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General Education

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Cluster Two: Arts and Humanities

Cluster Two shows students what it means to live lives enriched by reflection, imagination and creativity. It does so by offering each individual a cross disciplinary experience within the arts and humanities, those areas of endeavor that humans have long valued for their intrinsic worth and that invite a deeper appreciation of the human experience. The broadly stated goals for Cluster Two are:

  • To introduce students to cultural, historical, aesthetic and theoretical expressions of and questions about human experience.
  • To expose students to multiple academic disciplines in the arts and humanities and their methods and unique perspectives.
  • To inspire a deeper awareness of how the interplay between culture and expression affects both collective and individual identities.
  • To foster appreciation of the aesthetic and formal qualities of literary, visual and performing arts.
  • To engage students in thinking critically and communicating clearly about enduring questions concerning human life, culture and history.

Cluster Two Structure

Students complete nine credits by choosing one course from each of three groups: Human Questions and Contexts; Visual and Performing Arts; and Literature.

Group One: Human Questions and Contexts

Students will take one course from the list below. AMST 200 takes an cross disciplinary approach to questions about American identity and shows how they reflect a complex interplay of cultural, historical, religious and ideological perspectives. The ANTH and HIST courses introduce students to the great cultures of the world by surveying the common patterns of experience that characterized Western, Middle Eastern, Asian, African, Meso- and South American societies in the past. The HUM courses are cross disciplinary, in-depth explorations of specific topics, cultures, periods or themes. The PHIL and REL courses explore the great inquiries into human existence and the ways different cultures across different time periods constructed their responses to questions concerning humans’ existence and their relationship to nature, ultimate reality and the universe. Thus all of the courses in Group One emphasize central questions about the human condition and ways of studying values and beliefs as they are shaped by class, gender, race, historical events, philosophy and religion.

Choose one of the following:

AMST 200. Introduction to American Studies

ANTH 205. Buried Cities, Lost Tribes: The Rise and Fall of Early Human Societies

HIST 101. World History to 1500

HIST 102. World History Since 1500

HUM 102. God, Meaning, and Morality

HUM 250. Foundations of Western Culture

(Topics vary by section. Examples include: Ancient Greece, Rome)
HUM 251. Modern Perspectives

(Topics vary by section. Examples include: The Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Human Rights)

HUM 252. Cross-Cultural Perspectives

(Topics vary by section. Examples include: East Asia, West Africa, Latin American Cultures, Islamic Civilization)

PHIL 101. Introduction to Philosophy

REL 101. Religions of the World

Group Two: Visual and Performing Arts

Students will take one course from the list below. ARTH 205 and ARTH 206 are global art history surveys that introduce students to the visual arts, whose history often has been interconnected with developments in music, dance and theatre/film. These surveys are organized chronologically, but focus distinctly on artistic perception and experience. The global music surveys explore history and the arts through the study of music: its development, aesthetics, forms and styles; and its context within the cultural communities that produced it. ART 200 and MUS 200 are introductions to art or music in general culture; THEA 210 studies theatre as an art form including acting, directing, design, costuming, lighting; MUS 203 explores America’s music landscape and examines the interconnections among music, art and literature in historical periods.

Choose one of the following:

ART 200. Art in General Culture

ARTH 205. Survey of World Art I: Prehistoric to Renaissance

ARTH 206. Survey of World Art II: Renaissance to Modern

MUS 200. Music in General Culture

MUS 203. Music in America

MUS 206. Introduction to Global Music

THEA 210. Introduction to Theatre

Group Three: Literature

Students will choose a course from the list below. The literature surveys provide students with extensive reading experiences of representative genres and authors and various critical approaches to literary texts, as well as opportunities to explore the complex ways that the literature both reflects and helps change or create the cultural and intellectual contexts of the times in which they are written. Students are expected to learn strategies for reading and interpreting any literary text so that they come to deepen their appreciation of the aesthetics, rhetorical strategies and meaning of a range of literary texts. Through the humanistic study of literature, students will also obtain a better understanding of themselves and their own culture as well as those of others.

Choose one of the following:

ENG 221. Literature/Culture/Ideas

ENG 222. Genre(s)

ENG 235. Survey of English Literature: From Beowulf to the 18th Century

ENG 236. Survey of English Literature: 18th Century to Modern

ENG 239. Studies in World Literature

ENG 247. Survey of American Literature: From the Beginning to the Civil War

ENG 248. Survey of American Literature: From the Civil War to the Modern Period

ENG 260. Survey of African-American Literature

HUM 200. Great Works

(Topics vary by section. Examples include: German Literature in Translation, 19th and 20th Century Russian Literature, Western Classics)

Literature and Writing Infusion

The courses in Group Three are designated as writing-infused. Students will write a minimum of 5,000 words (approximately 15 pages double-spaced in a standard font) in assignments that may include both informal and formal, ungraded and graded forms. The extensive opportunity to produce and receive feedback on various genres of academic writing will help students sharpen their responses to interesting and thought-provoking texts and promote more engaged and sophisticated reading strategies.

Cluster Two Learning Objectives

After completing Cluster Two: Arts and Humanities, students should have attained competency in three major areas.

Human Questions and Contexts

After completing Group One, students will be able to:

  • Use critical and comparative analysis to question their own and others' beliefs about and responses to the world or universe.
  • Apply the methods of the discipline(s) studied to material from the humanities.
  • Identify, evaluate and produce arguments using appropriate concepts and techniques and formulate logical arguments on the same basis.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of broader cultural, historical or conceptual contexts of particular issues, ideas, objects or events – past and present.
  • Experience humanities events (such as exhibits, films, performances or public lectures) more discerningly.

Visual and Performing Arts

After completing Group Two, students will be able to:

  • Explain how artistic works and culture are interrelated.
  • Recognize that the arts are accessible and relevant to their lives.
  • Demonstrate disciplinary literacy (vocabulary, concepts, creative processes) in a major art form.
  • Produce an informed response to the form, content and aesthetic qualities of artistic works.
  • Experience arts events more discerningly.
  • Acknowledge relationships among the arts.


After completing Group Three, students will be able to:

  • Generate increasingly nuanced questions (interpretations, ideas) about literature and explain why those questions matter.
  • Use appropriate vocabulary and tactics to analyze specific literary expressions of culture and the relationship between the reader, the author and text.
  • Define ways that texts serve as arguments and identify rhetorical and formal elements that inform these arguments.
  • Recognize appropriate contexts (such as genres, political perspectives, textual juxtapositions) and understand that readers may interpret literature from a variety of perspectives.
  • Articulate a variety of examples of the ways in which literature gives us access to the human experience that reveals what differentiates it from, and connects it to, the other disciplines that make up the arc of human learning.