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What is the most appropriate breadth designation for a course my department is proposing?
Breadth designations are administered by the College of Letters and Science, and indicate a course has been reviewed to meet the requirements for the L&S undergraduate degree (Natural Science, Humanities/Literature/Arts, and Social Studies requirements). Many schools and colleges also use the L&S breadth designations to indicate to students how they may meet their general education requirements.
Guidance Regarding Breadth Designations
Courses with a breadth designation indicate to students that the course
meets university breadth requirements as well as the additional L&S breadth requirements. A course may be eligible for breadth if it has
broad content in one of the breadth categories described below and has Liberal Arts and Science (LAS) designation (LAS is designated with a "C" and is automatically assigned to nearly all L&S courses; departments outside of L&S can also request a Liberal Arts and Science (LAS), Level, and Breadth Designations - Review and criteria. To request a breadth designation for a
course, a course change proposal must be submitted through the online course proposal system, with a brief statement explaining why the
breadth designation is appropriate. A course may only have one breadth
designation, and the most appropriate may be requested from the
following list. Note: an attribute should only be requested for a
"topics" course if, and only if every course taught within the topic will always
convey that attribute.
N—Natural Science. Satisfies the Natural Science requirement but not the Biological or Physical Science requirement.
W—Either Social Science or Natural Science*
X—Either Humanities or Natural Science*
Y—Either Biological Science or Social Science*
Z—Either Humanities or Social Science*
*Please note that these four interdivisional breadth designations are reserved for those rare courses that will always meet both types of breadth represented. The student may appropriately be awarded credit for having completed either requirement, depending on the individual student's needs.
Per L&S policy, the following types of courses do not count toward the breadth requirement: elementary-level courses in mathematics; elementary- and intermediate-level courses in foreign language or courses in conversation and composition in a foreign language; English composition; directed study/independent study courses; practical and skill courses such as elementary-level courses in journalism, public speaking, acting, and theater production; courses in art; and courses in music performance. In addition, the following types of courses are inappropriate for satisfying the breadth requirement, and so lack breadth designation: courses that are highly specialized or narrowly pre-professional in nature; and internships, practicums, directed study, tutorials, senior theses, and other courses whose content is negotiated between students and faculty on an individual basis.
The goal of the descriptions below is to provide guidance and assist faculty and staff in determining whether a given course might be eligible for breadth designation in Liberal Arts and Science. This document is not intended to be prescriptive in terms of learning objectives, but rather, it is meant to convey the values and goals that are consistent with a Liberal Arts and Science perspective.
THE ARTS & HUMANITIES (Breadth designations H, L, X, or Z)
Courses in the Arts and Humanities all share the pursuit of understanding and communicating the exploration of the human experience, and the meaning of historical and cultural phenomena, whether through creative expression, reflection, or interpretation. Students are required to take a Literature courses (L) as part of their Humanities requirement.
Ideally, after completing an Arts & Humanities course, a student should be able to:
• comprehend, and employ various approaches to interpreting and creating cultural artifacts such as works of art, literature, music, architecture, philosophy, film, etc.
• demonstrate knowledge of major movements, trends, or events in the development of world culture
• demonstrate an appreciation of the complexities of the interpretative process within a historical context
• apply critical approaches to the “texts”/works and alternative ways of considering them
• think critically about his or her own culture and the larger global community
"Literature" courses (designated with an "L") are a sub-set of the Humanities, and "L" courses may be used to meet both the "literature" or the broader "Humanities" requirements. The focus of these courses is principally devoted to the reading and discussion of prose fiction, poetry, drama, and "belles lettres," and the interpretation of these works, rather than their application to other areas of study. The course titles generally include the word "literature."
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Breadth Designations S, W, Y, or Z)
Courses in the Social Science discipline all rely upon methods of data collection (either qualitative or quantitative), data analysis, or data interpretation that characterize their factual, methodological, institutional, and theoretical inquiry into the systematic study of humans/groups and institutions/society.
Ideally, after completing a Social Science course, a student should be able to:
• think critically about their own societies and the larger global community
• demonstrate knowledge of one or more methodologies
• demonstrate knowledge of one or more theoretical approaches
• synthesize and apply social science concepts
• view issues from multiple perspectives
Courses in the Natural Sciences are characterized by the systematic study of the natural and physical world, and with the use of abstraction and logical reasoning. These courses typically involve a laboratory component. As part of their overall Natural Sciences requirements, students are required to take both Biological and Physical Sciences (areas and designations described below). Courses that do not fit into those two categories, such as Computer Science, Mathematics, and Statistics, may have N, W, or Y designations.
PHYSICAL SCIENCES (Breadth designation P)
Courses in the Physical Sciences involve the systematic study of objective information about the physical world, broadly defined, and include areas of study such as Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, and Earth Science (atmospheric science, oceanography). Students are required to take Physical Science credits as part of their Natural Sciences requirement. Courses with this designation may meet Physical Science requirements or the broader Natural Science breadth requirements.
BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (Breadth designations B or Y)
Courses in the Biological Sciences all deal with the systematic study of the structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy of living organisms. Students are required to take Biological Science credits as part of their Natural Sciences requirement. Courses with this designation may meet Biological Science requirements or the broader Natural Science breadth requirements.
Ideally, after completing a Physical Science or Biological Science course, a student should be able to:
• demonstrate knowledge of scientific concepts and assumptions
• analyze and interpret scientific evidence
• demonstrate knowledge of the scientific method
• demonstrate understanding of scientific reasoning, and determine when scientific information supports a given conclusion.
• think critically about the impact of scientific discovery on society