About our Curriculum
Augustana is distinct within the University of Alberta as a faculty diverse in our approaches to knowledge and how the world is understood. Our Faculty’s coherence is its commitment to the liberal arts and sciences which orients our programs toward broad education, including significant engagement with the Humanities, Social and Natural Sciences, Fine Arts, and Interdisciplinary Studies. A commitment to the liberal arts and sciences fosters our values to develop skills that assist in the interpretation of the world in which we live, a sensibility oriented toward civic responsibility as part of the educational experience, and the emergence of personal wholeness that occurs with liberal education.
Thus the core curriculum is central to Augustana’s liberal arts and sciences degree programs for two reasons:
- it assures breadth so that students are more than narrow experts
- it inculcates the values that are core/common within the Augustana Faculty.
Augustana's core consists of 33 cr total (note that a single course may not fulfill more than one core requirement in a student’s program):
- 15 cr from three of the following five categories with no more than 6 cr in one. Courses which satisfy these requirements may overlap with a student’s major.
- Integrating knowledge
- Environmental sustainability
- Diversity & global studies
- Experiential learning
- Creative & imaginative process
- 21 cr of breadth non-overlapping with a student’s first major
- 3 cr Fine Arts
- 6 cr Humanities
- 6 cr Science
- 6 cr Social Science
The Augustana curriculum also includes the principle of skill requirements being met by the major:
The Augustana Core
The Augustana Core comprises five categories. Three of them reflect pedagogical priorities: Experiential Learning, Integrating Knowledge, and Creative and Imaginative Process. The other two - Environmental Sustainability and Diversity & Global Studies - expose students to some of the most compelling issues of our times. Students must complete 15 in at least 3 of these 5 categories.
Courses in the Creative and Imaginative category have students participate in active learning that experientially engages some practice of artistic expression within such disciplines as Music, Drama, Visual Art, and Creative Writing. To understand cultural legacies and their contemporary relevance students need to experience the depth, complexity and nuanced implications of making their own expressive choices; to experience the discovery, and recovery of meaning in acts of creation; and to experience the meaningfulness of connecting such work with a larger world. In this category students are expected to be practitioners and not merely spectators.
Courses in the Diversity and Global Studies category give students the knowledge base and theoretical skills to understand and function creatively within our diverse, complex and rapidly changing world and, not least, to contribute to a sustainable planetary future.
Courses in the Environmental Sustainability category foster in students a greater understanding and critical assessment of the relationship among environment, resources, and society. Sustainability stems from the term sustainable development, which is defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs” (United Nations 1987). In these times of emerging social, economic and environmental stressors, society requires increased awareness, knowledge and skills to face a rapidly changing ecological and cultural reality. The interdisciplinary nature of this category allows the students to integrate knowledge to develop complex solutions to multifaceted problems. These solutions extend beyond theory into personal processes, comprehension and practical action.
Courses in the Experiential Learning category combine theoretical approaches and facilitated experiences-generally outside of the traditional university classroom. Taking students out of the classroom into a new setting may initially lead to discomfort, but generally results in significant learning about course content and about themselves. These courses also speak to the practical application of a Liberal Arts education as students take their learning out into the world beyond the academy.
Courses in the Integrating Knowledge category foster in our students the ability to integrate knowledge across disciplines. Among other things, students should gain an understanding of and critically reflect on the relationship between modes of inquiry in different disciplines and the fact that no single approach to knowledge provides all the answers.
A unique feature of the new curriculum for Augustana’s liberal arts and sciences degree programs is that critical thinking, writing, speaking, and information literacy skills requirements must be met within the major.
The ability to think critically is crucial to any student’s success in university. While different disciplines emphasize different skills within the broad aegis of critical thinking, the following abilities provide at least a partial definition of this skill. Students should be able to recognize arguments and distinguish them from exposition, distinguish premises from conclusions, evaluate the validity of arguments, recognize the role of emotive language, and ambiguity in arguments, identify unstated assumptions, assemble and evaluate evidence to construct an argument or defend a position, and analyze causal factors and identify how they influence effects.
Because of the increasing dependence of academia and the general populace on an ever-broadening quantity of information existing in a growing range of type of sources of information, it is important that individual disciplines include an Information Literacy requirement within their programs. The following list, found on the Augustana Library website, identifies more specifically the skills that students should possess to satisfy this requirement. An information literate individual is able to determine the extent of information needed, access the needed information effectively and efficiently, evaluate information and its sources critically, incorporate selected information into their knowledge base, use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose, and understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and access and use information ethically and legally (see ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. 2000. www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlstandards/informationliteracycompetency.htm).
The ability to speak clearly and well in public is another skill that the faculty has recognized as an important facet to be developed in university students. However, given the large amount of class time that must be devoted to allow students to give oral presentations, the speaking skill requirement is clearly the most problematic for our disciplines. Consequently, disciplines have proposed a variety of models for satisfying this requirement.
There is little doubt that one of the principal goals of the university is to teach students to write well. Augustana has demonstrated its commitment to this goal by requiring writing assignments such as essays, assignments, or lab reports as regular course components in a wide range of courses offered by most disciplines. This commitment demonstrates a strong desire to encourage writing across the curriculum, and the inclusion of writing skills in the skills list reinforces this commitment. This commitment can also be seen in the establishment of the Writing Centre, and in the encouragement that all disciplines recommend that their students consult this centre.