What is general education at CSB/SJU? It is the way we ensure that all of our students receive an education that develops them as deep thinkers; connects them to foundational thinkers of the past and present; connects them to other cultures, other societies, and other communities; connects them to each other; gives them the skills to flourish; and provides them with learning that is relevant and meaningful. Our Integrations Curriculum is built around four key elements: Connected Learning, Engaged Learning, Purposeful Learning, and Learning Core Skills.
The Integrations Curriculum is built on twelve learning outcomes critical to the Liberal Arts, each of which is built into two or three courses of the curriculum. The Liberal Arts tradition is one that emphasizes breadth of learning and over the centuries the value of broad learning has become increasingly worthwhile. Our students take courses in each of the key learning traditions, called Ways of Thinking, with the intent of becoming well-rounded learners.
But we also believe that this breadth of learning should be grounded and made relevant, and so our students take courses that are themed in the Ways of Thinking. While students take a class in each of the five Ways of Thinking, three of those courses must be on the same theme. Our current themes include Justice, Movement, and Truth.
The Integrations Curriculum places a premium on experiential-based learning and recognizes that learning takes place both inside, as well as outside, of the classroom. The curriculum has three Engagement requirements intended to provide students the opportunity to have guided experiences that allow students to reflect on what they have learned. Artistic Engagement recognizes the important learning that occurs when we engage with the arts. Experiential Engagement provides students an opportunity to use internships, research, and service opportunities to extend, apply, and refine their learning. And Global Engagement ensures that our students become thoughtful and informed global citizens. Each of these Engagement elements use a standardized assessment prompt (a customized DEAL prompt) to reflect upon their learning.
The Integrations Curriculum recognizes that learning should make a difference in the world. To this end our students take courses that explore the ways in which their education can be transformative. Students take two courses in Cultural and Social Difference in order to explore the ways in which social identities are formed, understood, and made to matter. The Theology requirements familiarize students with the core tenets of Christian and other religious traditions. And all of our students develop basic competence in a second language.
Learning Core Skills
Certain skills are critical for academic and professional success - the ability to speak and write well, to collaborate on group or team projects, to think critically about information, to meaningfully reflect on one's learning and thinking, and to read and use quantitative data. This part of the curriculum emphasizes building the core skills of speaking, writing, collaboration, information literacy, metacognition, and quantitative reasoning. Students take one course each in Learning Foundations and Learning Integration in addition to a course with a quantitative reasoning designation.
At the heart of the Integrations Curriculum is the emphasis on integrating learning: across classes, majors, and divisions; between experiences and coursework; and from a student's first semester to their final one. Some of our courses, such as the Thematic Focus coursees and the Learning Integration course, do this explicitly. But every class in the Integrations Curriculum has students submit an artifact and reflection on the artifact to the ePortfolio. This allows students to review and reflect on their learning across their four years, as well as to personalize a summary of their learning for future employers.
The Integrations Curriculum begins in Fall 2020 for the CSB/SJU Classes of 2024. It grew from the faculty’s recognition that cultivating a more cohesive experience for students would further enhance the student experience. It was guided by three design principles that put student interests and education first.
- Integration – the namesake goal – is achieved by asking students to make meaningful associations between courses through intentional reflection, themed courses and more, and providing framework that amplifies those connections.
- High-Impact Practices – seven high-impact practices are embedded across the curriculum to bolster engagement, performance, outcomes and satisfaction among all students. Examples include writing-intensive courses, common intellectual experiences and our Integrated Portfolio.
- Liberal Arts and Sciences Education – by recognizing the value of a liberal arts and sciences education, the Integrations Curriculum asks students to acquire a broad base of knowledge that develops a range of skills while also enriching personal and professional experiences.