Home > Academic Catalog > 2011-13 Academic Catalog > Environmental Liberal Arts - General Education Requirements > Distribution Categories

Distribution Categories

Quantitative Analysis (courses)
The quantification of phenomena allows us to understand why and how systems function. Courses in this category will develop the ability to understand, interpret and analyze quantitative data about environmental issues, to understand the role of such data in problem solving, and to recognize both the power and limits of mathematical analysis.

Natural Systems (courses)
Scientific modes of thinking help us gain a better understanding of the natural world. Science involves using observation, imagination, deduction, and induction in ways that sharpen problem-solving skills, enhance formal reasoning skills, and develop methods of quantification and analysis. Such skills are a necessary for citizens who wish to make more informed decisions concerning their actions in a global community.
* Biology majors are exempt from this category, but not from the total credit count for ELA and should substitute any course from any category for the Natural Systems course.

Human Systems (courses)
Human beings are deeply embedded in complex social relationships. Our concepts of self, identity, motive, value, and truth can only be understood with reference to other individuals. Indeed, social forces and the histories of every culture and every society profoundly affect our views of ourselves as individuals. Any attempt to understand humans as individuals requires understanding humans as social beings who shape and are shaped by the institutions that govern their lives.

Aesthetic Appreciation (courses)
Beauty is a critical component of a good life and is encountered in many places under different contexts. Exposure to what our own and other cultures have deemed beautiful expands the appreciation and experience of beauty and heightens the understanding of the human desire for beauty in the built environment.

Moral Reasoning (courses)
Many of our actions have moral consequences. While scientific understanding can inform us of the material consequences of our actions, it cannot inform us about which of these actions are most morally justified. In a complex and divided world, citizens must be able to weigh the moral implications of actions and to choose appropriately with full understanding of the moral dimensions of life.

Historical Context (courses)
Our past influences who we are. It shapes the cultures in which we live, moves us to view the world in particular ways, and forms how we imagine our future. It can expand or contract our view of what is possible. To become most fully human, we must understand our past.

The Examined Life (courses)
Understanding of self is critical to understanding the world. This category requires examination of self in relation to natural or social systems with a goal of having students think deeply about how individuals flourish. Elements addressed include personal responsibility, mental, physical, or spiritual development and the effects of our individual lifestyle choices on ourselves and our communities, both natural and human.

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