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ELA Goals and Learning Outcomes

The four interdisciplinary core courses provide a common learning experience and body of knowledge that fosters a sense of community. They also strengthen academic skills such as proficient writing and critical thinking that apply to all academic majors. In recognition of the complexity of the linkages between humans and the natural world, each of these courses taps expertise and skills from a variety of disciplines.

The program consists of four core courses (15 credits), and 7 additional courses (21-22 credits) from choices in seven distribution categories. To demonstrate proficiency, students place their work documenting satisfactory completion of all learning outcomes in an electronic portfolio.

I. Systems Thinking: Students will understand the structure and dynamics of representative social and natural systems and their interrelationships.

  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of social systems and their historical development.

  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of ecological systems and how they have been historically conceived.

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to integrate knowledge of social and ecological systems to predict, assess, and analyze the effects of human activities.

II. Critical Thinking and Communication: Students will develop and apply strong problem-solving skills and communication skills.

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate complex issues and ideas to diverse audiences in a variety of media.

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to evaluate reasoning and to create effective arguments that address these issues.

  • Students will demonstrate information literacy through the ability to access, understand, apply, and evaluate sources of information critically and to distinguish fact from opinion.

  • Students will apply these skills in service to their community.

III. Environmental Awareness: Students will understand the factors contributing to our domestic and global ecological challenges and demonstrate the ability to evaluate proposals for creating a more sustainable future.

  • Students will understand contemporary environmental issues such as climate change, resource depletion and biodiversity loss as well as the complexity of proposed solutions.

  • Students will understand the history of land use and the changing relationship between humans and nature over time.

  • Students will be able to articulate a positive vision for a just and sustainable society.

IV. Reflective Self Awareness and Responsibility: Students will demonstrate ethical responsibility, aesthetic sensitivity, and multicultural awareness.

  • Students will demonstrate reflective self-awareness of their strengths and weaknesses.

  • Students will demonstrate empathy for others and the ability to entertain multiple perspectives.

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to clearly identify the ethical dimensions of environmental issues.

  • Students will understand the roles that concepts such as race, gender, sexual identity, religion, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity may play in identifying problems or responding to events.

  • Students will demonstrate an ability to respond to and reason about aesthetic considerations.

V. Liberal Arts Understanding: Students will demonstrate interdisciplinary integration of traditional liberal arts areas.

  • Students will demonstrate familiarity with the subject matter and methodologies of the arts, humanities, natural sciences, mathematics, and social sciences.

  • Students will draw on the knowledge base or methodologies of two or more disciplines to analyze, evaluate, or solve a complex problem.

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to use quantitative and qualitative methodologies to interpret and analyze natural and social phenomena.

All ELA courses must make explicit connections between the course content and the ELA theme: Perspectives on the Environment.


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