*For students entering Bradley University on or after Fall 2016. Students entering Bradley University before Fall 2016 should refer to the General Education requirements articulated in their Undergraduate Catalog year.

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Areas of Inquiry

The Bradley Core Curriculum emphasizes eight “Areas of Inquiry” that will more deeply engage students in the process of intellectual growth.

  • Communication (CM) – Bradley graduates, as creative and critical thinkers, will communicate effectively in their personal and professional lives. 
  • Fine Arts (FA) – Bradley graduates will understand and appreciate the arts as a vital human experience interwoven with other humanistic disciplines. 
  • Global Perspectives (GP) – Bradley graduates will enhance their global perspectives by becoming knowledgeable about global systems, the forces that shape those systems and cultures of the world.
  • Humanities (HU) – Bradley graduates will think reflectively about the human condition, understand the forces that have shaped human history and ponder perennial ethical, religious and existential issues. 
  • Knowledge and Reasoning in the Natural Sciences (NS) – Bradley graduates will develop scientific reasoning skills to interpret technical information with the sophistication necessary to be contributing members of a knowledge-based society.
  • Knowledge and Reasoning in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (SB) – Bradley graduates, as constructive and responsible members of society, will understand themselves in relation to others and to social institutions. 
  • Multidisciplinary Integration (MI) – Bradley graduates will understand the value of integrating knowledge, skills and approaches to inquiry across disciplinary boundaries. 
  • Quantitative Reasoning (QR) – Bradley graduates will understand and effectively engage in formal reasoning and applied quantitative reasoning.

Communication (CM) 

Bradley graduates will be effective verbal and written communicators. Bradley graduates, as creative and critical thinkers, will communicate effectively in their personal and professional lives. Writing and reading are essential skills that must be continually strengthened. Oral communication is similarly critical to effective formal and informal interaction. Effective communication is vital to ethical and sustainable societies. 

In the Communication Area of Inquiry, students must select one course that focuses on Oral Communication (OC) and two courses that focus on Writing (W1 and W2). Students are encouraged to take the OC and W1 courses during their freshman year and the W2 course no later than their junior year.

Curricular Elements

  • CM1 Understand the processes and functions of human communication.
  • CM2 Communicate skillfully with attention to audience, cultural differences, clarity, logic, coherence, evidence and style.
  • CM3 Listen and read with interpretive and analytical proficiency.
  • CM4 Give and receive constructive criticism in a collegial environment.
  • CM5 Differentiate between ethical and unethical communications, including one’s own.

Fine Arts (FA)

Bradley graduates will understand and appreciate the arts as a vital human experience interwoven with other humanistic disciplines. The fine arts span the entirety of human history, influencing, reflecting and documenting profound experiences of individuals and cultures. Their dynamic evolution necessitates an understanding of how classical foundations inform modern expression. Informed aesthetic judgments contribute to the creation of dynamic living and working environments and new media and technologies. Through knowledge and experience of aesthetic principles, Bradley graduates will gain a deeper understanding of themselves and an appreciation for the socioeconomic impact of the arts and design.

Curricular Elements

  • FA1 Demonstrate knowledge about essential historical and contemporary contributions of the arts and use that knowledge to articulate the significance of the arts as vital human and cultural expressions.
  • FA2 Develop an appropriate vocabulary of theoretical concepts, techniques and goals inherent in artistic expression and apply that vocabulary to describe artistic experiences.
  • FA3 Identify and reflect on characteristics of individual art forms as well as shared elements across a representative selection of performing, visual, literary, interactive and emerging arts.
  • FA4 Engage the arts with sensitivity and knowledge so as to incorporate the arts into their professional disciplines and personal lives.

Global Perspectives (GP)

Bradley graduates will enhance their global perspectives by becoming knowledgeable about global systems, the forces that shape those systems and cultures of the world. Communication technologies, economic relationships and the flow of people across national borders have created an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. Yet, having grown up in a time when one country has demonstrated unprecedented political, economic and cultural influence around the globe, students can have a difficult time understanding how other cultures and societies are distinct from one’s own or how others might take a negative or confrontational view of one’s own culture or society. For these reasons, a well-developed global perspective that includes understanding of the human and natural systems that shape our individual and common futures and the diverse peoples of the world is essential for life in the 21st century. 

In the Global Perspectives Area of Inquiry students may select courses that focus on either global systems or world cultures. Students who complete two courses in this Area of Inquiry are strongly recommended to select both a global systems course and a world cultures course. Not only are global systems and world cultures complementary components of a comprehensive global perspective, but also completion of both types of courses furthers the general education goal of increasing each student’s breadth of knowledge. 

Global Systems (GS)

Bradley graduates will understand global systems — the political, economic, social, technological and ecological interconnectedness of our current global society. They will also understand the forces shaping these systems and the relevance of these systems for their local and national communities. This knowledge is essential for participating effectively in the interactions that characterize an interdependent world.

Curricular Elements

  • GS1 Recognize and appreciate the complex interconnections and interdependence of global political, economic, social, technological and ecological systems.
  • GS2 Identify, analyze, interpret and synthesize the forces that shape evolving global systems and the resulting impacts of those forces and systems on current and future world events.
  • GS3 Be able to discuss key ways in which contemporary global systems and issues impact individuals and their communities.
  • GS4 Relate global systems to an increasingly complex work, civic and personal environment and explore ways as responsible individuals to address global issues, e.g., political, economic, social or environmental problems of worldwide scope.

World Cultures (WC)

Bradley graduates will study and analyze various contemporary world cultures, including their historical development, institutions, values, art and religion. Knowledge of multiple cultural perspectives introduces alternate ways of thinking and strengthens one’s ability to relate to others. The understanding of diverse cultures is essential for engaging productively in our globalized society and contributing to the welfare of humanity. An important goal is to have students experience other cultures and to use what they learn about others’ experiences to reflect critically on their own ways of understanding the world.

Curricular Elements

  • WC1 Understand the values, attitudes, social structures, politics, artistic practices, religious traditions, languages, literatures or histories of (1) multiple cultures or countries or (2) a single culture or country analyzed within a regional, transnational or global context.
  • WC2 Understand issues of cultural difference, ethnocentrism, intolerance and cultural conflict.
  • WC3 Develop skills for working as ethical, compassionate, non-ethnocentric actors with the dynamic forces at work in an increasingly diverse and globalized society. 

Study Abroad: The World Cultures component of Global Perspectives can be satisfied by either completing an approved World Cultures course or by completing a full academic semester (12 hours minimum) or year abroad. While many students completing a full semester study abroad program will take courses that qualify as World Cultures courses this is not required. Because a full academic semester abroad comprises a significant cultural experience, it will satisfy the World Cultures requirement without additional course work

Humanities (HU) 

Bradley graduates will think reflectively about the human condition, understand the forces that have shaped human history and ponder perennial ethical, religious and existential issues. Study of the humanities is fundamental to leading an informed and reflective life, which contributes directly to students’ present and future lives as civically engaged, critically thoughtful, aesthetically cultured and ethically minded individuals.

The Humanities Area of Inquiry seeks to uniquely address Lydia Moss Bradley’s commitment to ethical learning through a critical examination of values. The study of values focuses on intellectual justifications of the aims, goals and ideals that guide human conduct. The humanities, through the study of history, literature, philosophy and religious studies, help students to better understand themselves, their communities, nations and the world through the focal lens of the human experience.

  • Through the study of history, students learn about the complexities of the past and patterns of change, and are thereby better able to understand contemporary events and developments.
  • Through the study of literature, students learn broadly and deeply about the human condition, diverse cultures and times, and the relevance and power of literary works produced by the creative imagination.
  • Through the study of philosophy, students are aided in analyzing some of the fundamental questions regarding life and human experience.
  • And through religious studies, students learn about religious experience as well as those sacred beliefs and practices that have been central to cultures throughout time.

The Humanities Areas of Inquiry is one in which students have the option of completing one or two courses. Humanities faculty strongly recommend that students taking two courses in Humanities select courses from two different subjects — history, literature, philosophy or religion.

Curricular Elements

  • HU1 Develop the skills of historical, philosophical, religious, and/or literary analysis in relation to human values and ethical decision-making.
  • HU2 Engage in sustained and critical reading of diverse literary, philosophical, religious and/or historical works.
  • HU3 Learn how historical, cultural, philosophical and/or religious factors have shaped perceptions, values and actions, individual and collective identities, and communities and cultures.
  • HU4 Foster the ability to communicate articulately about historical events, philosophical ideas, religious beliefs and practice, and/or diverse literary works.
  • HU5 Foster students’ abilities to make responsible and productive choices as civically engaged, critically thoughtful, aesthetically cultured and ethically minded citizens.

Knowledge and Reasoning in the Natural Sciences (NS)

Bradley graduates will develop scientific reasoning skills supported by an integrated knowledge of the natural sciences to interpret technical information with the sophistication necessary to be contributing members of a knowledge-based society. Curiosity about the natural world and recognition of the rapidly expanding body of scientific information are essential to success and fulfillment in contemporary society.

Curricular Elements

  • NS1 Recognize science as an ongoing process, guided by ethical standards of practice, that generates and refines knowledge.
  • NS2 Engage in multiple aspects of the scientific process.
  • NS3 Apply scientific principles in their personal and professional lives as active members of their communities. 

Knowledge and Reasoning in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (SB)

Bradley graduates, as constructive and responsible members of society, will understand themselves in relation to others and to social institutions. Essential to this relationship is an understanding of the economic, political, psychological and social dynamics that shape contemporary society. Individuals equipped with methods of inquiry and analysis in the social and behavioral sciences, an understanding of how social forces interact and a foundation in ethics can participate effectively and ethically in political processes, markets and social institutions at local, national and global levels.

Curricular Elements

  • SB1 Articulate social and behavioral theories of the factors that shape society.
  • SB2 Recognize the assumptions and supporting evidence for social and behavioral theories.
  • SB3 Apply knowledge from the social and behavioral sciences to social issues and problems.
  • SB4 Describe the reciprocal relationships between individuals and social communities.
  • SB5 Acquire knowledge of the standards that social and behavioral scientists use for evidence-based inquiry in the gathering, evaluation and presentation of information.
  • SB6 Recognize ethical issues that arise in the social and behavioral sciences.
  • SB7 Describe the connections between the various social and behavioral sciences.
  • SB8 Gain the skills and knowledge necessary to apply lessons learned from the social and behavioral sciences in their everyday behavior at work, at home and in their communities.

Multidisciplinary Integration (MI)

Bradley graduates will understand the value of integrating knowledge, skills and approaches to inquiry across disciplinary boundaries. The Bradley Core Curriculum exposes students to different disciplinary perspectives and ways of knowing, but students must also see the connections between the existing bodies of human knowledge and schools of thought and be able to integrate them. The practical demands of employment and research in a dynamic, diverse, specializing and globalizing world point to the importance of experience with multidisciplinary problem-solving and teamwork. More importantly, complex problems in modern society require the integration of knowledge and techniques from multiple disciplines. 

Courses that promote critical thinking and problem-solving across multiple disciplines can take a variety of forms, ranging from a critical exploration of a broad theme from multiple perspectives to a multidisciplinary capstone course. Examples of best practices for pedagogy in this category include but are not limited to the following:

  1. First-year seminars that explore complex issues or emerging areas of research that bridge two or more disparate fields of study;
  2. Lower-division courses that critically examine broad themes by incorporating the scholarly traditions and methods of inquiry from multiple disciplines but require little or no pre-requisite knowledge;
  3. Upper-division courses that tackle complex issues requiring some background knowledge in one or more of the fields of study that are being integrated; and
  4. Capstone courses that demand collaborative problem-solving or scholarship across disciplines.

Curricular Elements 

  • MI1 Connect knowledge, standards and perspectives from two or more disparate fields of study to explore broad themes or complex problems.
  • MI2 Adapt and apply skills, abilities, theories or methodologies gained from two or more disparate fields of study to create a deeper understanding of a complex topic or solve complex problems.
  • MI3 Acquire and use a shared vocabulary that allows communication across disciplinary boundaries.
  • MI4 Articulate how integrating two or more disparate fields of study enables novel insights or deeper understanding of complex problems.

Quantitative Reasoning (QR)

Bradley graduates will understand and effectively engage in formal reasoning and applied quantitative reasoning. The ability to reason logically is essential for success in society and provides opportunities for intellectual fulfillment. Experience with formal reasoning helps students develop as critical thinkers who approach their choices and actions with careful thought. In today’s data-drenched society, substantial quantitative reasoning skills are increasingly necessary for an educated member of society. In order to act effectively as citizens, students must be familiar with how quantitative information and methods are properly used when making persuasive arguments.

Curricular Elements

  • QR1 Apply structured inquiry, problem-solving skills and creative thought when pursuing practical and abstract investigation.
  • QR2 Interpret information presented in mathematical forms (e.g., equations, graphs, diagrams, tables, words).
  • QR3 Convert relevant information into various mathematical forms (e.g., equations, graphs, diagrams, tables, words).
  • QR4 Use quantitative means (e.g., algebraic, geometric, and statistical methods) to solve problems.
  • QR5 Recognize the appropriateness and limitations of mathematical and statistical models.
  • QR6 Identify and evaluate important assumptions in estimation, modeling and/or data analysis.
  • QR7 Make judgments and draw appropriate conclusions based on the quantitative analysis of data.
  • QR8 Recognize issues related to the valid and ethical use of quantitative information.
  • QR9 Appreciate the intrinsic value of mathematical inquiry while supporting and deepening quantitative literacy within society.
  • QR10 Develop mathematical reasoning and problem-solving skills in settings the college graduate may encounter in the future.