may still satisfy either or both of these requirements through experiential learning. Students may petition for other forms of credit acquisition to satisfy the United States Cultures or International Cultures requirements through their college advising office or college dean’s office.
The goal of Cultural Diversity courses was to encourage students through their studies in many disciplines to (a) consider the various historical backgrounds, cultural and scientific contributions, economic, psychological, and political situations of a wide range of diverse peoples; and (b) appreciate the impact of the developing global community on American society (SR: 3/20/90). The report of December 1997 accepted this view but asked to sharpen the focus of the requirement and to include courses or experiences (study abroad, in-service work, etc.) that pertain to what students come to know and learn to do (SR: 12/2/97). In April 2016, the University Faculty Senate updated the language in the US/IL requirement including mandating at least 50% of course content addressed by the designation criteria (SR: 4/19/16).
The current requirements were adopted in order to:
- Provide our students with a better education by ensuring that students have both United States and international coursework.
- Make the requirements more readily understandable through their titles than was the case with the Intercultural and International Competence requirement.
- Allow students to choose from a richer array of courses (SR: 4/27/04).
- Encourage greater cohesion around programmatic and policy consistency (SR: 4/19/16).
1. Objectives for United States Cultures (US) and International Cultures (IL) Courses
The criteria for the approval of United States Cultures and International Cultures courses have been derived from the legislation of April 19, 2016. The guidelines for the implementation accompanying this legislation asked that courses fulfilling this requirement require students to make comparisons, particularly with their own realm of experience. Each course must meet the objectives stated below for United States Cultures, International Cultures, or both.
Associate degree students will continue to have a three-credit requirement and may choose either a United States Cultures course or an International Cultures course.
United States Cultures (US) (3 credits)
A wide variety of social, cultural, and political forces have shaped the culture and institutions of the United States. As a result, it is important for university students to be exposed to the historical background, development, and current configurations of various groups in our pluralistic American culture. Such exposure will promote an understanding of the many complex issues of inter-group relations and the many kinds of cultural contributions that have shaped our nation.
A course that fulfills the United States Cultures requirement must strive to increase students’ understanding of contemporary United States society. Such a course need not focus exclusively on the present and may concern a historical subject.
Courses with the United States Cultures designation will include two or more of the following components and will include those components in the graded evaluation of student performance.
United States Cultures courses will with at least 50% of the course content addressed by the US course designation criteria:
- Cultivate student knowledge of issues of social identity such as ethnicity, race, class, religion, gender, physical/mental disability, age, or sexual orientation;
- Convey to students a knowledge of different United States values, traditions, beliefs, and customs;
- Increase student knowledge of the range of United States cultural achievements and human conditions through time;
- Increase student knowledge of United States social identities not in isolation, but in relation to one another (for example, the interaction of race or gender with socioeconomic status.)
- Introduce students to interpersonal communication and interaction issues among United States cultures.(Senate Agenda Appendix C, 3/13/12)
- Increase student understanding of the nature of societal justice, and equity in the United States at the societal, institutional, and individual levels. (Senate Agenda Appendix D, 4/19/16)
International Cultures (IL) (3 credits)
A wide variety of social, cultural, and political forces have shaped the cultures, nations, and institutions of the modern world. As a result, it is important for university students to be exposed to the historical backgrounds, cultural and scientific contributions, and economic, social, psychological, and political circumstances of civilizations, cultures, and nations outside of the United States, to promote understanding of the variety of world cultures.
A course that fulfills the International Cultures requirement must strive to increase student knowledge of the variety of international societies and may deal to some extent with U.S. culture in its international connections. It need not focus exclusively on the present and may, indeed, be a historical subject. Courses with the International Cultures designation will do two or more of the following with at least 50% of the course content addressed by the IL course designation criteria:
- Cultivate student knowledge of the similarities and differences among international cultures;
- Convey to students a knowledge of other nations’ cultural values, traditions, beliefs, and customs;
- Increase students’ knowledge of the range of international cultural achievements and human conditions through time;
- Increase students’ knowledge of nations and cultures not in isolation, but in relation to one another.
- Introduce students to interpersonal communication and interaction issues among International cultures. (Senate Agenda Appendix C, 3/13/12)
- Increase student understanding of the nature of societal justice, and equity in international nations at the societal, institutional, and individual levels. (Senate Agenda Appendix D, 4/19/16)
Principles of Implementation
- These requirements–United States Cultures (3 credits) and International Cultures (3 credits)–may be fulfilled by double-counting with other General Education courses, courses in the major or minor, electives, or such approved three-credit options such as Study Abroad, internships, etc., to the extent permitted by the student’s college, major, or degree program. Courses will be designated as 1) United States Cultures, 2) International Cultures, or 3) United States and International Cultures. A student may use a course in the third category to fulfill either the United States Cultures requirement or the International Cultures requirement. Since 6 credits are required, a single 3-credit course may not fulfill both requirements.
- The following principles will be adopted to make the approval criteria clear, the approval process as quick as possible, and the course designations readily understandable to both students and advisors. The following criteria will be used in determining course designations:
- The course is designed to fulfill the required objectives, as indicated in the previous descriptions.
- At least one-half of the course is oriented toward fulfilling the objectives of the requested designation as United States Cultures, International Cultures, or United States and International Cultures. For a course seeking both designations, each 50 percent must be satisfied for a total of 100% percent.
- The objectives are included in the graded evaluation of student performance.
- Every undergraduate course meeting these requirements will be eligible for the appropriate designation(s), regardless of course level, offering unit, or other University designations.
2. Procedures for Submitting United States Cultures (US) and International Cultures (IL) Course Proposals
- Course proposals must follow the appropriate course proposal form format for new or changed courses. A US and/or IL course proposal must be consistent with the objectives of the United States Cultures and/or International Cultures requirements. Specifically, each proposal must:
- State whether the course meets the definition of 1) a United States cultures course, 2) an international cultures course, or 3) both a United States cultures and international cultures course.
- Include a complete course outline including a statement of course objectives that reflect the US and/or IL content, and a listing of major topics with an approximate length of time for their discussion.
- Include pertinent information on the US/IL aspects of the course in the long course description (Item B.3. on Course Add proposal form).
- Describe how the course encourages students to develop understanding of the historical backgrounds, cultural and scientific contributions, economic, social, psychological, and political circumstances of the group being studied. While no one course or section is expected to achieve every criterion, each course proposal must clearly specify which criteria it proposes to meet. Thus the proposal should explain how students, within the context of the course, will be encouraged to do or achieve three or more of the following:
- see nations, cultures, and/or social identities not in isolation, but in relation to each other;
- cultivate awareness of the pluralism and diversity within the United States and international cultures;
- increase knowledge of different cultural values, traditions, beliefs and customs;
- appreciate the diversity that exists among persons who share a particular social identity;
- increase knowledge about the range of cultural achievements and human conditions through time;
- recognize and be sensitive to the different ways social identities have been valued;
- re-examine beliefs and behaviors about social identities (ethnicity, race, class, religion, gender, physical/mental disability, or sexual orientation);
- increase understanding of the nature of stereotypes and biases of other cultures and other nations;
- interact successfully with representatives of other nations and with persons of different social groups;
- increase ability to locate and evaluate information and gain knowledge about other peoples of the world.
- Increase understanding of the nature of social justice, and equity at the societal, institutional, and individual levels.
- Include a statement that explains how the achievement of the US/IL educational student objectives will be assessed (e.g. grading procedures).
- The sequence of action on US and/or IL proposals is:
- The proposal is submitted following the standard course procedures.
- The United States and International Cultures Subcommittee (and the subcommittee for General Education, Integrative Studies, and/or Writing Intensive proposals, if necessary) reviews the proposal and makes recommendations to the Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs.
- The Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs acts on the proposal and publishes the results in the Senate Curriculum Report.
- The United States and International Cultures courses will undergo a recertification process each 5 years to maintain the designation(s); implementation of the recertification process is pending.
- Course proposals must follow the appropriate course proposal form format for new or changed courses. A US and/or IL course proposal must be consistent with the objectives of the United States Cultures and/or International Cultures requirements. Specifically, each proposal must:
I. Writing Across the Curriculum
On April 18, 1989, the University Faculty Senate established a Writing Across the Curriculum graduation requirement effective Summer Session 1990 for all students entering the University as baccalaureate degree candidates and Summer 1992 for all associate degree candidates. Students are required to complete at least 3 credits of writing-intensive courses selected from a selection of courses approved with the writing suffix/ attribute offered within a major or college of enrollment. (Senate Agenda Appendix E, 3/19/91)
Pending Senate approval, courses may be offered as writing-intensive on a permanent or one-semester basis. Writing-intensive courses are reviewed by the University Writing Subcommittee which makes a recommendation to the Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs. (SR:4/18/89)
1. Supporting Documentation for Writing-Intensive Course Proposals
Penn State writing-intensive courses reflect that students (1) write to learn in ways that help them think about new material and (2) learn to write in discipline-specific genres. A writing-intensive course must balance those two writing activities. “Write to learn” means that students use informal, writing early in the process to think and explore without regard to formal elements of writing (e.g., Thomas Edison’s lab notebooks fraught with misspellings, fragments, and cross-outs). “Learn to write” means that students learn to use writing standards such as unity, coherence, development, style, and mechanics that their discipline requires of formal documents (e.g., Thomas Edison’s patent applications). The criteria for writing-intensive courses have been derived from the goals outlined in the writing-intensive course legislative report presented to the Senate on April 18, 1989. These criteria are used by the University Writing Subcommittee in reviewing course proposals. The Senate recommends a maximum enrollment of 25 students per section. (see Writing Across the Curriculum Sample Proposal (PDF))
Each course proposal must include the following supporting materials:
- A statement of the expected course enrollment and the number of sections offered per semester.
- A concise explanation (in about one page) of how the proposed course will fulfill each of the following criteria:
- Writing Assignment Design
Both informal and formal writing assignments should relate clearly to the course objectives and should serve as effective instruments for learning the subject matter of the course. Instructors should communicate to students the requirements of formal, graded writing assignments in writing, not just orally. In writing-intensive courses, writing assignments are characteristically designed to help students investigate the course subject matter, gain experience in interpreting data or the results of research, shape writing to a particular audience, or practice the type of writing associated with a given profession or discipline. Much of the writing may be informal and ungraded, yet meaningful, so students are encouraged to think and discover through a process in which mistakes are a natural part of learning. Examples of such writing include one-minute papers at the beginning, middle, or end of class; reactions to lectures, labs, and readings; journals, logs, and notebooks of observations, readings, and other experiential activities; letters to classmates; weekly digests; e-mail dialogues; records of peer group discussions; and stories of one’s thinking on a problem.
- Treatment of Writing as a Developmental Process
Students will be afforded opportunities to practice writing throughout the semester, with emphasis given to writing as a process that develops through several iterations. Typically, writing-intensive courses require multiple writing assignments, a sequence of preparatory writings (outline, formulation of thesis, first draft) leading to a final product, or informal writing assignments (e.g., regular journal entries, field notes, short in-class papers, revision of first draft) that aid students in developing other written documents. Experimentation with assignments is encouraged.
- Written Feedback from the Instructor
Opportunities for students to receive written feedback from the instructor and to apply the instructor’s feedback to their future writing will be built into the course. The instructor will clearly identify and explain the type of writing required in the course and will provide guidance as needed. A writing-intensive course may also include peer review of written work, tutorial assistance, instructor conferences, group writing projects, the use of writing or learning centers, teaching assistant feedback, and classroom discussions of assigned readings about writing. The use of diverse feedback mechanisms is encouraged, but none of these mechanisms should substitute for the instructor as the principal source of written feedback to the student.
- Evaluation of Writing
Writing will be evaluated by the instructor, and writing quality will be a factor in determining each student’s final grade. Before students begin writing, instructors will communicate to students the criteria by which their writing will be evaluated. Sound criteria for assessing writing quality include, but are not limited to, the writer’s ability to direct the material to an intended audience, the employment of organizational strategies, the development of both content and reasoning, adherence to conventions of a particular discipline, accuracy of the information presented, citation and integration of sources, grammar, diction and syntax, and spelling. Writing assignments should be worth at least 25 percent of each student’s final grade.
- Writing Assignment Design
- A copy of the course syllabus, which should include a statement of course objectives, a definition of writing-intensive teaching that helps students see how this “W” course is different from other courses that assign writing, a sequence of class activities, references to writing assignments, and weight of writing assignments in relation to the final course grade.
- One or two examples of the actual writing assignment sheets the instructor plans to use in the course.
2. Procedures for Submitting Writing-Intensive Course Proposals
Faculty may request SCCA approval for either a one-semester Writing Course offering or permanent Writing Course. The documentation for both a permanent and a one-semester W-course offering is the same. The procedures for submitting permanent and one-semester course proposals are slightly different and are listed below.
Proposals are submitted to the University Curriculum Coordinator at the Senate Office following the standard Curricular Affairs procedures. Proposals must be completed through curriculum.psu.edu. The University Curriculum Coordinator transmits the proposals to the University Writing Subcommittee. The University Writing Subcommittee reviews the proposals and makes a recommendation to SCCA before they are published in the Senate Curriculum Report.
Proposals must include a completed Course Proposal Form via curriculum.psu.edu. The documentation must be presented in the format shown above (1 through 4). In addition, all proposals must include the instructor’s name, course section number, and if it has been taught before, indicate the semester and year.
While both the permanent writing course proposals and the one-semester writing course proposals are treated identically when they reach the Senate Office, the prior process differs with location.
University Park—The department head submits 2 copies of the proposal to the University Curriculum Coordinator at the Senate Office, simultaneously forwarding an informational copy to the college assistant/associate dean for undergraduate education.
University College Campuses—The Director of Academic Affairs submits 2 copies of the proposal to the University Curriculum Coordinator at the Senate Office, simultaneously forwarding informational copies to the college assistant/associate dean for undergraduate education.
Campus Colleges—The division head submits 2 copies of the proposal to the University Curriculum Coordinator at the Senate Office, simultaneously forwarding informational copies to the college assistant/associate dean for undergraduate education.
The associate deans for undergraduate education can put a hold on the requested proposal by informing the University Curriculum Coordinator. The hold would require discussion and possible revision. A need for substantial revisions would probably postpone the potential W listing until the next semester in which the proposer is scheduled to teach the course. If the University Curriculum Coordinator receives no written objection, it will be assumed the informed parties have approved the proposal.
If the course is to be offered with a special topics number, rather than a permanent number, the proposal should be submitted to the Senate Office for approval by the Writing subcommittee.
If an instructor has offered a one-semester writing-intensive course or course section and would like to offer the previously approved course a second time, he/she should state this in a memorandum to the Chair of the University Subcommittee on Writing and submit it along with one copy of the course documentation to the University Curriculum Coordinator at the Senate Office. If a third offering is requested, the subcommittee will ask the offering unit to consider proposing the course as a permanent W course.