K-State 8 Area Descriptions
Courses and experiences in the interpretive understanding of aesthetic experience provide students with the opportunity to develop their interpretive skills and heighten their aesthetic responses to literature, the performing arts, and the visual arts. For example, courses and experiences in this area could facilitate students learning to:
- analyze, interpret, and respond to literary texts, artistic performances, and works of art by drawing on differing historical, cultural, or theoretical perspectives;
- develop critical thinking skills, including their ability to reflect on and explain the meanings of artistic works, performances, and texts; and
- understand how artistic works shape and reproduce social ideas, values, and concerns and how they interact with and influence society, history, and culture.
Rationale: The arts provide us with something more than knowledge of traditions, beliefs, and forms of expression; they also teach us to observe carefully, to reflect, to appreciate, to wonder, and to see objects and interactions with new eyes. The study of artistic works can heighten curiosity, intensify aesthetic and observational capacities, and sharpen the ability to make sense of a range of works from sacred texts to contemporary popular music, from ancient architecture to television and film. An understanding of artistic and cultural traditions is an important component of preparing for a lifetime of civic and cultural engagement.
Courses and experiences in empirical and quantitative reasoning provide students with the opportunity to learn how to gather and evaluate information, weigh alternative evidence, understand the likelihood of particular outcomes, and recognize when available evidence is inadequate to draw a conclusion. For example, courses and experiences in this area could facilitate students learning to:
- understand and describe the importance of logical and empirical methods to determine and express relationships between properties or concepts;
- apply basic skills and knowledge using appropriate methods for gathering, analyzing and displaying data to draw conclusions; and
- solve complex, real-world problems through the application of appropriate strategies and the use of logical reasoning skills.
Rationale: All individuals are faced with the inevitable task of evaluating available information in order to make decisions. These decisions range from choices that are personal (e.g., whether or not to undergo particular medical treatments) to those that affect the community or society (e.g., evaluating data to make policy recommendations). The ability to examine and describe relationships among concepts and ideas using logical reasoning (based on observed, intuitive, scientific, theoretical and other forms of data) allows individuals to solve problems across a variety of situations.
Courses and experiences in ethical reasoning and responsibility should assist students in learning how to think through ethical dilemmas and make sound decisions when facing real-life situations. Ethical reasoning requires the study of standards by which human behavior and interactions can be considered right or wrong — defining the concepts of right and wrong, good and bad, and how we make these determinations. Ethical responsibility includes the ability to apply ethical standards to social and environmental issues. For example, courses and experiences in this area could facilitate students learning to:
- exhibit basic awareness and understanding of ethical dilemmas and standards for resolution of ethical questions;
- apply emerging skills to address ethical dilemmas using sound principles and strategies; and
- recognize and articulate the importance of social and environmental responsibility as an essential component of ethical reasoning.
Rationale: Students must be exposed to a variety of ethical perspectives and multiple ways of resolving ethical dilemmas in order to be responsible citizens. Because humans exist within social groups and live within the natural and built environment, ethical decisions must include consideration of others and their surroundings. Therefore, social and environmental engagement and responsibility is the context in which ethical reasoning occurs. Educated citizens should be able to discern and reflect upon the broader impact of their individual actions.
Courses and experiences in global issues and perspectives will introduce students to values, perspectives, beliefs, behaviors, policies and customs from around the world. Emphasis should be placed on exploring the interdependence of people, nations and systems across the globe. For example, courses and experiences in this area could facilitate students learning to:
- examine their own cultural context using a comparative global perspective;
- exhibit an understanding of global issues, trends, policies, processes, impacts and systems; and
- think critically about issues such as globalization, sustainability, multiculturalism, political and governmental context, privilege, difference/similarity, prejudice and discrimination within a global context.
Rationale: A global perspective is imperative for K-State graduates who will continue to live and work within a global community throughout their lives. Current global challenges are of great importance and affect all individuals, political systems and nations, regardless of minority/majority status or group identity. Current challenges include: economic globalization, sustainability, global health priorities, environmental crises, ethnic and cultural identity and global matters of conflict resolution, justice and equity.
Courses and experiences examining historical perspectives help students realize the need to understand the past and thoughtfully consider the future to contextualize current knowledge, to glimpse how it may continue to develop and to examine the role they might play. For example, courses and experiences in this area could facilitate students learning to:
- understand how past events and actions have influenced or affected current events, scholarly knowledge, and societies;
- understand that knowledge is not fixed and that human beings continue to reinterpret the past based on current perspectives; and
- identify and describe appropriate systematic and scientific strategies to examine history.
Rationales: Educated individuals realize that the world in which we live changes. Being able to trace current knowledge to its sources provides insight into what we know and how we came to know it. A sense of history enables us to use the lessons of the past as touchstones against which we compare our accomplishments. Appreciating that knowledge is constantly evolving means that people can prepare for the future, develop contingencies, be alert to trends, understand their origins, and acquire the skills and resources required to redirect or modify those trends as needed.
Courses and experiences in human diversity within the U.S. should assist students in developing an awareness of self and others through scholarly study, research and personal interaction. Students should be exposed to multiple perspectives about U.S. society and how group affiliation affects people's perceptions and experiences. For example, courses and experiences in this area could facilitate students learning to:
- identify and discuss diverse perspectives and experiences as they examine U.S. institutions, practices, policies and influences from contemporary and/or historical viewpoints;
- exhibit knowledge and understanding of a variety of cultures in the U.S., including majority and non-majority groups, and their interconnectedness within U.S. society; and
- think critically about issues such as identity, race, ethnicity, nationality, multiculturalism, similarity/difference, prejudice and discrimination within a U.S. social and cultural context.
Rationale: Within the diverse and pluralistic U.S. society, through interactions with each other, individuals often categorize people in terms of inclusion or exclusion from particular groups. To reduce false or unsubstantiated opinions or assumptions they have of "others" and of themselves, students must examine the many patterns that characterize human groupings in U.S. culture — for example, those based on gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, (dis)ability, and socioeconomic class.
Courses and experiences in natural and physical sciences introduce students to the central facts, ideas and theories related to the study of living systems and the physical universe and help them develop the ability to evaluate the merit of scientific and technological claims. For example, courses and experiences in this area could facilitate students learning to:
- understand major concepts and facts related to the study of living systems and the physical universe;
- apply scientific facts and ideas to real-world problems; and
- develop a beginning understanding of social, practical, and ethical significance of scientific knowledge and theory as well as their applications through technology.
Rationale: Scientific advances affect our lives in powerful ways, from the development of medical advances that extend the quality and length of human life to the creation of new energy sources that reduce pollution. Students must learn our current understanding of the natural and physical sciences. Students also should understand that views of the natural and physical world change with developments in science and experimental technologies. An undergraduate education should ask that students examine the relationship of science to society, to historical developments, to our understanding of truth, to ethical dilemmas, to creativity and innovation, to broad implications and sustainability and to understandings of the meaning of life and the cosmos.
Courses and experiences in social sciences emphasize how individuals, families, groups, institutions, governments and societies behave and influence one another and the natural environment. Students are exposed to appropriate methods used to analyze and understand interactions of various social factors that influence behavior at these multiple levels. For example, courses and experiences in this area could facilitate students learning to:
- explore ways in which individuals, groups, institutions, governments and/or societies behave and influence one another;
- exhibit an understanding of the various social factors that influence behavior at multiple levels of human interaction; and
- identify and describe appropriate systematic and scientific strategies to examine current social issues and problems.
Rationale: Educated individuals can identify the difference between rigorous, systematic thinking and uncritical thinking about social phenomena. The reciprocal relationships between human behavior and social environments must be examined in order to responsibly encourage behaviors that will maintain and/or achieve health and well-being for individuals, families, groups, societies, nations and the global community.