Common Curriculum Learning Goals

Cross-disciplinary goals:

First Year Seminar

This two-semester course addresses the Undergraduate Learning Goals that call for the development of clear thinking and communication skills, while helping students establish patterns of life-long learning and integrating knowledge of self and the world.

Students will improve their writing by:

  • Composing multiple papers in both semesters
  • Writing a major research paper in the second semester
  • Revising all papers after peer and instructor review
  • Learning to improve organization and mechanics, discover their own voice, and develop a sense of audience

Students will improve their discussion skills by:

  • Participating in discussion based classes
  • Receiving explicit instruction on discussion techniques
  • Practicing leading discussions
  • Receiving periodic feedback on their discussion skills

Students will improve their public speaking ability by:

  • Practicing public speaking over the year
  • Practicing and presenting a formal oral presentation on their research paper
  • Receiving peer and instructor feedback

Students will improve their critical thinking by:

  • Engaging in class discussions that focus on examination of arguments and evidence
  • Reading and evaluating increasingly challenging texts
  • Receiving feedback on essays that focus on critical thinking
  • Carefully examining multiple points of view in their research papers

Students will improve their understanding of information literacy by:

  • Completing a variety of small research tasks connected with librarian presentations
  • Learning how to conduct refined searches and evaluate a variety of sources in the research paper
  • Gaining an understanding of plagiarism and learning academic standards for citations

Students will learn some disciplinary content that integrates self and society by:

  • Reading to prepare for class, discussing material, applying critical thinking skills to discussion, writing papers, and completing the research paper

Ethics Common Seminar

This course provides a capstone to the liberal arts experience by encouraging students to explore competing ethical approaches, and wrestling with difficult ethical issues. This experience prepares students for a life-long exploration of fundamental questions.

Students will:

  • Identify ethical issues inherent in situations common in modern life
  • Articulate multiple perspectives on contested ethical issues
  • Articulate coherent arguments, grounded in ethical and other scholarly perspectives, in support of their own normative judgments about contested ethical issues
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the conceptual foundations of the ethical and other scholarly perspectives addressed in the course

Gender (GE) Learning Goals

As two single sex educational institutions founded by Benedictine men and women, CSB and SJU have been shaped by different gender perspectives and experiences.  The Gender requirement honors that tradition and prepares our students for an effective role in the world by helping them to understand how gender shapes the experience of both men and women.  By studying the role of gender in a particular course content, they will be better able to "define what binds together and what separates the various segments of humanity."

Students will:

  • Use gender as a primary lens of analysis for examining course content
  • Identify the gendered perspectives and experiences as they manifest themselves within course content.  Students must identify at least two gendered perspectives across the gender spectrum (feminine, masculine, trans, queer, etc.)
  • Articulate how gender intersects with at least one of the following:  race, class, ethnicity, nationality, or sexuality
  • Demonstrate ability to analyze individual or local experiences of gender in light of relevant broader structural and/or theoretical contexts

Intercultural Learning

The Intercultural requirement helps prepare students for the increasingly diverse world they inhabit in two fundamental ways. First, it creates an understanding that we are all products of a particular culture, and that our perspective on the world grows from that background.  Second, it enables our students to learn enough about another culture to realize that there is always diversity beneath the stereotypes. Armed with these two insights, our graduates are able to work more effectively with others at home and abroad.

Students will:

  • Demonstrate a level of understanding of another culture, including the awareness that it is neither monolithic nor static 
  • Demonstrate an understanding that their perspective on the world is shaped in certain ways by their particular background 
  • Demonstrate an awareness that when we encounter another culture, we filter the new experience through established perspectives, making it more difficult to uncover our common humanity and the reasons for our differences 

*The Joint Faculty Assembly approved these requirements incrementally.  The major portion came between September 2006 and April 2007. Experiential Learning was added in January 2009, followed by the Intercultural requirement in May 2009.  

Experiential Learning

The Experiential Learning requirement asks students to practice their ability to learn independently by taking a prior knowledge/skill, applying it in a more fluid learning environment that they have designed, and then reflecting on how the entire experience deepened their understanding.  

Students will: 

  • Demonstrate the ability to integrate and apply knowledge and skills gained from one or more courses in activities that extend beyond the traditional classroom 
  • Demonstrate specific ways in which the experiential-learning activities deepen their understanding of the knowledge and skills gained through traditional course work 

Disciplinary goals:

CSB and SJU require that students take courses in the Fine Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences. While each of these areas stimulate growth in particular ways, collectively they immerse students in different approaches to understanding and the creation of value.  This background generates a more flexible, creative quest for solutions to new problems that distinguishes liberally educated people from those with narrow, technical training.

Natural Science

The Natural Sciences introduce students to a systematic, empirical study of our world, while enhancing analytic skills and precise communication.

Students will:

  • Conduct a scientific investigation as part of a lab or field work to answer a given question     
  • Solve or analyze challenging problems using qualitative and/or quantitative sources of information 
  • Communicate clearly and concisely the methods, results, and conclusions of a scientific investigation 
  • Evaluate information, ideas and scientific claims using appropriate criteria.


Study in the Humanities introduces us to new people, places, perspectives and ideas through a careful exploration of texts about and by those "others."  As they explore new worlds, students also examine universal issues like identity, community, values, and meaning.

Students will:

  • Engage with texts using the analytic, critical, sympathetic, and/or speculative methods of one of the Humanities disciplines.   
  • Demonstrate critical thinking and effective communication through writing about and discussion of the examined texts. 

Social Science

The Social Sciences apply scientific methods to the study of human beings, social forces, and institutions.  Students learn a way of examining the world, practice careful analytic thinking, and develop deeper insights into their own experience.

Students will:

  • Demonstrate understanding of basic facts and theories of a social science discipline 
  • Acquire knowledge that enables them to make responsible social, civic and personal choices.  
  • Make critical social science arguments supported by evidence appropriate to an introductory level.

Fine Arts

The Fine Arts requirement helps students deepen their understanding of an area of the arts, and develop the ability to apply analytic skills to aesthetic judgment.

Students will:

  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the historical, theoretical or applied aspect of one of the fine arts
  • Identify and describe a range of contrasting styles within one of the fine arts 
  • Experience the creative process through performance/artistic production and or through observation of demonstrations, workshops, live performances, etc
  • Apply analytical skills in exercising artistic discrimination and aesthetic judgment 
  • Describe how the arts reflect and influence the individual and society

Fine Arts Experience

The Fine Arts Experience insures an early immersion in a range of fine arts, establishing a base that students can build on throughout their lives.

Students will:

  • Be exposed to a wide variety of artistic expression through attending fine arts presentations on campus and reflecting upon those experiences 
  • Learn appropriate audience decorum for these events and have opportunities to demonstrate this behavior
  • Better understand and appreciate the visual and performing arts as an expression of the human condition.

Department goals:

Our vision of a liberal education also includes courses in several specific disciplines.  Each contributes in unique ways while helping to produce graduates with skills that will enable them to compete in a changing world.


The Mathematics requirement gives students experience with the power and limitations of mathematical reasoning as an approach to solving problems in other disciplines and in everyday life.

Students will:

  • Apply appropriate techniques to solve mathematical problems.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the mathematical concepts which underlie the techniques they use.
  • Apply appropriate mathematical techniques to investigate problems from other disciplines or everyday life.

Goals for THEO 111: Theological Explorations (as of fall 2015)

Taken together, the two Theology courses make a significant contribution to a graduate's understanding of the core values of the founding institutions. More specifically, the first course provides a basic knowledge of the Christian tradition, and an understanding of the Benedictine approach within that tradition. 

Students will demonstrate:

  • A capacity to think critically and historically about some principal sources (especially Sacred Scripture), doctrines, and themes that shape Christian theology.
  • An ability to explain differing viewpoints on at least one contemporary theological issue.
  • An ability to apply at least one aspect of the Benedictine tradition to at least one of the issues addressed in the course.

Goals for TU (Theology Upper Division) Courses

Students will demonstrate an ability to:

  • Articulate a basic knowledge and a theological understanding of a specific religious topic or theme
  • Interpret religious texts and phenomena in their historical and cultural contexts
  • Analyze at least one contemporary issue based on their theological knowledge.

Global Language

The study of a world language fosters communication skills while helping students understand cultural patterns other than their own and gaining a broader outlook on historical and contemporary issues.  The precise requirements differ by area as follows.

Modern European Languages

Students will:

  • Demonstrate a minimum proficiency level of Intermediate-Low, as defined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, in at least two of the four language skills
  • (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). Such a level means that students have a functional command of the target language that allows them to communicate limited basic needs and ideas, and negotiate simple situations
  • Demonstrate awareness of a variety of cultural contexts in which the target language is used, and have a functional command of the basic rules of social interaction in that language

Classical Languages

Students will:

  • Have a functional command of the target language that allows them to read ancient texts of moderate difficulty with the aid of a dictionary
  • Demonstrate awareness of the cultural contexts being studied

Asian Languages

Students will:

  • Demonstrate a minimum proficiency level of novice-high for speaking, and novice-mid for reading and writing. Such levels mean that students have a functional command of the target language that allows them to communicate basic needs
  • Demonstrate awareness of the cultural contexts being studied

English (for non-native speakers)

Students will:

  • Demonstrate a minimum proficiency level of Advanced, as defined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, in at least three of the four language skills 
  • Demonstrate the academic English language skills sufficient to complete college-level work


Students will:

  • Demonstrate appropriate ability to work independently in their major discipline.
  • Demonstrate appropriate ability to integrate a variety of resources and learning from their major and, when appropriate, from across their undergraduate studies.
  • Demonstrate appropriate ability to present and discuss their work.

Last updated by Ken Jones, April 26, 2013 (updates to TH,GE, and MT learning goals made 8/13/15 by L Schmitz)