Arts and Humanities

Arts and Humanities Core proposals

Course proposals for the Arts and Humanities Core should describe how your course fits within your Core discipline, and how your Core discipline is situated within the purpose and values of liberal education.

Components of your proposal

Your proposal will include both a narrative description and a syllabus.
As you develop your proposal, you should not assume that the goals of your courses are obvious. It may be helpful to remember that the members of the Council on Liberal Education, like students in liberal education courses, come from units across the University. The council's aim is to ensure that liberal education courses meet the University's goals and that these goals are clear to students and to faculty members.

Narrative proposal

Your narrative proposal should explain how the course meets:

  1. The general requirements of liberal education;
  2. The common goals for all Core courses; and
  3. The specific goals for the Arts and Humanities Core.

Effective proposals will provide concrete examples from the course that illustrate how the course meets these goals, e.g., from the course syllabus, detailed outlines, course assignments, laboratory material, student projects, or other instructional materials or methods.

Your proposal should also include two brief statements that address:

  1. How your course addresses one or more of the University's Student Learning Outcomes.
  2. How the learning associated with this outcome will be assessed.


Because it is written for students, your syllabus should contain the following elements.

Language to help students understand what liberal education is and how this course fulfills its mission as a liberal education course. A course description at the head of the syllabus followed by a paragraph describing the precise aims according to the guidelines is one efficient way of doing this.

A clear explanation of how the particular course fulfills the Arts and Humanities Core, so that students are aware of how and why the course meets LE requirements. This can be done through the stated course objectives, course topics, writing assignments, and required readings. You may also include supporting materials, such as lab manuals, sample assignments, or handouts.

Information about small group activities (small group discussion, debates, and so on) that will be employed in the course

A brief paragraph describing the Student Learning Outcome(s) the course addresses, how it addresses these outcomes, and how the learning that is associated with the outcome will be assessed.

Additional syllabus guidelines:

  • For existing courses, the syllabus must be for a term within the past two years.
  • For courses under development, the syllabus may be provisional but still must document how the course will meet the LE requirement(s), as indicated above. A list of lecture topics or discussion topics should be included, with the understanding that dates, schedules, and readings may be tentative.
  • The syllabus needs to conform to the University Senate Syllabi Policy, approved December 6, 2001. It should be in English, or with an English translation provided.
  • Formatting is often lost when material is copied and pasted into the system. Try to keep formatting simple.


All liberal education courses must:

  • Explicitly help students understand what liberal education is, how the content and the substance of this course enhance a liberal education, and what this means for them as students and as citizens.
  • Meet one or more of the Student Learning Outcomes (SLO). In the syllabus you submit, specify which of the SLO(s) that the course meets, how it addresses the outcome(s), and how the learning that is associated with the outcome(s) will be assessed.
  • Be offered on a regular schedule.
  • Be taught by regular faculty or under exceptional circumstances by instructors on continuing appointments. Departments proposing instructors other than regular faculty must provide documentation of how such instructors will be trained and supervised to ensure consistency and continuity in courses.
  • Be at least 3 credits (or at least 4 credits for biological or physical sciences, which must include a lab or field experience component).

All Core courses must:

  • Employ teaching and learning strategies that engage students with doing the work of the field, not just reading about it.
  • Include small group experiences (such as discussion sections or labs) and use writing as appropriate to the discipline to help students learn and reflect on their learning.
  • Not (except in rare and clearly justified cases) have prerequisites beyond the University's entrance requirements.

To meet more than one requirement:

  • A course may be approved to meet one Core or one theme or both a Core and a Theme. In the latter case, the Theme must be fully and meaningfully infused into the course (the old standard of "one-third of the course" will no longer be sufficient).
  • Courses may be submitted for both LE and WI designation.

Guidelines for Arts courses

Study in the arts broadens the understanding of how we think.  Arts courses that meet the Arts and Humanities Core requirement provide the opportunity to explore and engage with the concepts and processes of historical and contemporary practice in the arts. Such courses may be courses of artistic practice in, for example, creative writing, visual arts, music, theatre, dance, film, design, and collaborative arts. These courses will promote the open exploration of creative media in new ways as well as supporting traditional practice. These courses will explore the ways in which art derives its value from various histories and perspectives, means and methods. Among the specific traits fostered in such courses are thoughtful analysis, flexibility, experimentation, and ingenuity in problem solving and making use of complex concepts. These courses are designed to initiate a lasting connection to the arts for students as creators, viewers, or participants.

To satisfy the Arts and Humanities Core requirement in Arts a course must meet these criteria:

  • Students create their own artistic efforts.
  • Students reflect on their artistic efforts in writing or in discussion that develops awareness of the considerations that guide artistic practice and response.
  • Students become aware of why and how artists select their content, media, and method.
  • Students develop an understanding of the arts in relation to communities in and for which art is created.
  • Students examine how the historical dimensions of time, place, and culture inform artistic practice.

Guidelines for Humanistic Studies courses

The second group, Humanistic Studies, includes such disciplines as art history, classics, cultural studies, design history, film and media studies, philosophy, and religious studies. Works in Humanistic Studies reflect on the common and familiar human condition—our human limitations and unique failures together with our distinctive human capacities and achievements. Courses in this group examine works that invite or compel critical thought. Reflection on such works will enrich students' lives and make them more thoughtful and perceptive members of our communities.

To satisfy the Arts and Humanities Core requirement in Humanistic Studies a course must meet these criteria:

  • Students engage in detailed analysis of and reflection on some humanistic literature or creative product—for example, a philosophical essay, a religious treatise, a work of cultural commentary, or a documentary film.
  • Students develop their understanding of the works or cultural practices they consider. Where appropriate (for example, in considering a philosophical work) they engage in critical evaluation of the work.
  • Students examine how the work under consideration arose out of its cultural or historical context.
  • The course explores the role that the work plays in the larger society of which it is a part.