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Volunteer Core Curriculum

DRAFT 2021-2022 CATALOG COPY

Statement of Purpose. General education provides students with the foundation for successful academic study, lifelong learning, and actively engaging in the duties of local, national, and global citizenship. The university’s general education curriculum is designed to help students better understand themselves, human cultures and societies, the natural world, as well as contribute to their personal enrichment.

The Volunteer Core general education program focuses on Effective Communication, Expanded Perspectives, and Engaged Inquiries.

Effective Communication: One hallmark of an educated person is the ability to think independently and communicate this understanding to others. Therefore, students must practice the ability to acquire, evaluate, and use information to express themselves effectively orally and in writing to a variety of audiences.

Expanded Perspectives: General education should help students understand their relationship to family, local, and global societies, and the natural world. To this end, general education should foster a commitment to respecting the diversity of personal, cultural, and scientific values. Students should be able to explain their own values and beliefs, as well as to understand the histories and cultures behind those values. Students should study the historical traditions and artistic works of other cultures, both within and outside the United States, and the fundamental principles and chief discoveries of the scientific disciplines. They should be able to solve problems using logical and critical reasoning.

Engaged Inquiries: Educated global citizens need to be able to apply knowledge and skills beyond the classroom. They should be able to work effectively in teams, be self-reflective, and think integratively. General education should help students develop habits of self-examination, strengthen their sensitivity to the dynamic nature of a multicultural world through interdisciplinary perspectives, and collaborate with others to apply what they know.

The design of the University of Tennessee’s general education program enables students to move among colleges within the university or another institution of higher learning to fulfill the requirements. Although general education provides students with the foundational knowledge and skills required for life in and beyond college, this information is specific neither to UT nor to a particular major or career path.

Requirements and Outcomes. The general education requirements and the student learning outcomes expected for each area are listed below. (See Notes).

I. Effective Communication
A. Written Communication (WC)
Students satisfy this requirement by taking 3 courses including English first-year composition sequence plus an approved additional written communication (WC) course.

Good writing skills enable students to create and share ideas, investigate and describe values, and record and explain discoveries—all skills that are necessary for professional success and personal fulfillment. Students must also be able to write correctly and engage in a productive writing process that includes drafting, feedback, and revision. They also must be able to locate relevant information, evaluate its usefulness and quality, and incorporate it logically and ethically to support ideas and claims for different audiences and purposes.

Courses in this area are expected to produce the following outcomes for students:

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to write correctly, employing appropriate conventions of grammar, usage, and mechanics.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to focus material to convey a clear, unified point or effect.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to shape content, organization, style, and/or documentation conventions to correspond with appropriate disciplinary expectations and rhetorical contexts, including audience and purpose.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to locate and use relevant, credible evidence to support ideas.
1. First-year composition sequence – 2 courses, 3 credit hours each
Students may satisfy the first-year composition requirement in one of two ways:
a. By completing 6 hours in English writing courses according to one of the following 4 sequences:
  • ENGL 101 and ENGL 102
  • ENGL 118 and one other English course.
    • Students who earn a B or higher in ENGL 118 complete their first-year composition requirement by taking a 200-level course in the English department, ENGL 355, or ENGL 102. The 200-level course, if appropriately designated, may be used to satisfy another General Education requirement (e.g., AH, GCUS).
    • Students receiving B-, C+, or C in 118 will complete the English Composition requirement by taking ENGL 102.

Eligibility for ENGL 118 will be determined by ACT or SAT scores.

  • ENGL 131 and ENGL 132. Placement in ENGL 131 or ENGL 132 will be determined by TOEFL (or equivalent standardized test) scores.
  • ENGL 198 and ENGL 298 (for Chancellor’s Honors Program students only)
b. By earning credit for ENGL 101 through a College Board Advanced Placement Test and completing one additional course from the following:

  • ENGL 102 or ENGL 290. Eligibility for ENGL 290 will be determined by ACT or SAT scores.
2. Additional Written Communication (WC) course – 1 course, minimum 1 credit hour
Upon completion of the first-year composition requirement, students must take one other approved writing intensive (WC) course. The WC course can be within the student’s major or an elective.

Approved Written Communication (WC) Courses (to follow)

B. Oral Communication
Students satisfy this requirement by taking 1 Oral Communication (OC) course and 1 Applied Oral Communication (AOC) course. No course may be used to satisfy both the OC and AOC requirement.

Oral communication skills enable students to interact successfully with others, share ideas, and present and explain discoveries, all of which are necessary for professional success and personal fulfillment. Students should be able to speak in an informative and/or convincing manner to other individuals and to groups, both small and large. Students should be able to locate relevant information, evaluate its usefulness and quality, and incorporate the information logically and ethically in oral communication.

1. Communication (OC) – 1 course, minimum 1 credit hour

The OC course lays the foundation for verbal communication across all majors, disciplines, and professions.

Courses in this area are expected to produce the following learning outcomes for students:

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to speak clearly and effectively.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to locate and use relevant, credible evidence to support ideas.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to present oral information effectively to different audiences, shaping message, organization, language choices, and delivery techniques to correspond with purpose and rhetorical context.

Students may satisfy the OC requirement by completing any course from the approved OC list.

Approved Oral Communication (OC) Courses (to follow)

2. Applied Oral Communication (AOC) – 1 course, minimum 1 credit hour

Effectively communicating ideas within a particular discipline or profession is a fundamental skill that all students should acquire and demonstrate. Applied Oral Communication (AOC) courses will expand upon OC course skills to promote understanding of and engagement with targeted audiences and stakeholders in a variety of communication contexts, such as: interpersonal, small group, and team communication; nonverbal and cross-cultural communication; communication of discipline-specific or professional information both within and outside the discipline or profession; conversational communication in formal and informal settings; and active listening.

Courses in this area are expected to produce the following outcomes for students:

  • Students demonstrate the ability to communicate clearly and effectively within a disciplinary area or profession.
  • Students demonstrate the ability to locate and use relevant, credible evidence to support ideas in accordance with disciplinary or professional standards.
  • Students demonstrate the ability to effectively analyze potential audiences to shape message, organization, language choices, and delivery techniques in accord with disciplinary or professional purpose.
  • Students engage in communication consistent with the ethical responsibilities of communicators within their respective disciplinary or professional contexts.
  • Students model respect for diversity and cross-cultural verbal and nonverbal communication practices when interacting with targeted audiences.

Students may satisfy the AOC requirement by completing any course from the approved AOC list.

Approved Applied Oral Communication (AOC) Courses (to follow)

II. Expanded Perspectives

Students satisfy this requirement by taking 1 Art & Humanities (AH) course, 2 Natural Science (NS) courses (at least one must have a lab), 2 Quantitative and Logical Reasoning (QR) course, 1 Social Science (SS) course, 1 Global Citizenship – International (GCI), 1 Global Citizenship-United States (GCUS) course, and 6 credit hours of electives.

Individual courses may appear under more than one General Education category if they fulfill the learning outcomes of multiple categories. However, no course may be used to satisfy two Expanded Perspectives requirements.

A. Ways of Knowing

To be prepared to solve novel problems, effective citizens must have basic knowledge of the chief discoveries and perspectives of the sciences, arts, and humanities; be familiar with the ways in which these disciplines generate knowledge about the world; and be able to apply logical and critical reasoning. Ways of Knowing courses are intended to provide all students with broad exposure to mathematical, quantitative, and logical reasoning; the social and natural sciences; and the arts and humanities.

1. Arts & Humanities (AH) — 1 course, minimum 3 credit hours

What does it mean to be human? In attempting to answer this question, people have produced—and continue to produce—culturally and historically significant works. The study and critical interpretation of such works and their creators enriches students’ lives and helps students understand the human condition, which is essential to our flourishing in an increasingly global community.

Courses in this area are expected to produce the following learning outcomes for students:

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to identify and describe prominent works, figures, and/or schools of thought in the arts and humanities.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to describe the cultural and historical significance of prominent works, figures, and/or schools of thought in the arts and humanities.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to critically interpret prominent works or accomplishments in artistic and humanistic fields.

This requirement is satisfied by taking one course from the approved AH list.

Approved Arts and Humanities (AH) Courses (to follow)

2. Natural Sciences (NS) – 2 courses, minimum 3 credit hours per course. At least one of the courses must have a laboratory.

Over time, advances in science and technology have shaped our understanding of the world and our place in it. All students should be familiar with the fundamental principles and chief discoveries of one or more scientific disciplines, should understand the role and relevance of science in contemporary society, and should be able to use scientific knowledge and methods to answer questions about natural phenomena and analyze contemporary issues.

Courses in this area are expected to produce the following learning outcomes for students:

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to describe fundamental principles and chief discoveries through appropriate use of the basic vocabulary of a course’s discipline.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to identify the scientific dimensions of contemporary issues.

Courses with a lab should also meet the following learning outcome:

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to use experimental techniques to answer questions and test hypotheses.

This requirement is satisfied by taking two courses from the approved NS list. At least one of the courses must have a laboratory.

Approved Natural Science (NS) Courses (to follow)

3. Quantitative and Logical Reasoning (QR) – 2 courses, minimum 3 credit hours per course

Quantitative and statistical evidence and mathematical and logical reasoning often play critical roles in building arguments and claims to support opinions and actions. Students should therefore possess the mathematical and quantitative skills needed to evaluate such arguments and claims. Students should be able to recognize the quantitative dimensions of questions and issues they will encounter in their professional and personal lives. They also should be able to use mathematical and logical reasoning to formulate and solve problems.

Courses in this area are expected to produce the following learning outcomes for students:

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to identify those aspects of arguments and claims that rely on quantitative evidence and on mathematical or logical reasoning.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to evaluate the appropriateness of conclusions drawn from quantitative evidence and mathematical or logical reasoning techniques.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to formulate and solve problems that rely on mathematical or logical reasoning.

This requirement is completed by taking 2 courses as follows:

  • One course from the list below:

List of approved QR courses to follow.

  • A second course from the list above OR taking a course designated in the undergraduate catalog as having a quantitative component (QR). The course designated as having a quantitative component may be within the student’s major or an elective.

Approved Quantitative and Logical Reasoning (QR) Courses (to follow)

4. Social Sciences (SS) – 1 course, minimum 3 credit hours

Why do people – individually and collectively – do what they do? Answering this question allows us to better understand ourselves, make better decisions, and promote the health and success of individuals and groups. The ability to answer this question requires gaining knowledge about both (a) individual and group behavior and (b) political and social systems that have been gleaned from the social sciences, as well as understanding the methods by which social scientists collect, create, and evaluate such knowledge.

Courses in this area are expected to produce the following learning outcomes for students:

  • Students will identify and critique claims about human behavior and the dynamics of individual, political, and social phenomena.
  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of appropriate and ethical methods, technologies, and data that social scientists use to investigate and describe the human condition.

This requirement is satisfied by taking one course from the approved SS list.

Approved Social Sciences (SS) Courses (to follow)

B. Global Citizenship (GC)

Students satisfy this requirement by taking 1 Global Citizenship-International Focus (GSI) course and 1 Global Citizenship-United States (GCUS) course.

Deepening understanding of one’s own cultures and traditions requires stepping back to see how and why individuals and societies are both similar and different. Contextualizing beliefs about global events, ideas, and social practices provides students with the tools they need to understand historical, social, linguistic, and/or cultural similarities and differences.

1. Global Citizenship – International Focus (GCI) — 1 course, minimum 3 credit hours

Courses in the International Focus area of the Global Citizenship category develop students’ knowledge of international cultures.

Courses will help students develop an understanding of historical influences and contemporary dynamics that shape the experiences of those living outside the United States.

Courses in this area are expected to produce the following learning outcomes for students:

  • Students will exhibit knowledge of the histories, experiences, religions, and/or languages of social, ethnic, and cultural groups outside of the United States.
  • Students will demonstrate understanding of appropriate thematic and course-related vocabulary, or intermediate-level competency in a language other than English.
  • Students will demonstrate an ability to critically compare and reflect on different social and cultural perspectives.

This requirement is satisfied by taking one course from the approved GCI list.

Approved Global Citizenship – International Focus (GCI) Courses (to follow)

2. Global Citizenship – US Focus (GCUS) — 1 course, minimum 3 credit hours

Courses in the U.S. Focus area of the Global Citizenship category develop students’ appreciation of the variety and realities of the “American experience,” taking into consideration categories of difference, such as social class, disability, ethnicity, gender, human geography, language, race, religion, and sexual orientation. Courses will help students develop an understanding of the transnational, historical, and contemporary forces that affect American society, in order to foster students’ awareness of their own identities and responsibilities in a deeply pluralistic nation and globally intertwined world.

Courses in this area are expected to produce the following learning outcomes for students:

  • Students will critically reflect on and exhibit knowledge of the histories, experiences, and/or contributions of different social and cultural groups in the United States, including those based on categories of difference.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the ways that categories of difference have been socially constructed and affect the socioeconomic and cultural status of and opportunities for individuals and groups in the United States, including their own.
  • Students will identify historical and/or contemporary relationships between the United States (including the indigenous peoples)  and other global societies and cultures.

This requirement is satisfied by taking one course from the approved GCUS list.

Approved Global Citizenship – US Focus (GCUS) Courses (to follow)

C. Expanded Perspectives Electives (6 credit hours)

Students satisfy this requirement by taking six additional credits from any courses on the approved AH, SS, GCI, or GCUS lists (shown above). In addition, elective courses may be from the Applied Arts & Humanities (AAH) area, described below.

Electives offer students choice and flexibility to choose specific areas and courses in the arts & humanities, applied arts & humanities, social sciences, and / or global citizenship to explore in greater depth.

1. Arts & Humanities (AH)

See item II.A.1 above.

2. Applied Arts & Humanities (AAH)

Decision-making and problem-solving skills are necessary for all human endeavors. The creative and performing arts allow these skills to develop through modes of expression that go beyond the purely analytical or logical. Applied AH courses encourage students to learn by doing through performances or creative activities in a variety of fields or disciplines. These courses help students to develop the capacity for creative action, giving them an opportunity to work in different modes and media. Students who complete these courses should be able to reflect on the creative process and experience.

Courses in this area are expected to produce the following learning outcomes for students:

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to create or perform an artistic work. The process of creation/performance will be the central focus of the course.
  • Students will be able to describe and articulate, with appropriate vocabulary, the creative process specific to the medium or discipline in which they are working.
  • Students will be able to assess and critique their own creative work/performance and the creative work/performance of others.
  • Students will be able to clearly articulate the broader relationships of their own performance/artwork to other works, both contemporary and historical.

Approved Applied Arts & Humanities (AAH) Courses (to follow)

3. Social Sciences (SS)

See item II.A.4 above.

4. Global Citizenship – International Focus (GCI)

See item II.B.1 above.

5. Global Citizenship – US Focus (GCUS)

See item II.B.2 above.

III. Engaged Inquiries (EI) – 9 credit hours, minimum 2 courses

This requirement is satisfied by taking 9 credit hours of Engaged Inquiry (EI) courses from at least 2 different subject (course prefix) areas. A course can simultaneously satisfy the EI requirement and any other general education requirements (AH, AAH, AOC, GCI, GCUS, OC, NS, QR, SS, WC).

Truly well-educated citizens should be ready to lead and solve problems, building on their chosen fields of study and personal interests and strengths. Students will benefit from experiences that broaden, extend, apply, and integrate prior learning and promote effective collaboration and self-awareness

In all Engaged Inquiries courses, students will produce an investigative, creative, or practical work relevant to the course topic.

In addition, El courses must demonstrate that they produce learning outcomes from at least two of the following areas:

A. Applied Learning

In applied learning courses, students will engage in a process of proposing, implementing, and assessing the success of strategies, plans, or approaches to addressing questions in applied contexts. Courses in this domain are expected to achieve the following outcome for students

  • Students will apply skills and knowledge from the classroom in hands-on situations, real-world settings, or in independent/ directed research or creative projects.
B. Collaborative Learning

During the semester, students will engage in a process of sharing ideas, making useful contributions, communicating effectively, understanding their roles, planning, and implementing the plan to completion. Courses in this domain are expected to achieve the following outcome for students:

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to engage effectively in a group to complete an investigative, creative, or practical work.
C. Reflective Learning

Students will engage in reflective activities such as journal entries, reflective response papers, or creative exercises on a regular basis in this course. Students should grapple not only with the major ideas and content of the course, but with the question of what these ideas mean to them within a larger context. Courses in this domain are expected to produce the following outcome for students:

  • Students will reflect on their own thinking, learning, understanding, and competencies, to draw connections between the subject matter of the course and the students’ own experiences within a larger social or global context.
D. Integrative or Multi-disciplinary Learning

Courses that address this domain may include team-taught interdisciplinary courses; exploration into adjacent fields; courses on pre-defined interdisciplinary subjects. Courses in this domain are expected to achieve the following outcome for students:

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to draw on theories, knowledge, tools, and/ or methods from at least two fields of study to investigate relevant issues.
Approved Engaged Inquiries (EI) Courses (to follow)
Notes
  1. A student’s college and/or program may require specific general education courses.
  2. A college may limit the applicability of general education courses to the requirements of the major or program.
  3. General Education courses may be at the 100, 200, 300, or 400 level.
  4. Some courses on the various General Education course lists may have prerequisites. Students are responsible for meeting all course prerequisites.
  5. General Education courses must be taken for a letter grade (i.e., A-F) rather than Satisfactory/No Credit (unless this is the only way the course is offered).
  6. The Office of Disability Services (ODS) is committed to providing equal opportunities for students with disabilities at the University of Tennessee. Appropriate accommodations will be made to enable persons with disabilities to satisfy the General Education requirements. Students with documented disabilities should contact the Office of Disability Services for assistance with appropriate accommodations at (865) 974-6087 or ods@tennessee.edu.
  7. Subcommittees of the Undergraduate Council General Education Committee are charged with management of the courses to be included on the General Education course lists for the Ways of Communicating, Broadening Perspectives, and Engaged Inquiries areas.