Academic Catalog 2020-2021 
    Jul 19, 2024  
Academic Catalog 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Common Curriculum

Director: Professor Mark Walker (History), (518) 388-6994

The Common Curriculum embodies Union’s commitment to build intellectual foundations, explore the liberal arts, and create dynamic connections across boundaries as students discover new interests and contribute to humanity. The courses in the Common Curriculum create the essential foundation of a Union Education in the liberal arts. Through them students begin to find the creative intersections of ideas that contribute to society and touch lives.

Students take at least ten courses in completing the Common Curriculum. Students may satisfy any of the requirements except FPR/FPR-H and SRS/SCH-150 and WAC (Writing Across the Curriculum) with appropriate courses taken on international programs. Courses other than FPR/FPR-H and SRS/SCH-150 may be used to meet the requirements of a major or minor unless specifically prohibited by a particular program or department. Academic policies and administrative procedures for the Common Curriculum can be found in the Common Curriculum Advising Guide located in the Resources Section of the Common Curriculum website.  Advisers and students should study the information carefully.

Courses that Build Intellectual Foundations

First-Year Preceptorial (FPR 100   ) engages students in the exploration of ideas and diverse perspectives through critical reading, thinking, and writing. Note that students in the Scholars Program take Scholars Preceptorial (FPR 100H ).

Sophomore Research Seminar (SRS 200 ) ensures that students have an early hands-on experience thinking and working as an academic researcher. Note that students in the Scholars Program take the Scholars Research Seminar (SCH 150   ) after the Scholars Preceptorial.

Literature (HUL) expands the moral imagination needed to understand one’s self and fellow human beings through literary analysis, interpretation, and reflection. Complete any one course listed in the course schedule as HUL from English (EGL), Modern Literature in Translation (MLT), or another department

Natural Science with Lab (SCLB) changes the way students think about the natural world when students understand the scientific method and put it to work. Complete any one Lab course in Astronomy (AST), Biochemistry (BCH), Biological Sciences (BIO), Chemistry (CHM), Geology (GEO), Physics (PHY), certain Psychology courses (PSY 310  , PSY 312 , PSY 313 , PSY 330 , PSY 351 ) or any courses listed in the course schedule as SCLB.

Quantitative and Mathematical Reasoning (QMR) equips students with unique insights and skills necessary to solve complex problems. Complete any one course from Mathematics (MTH) except MTH 100  or any courses listed in the course schedule as QMR.

Courses that Explore the Liberal Arts

Arts and Humanities (HUM) courses enable students to find themselves and voice in creative expression and exploration of the works of the imagination. Complete any one course in Art History (AAH), Dance (ADA), Music (AMU), Theatre (ATH), Studio Arts (AVA), Classics (CLS), English (EGL), Film Studies (FLM), Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (GSW), Philosophy (PHL), Religious Studies (REL), or courses offered by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.

Social Sciences (SOCS) courses confront students with the complexity and challenges of our world by analyzing the societies we create. Complete any one course in Anthropology (ANT), Economics (ECO), Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (GSW), History (HST), Political Science (PSC), Sociology (SOC), or PSY 100 .

Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) introduce students to Union’s unique commitment to teaching Science and Engineering as Liberal Arts and examining their impact on our humanity. Complete any one science in Science (with or without lab, including a second SCLB), Engineering, or Computer Science (CSC), certain Psychology courses (PSY 210 , PSY 311 , PSY 315 , PSY 410 ), or any course listed in the course schedule as SET.

Courses that Create Connections across Boundaries

Languages and Cultures (LCC) courses empower students as citizens of a global community to contribute across cultural boundaries and shape our shared future. Complete the LCC requirement in one of these ways:

  • OPTION A Language Sequence: complete a sequence of two language courses in the same language at the 101 level or higher.  PLEASE NOTE: for Latin or Greek, you must complete LAT 102   and LAT 103   or GRK 102   and GRK 103   ; LAT 101   and GRK 101   do not count for LCC language sequence credit.
  • OPTION B: Cultural Analysis Sequence: complete any two non‐language courses at Union that carry the LCC code.
  • OPTION C Study Abroad: complete a full term abroad that deals with a cultural tradition outside of the US. This satisfies both courses of the LCC requirement.  Complete a mini‐term that deals with a cultural tradition outside of the US.  This satisfies one course of the LCC requirement. If the mini‐term is associated with approved pre‐departure and/or post‐return coursework equivalent to a 1.0 academic credit course it satisfies the two-course LCC requirement.

Writing Across the Curriculum

The Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program is designed to promote the development of students’ writing and critical thinking skills. Every student will have opportunities to improve these skills by completing the following requirements:

  1. First-Year Preceptorial
  2. Sophomore Research Seminar
  3. Five courses from at least two different academic divisions (refer to “Divisions” below) that have been certified as WAC courses
  4. A Senior Writing Experience such as a senior thesis or a senior seminar paper.

The First-Year Preceptorial and Sophomore Research Seminar, required of all students, focus on developing critical reading, analytic writing, and research skills. The WAC courses that fulfill the second requirement fall within the normal disciplinary offerings and provide students with feedback on their writing while incorporating writing as an important and clearly evaluated part of the coursework.

Courses currently certified by the College Writing Board as meeting WAC requirements are listed in the course schedule posted on-line each term. As courses and course syllabi frequently change, additional courses are certified each year by the College Writing Board and the roster of WAC courses changes over time.

The form of the senior writing experience that meets the third requirement is determined by the Writing Board and the student’s major department(s). In most departments, this requirement is fulfilled by completing a thesis, another research project, or a senior seminar. Courses that satisfy this requirement are designated as WS courses.

WAC: course certified by the Writing Board
WS: fulfills senior writing requirement
WAC/S: fulfills WAC or Senior Writing


Departments of instruction are grouped into divisions as follows. For courses in interdisciplinary programs not listed below, students should consult with their advisor or with the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Arts and Humanities (Division I)

Film Studies
Modern Languages and Literatures
Religious Studies
Theater and Dance
Visual Arts

Social Sciences (Division II)

Africana Studies
Political Science

Science and Mathematics (Division III)

Biological Sciences
Physics and Astronomy

Engineering and Computer Science (Division IV)

Computer Science
Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering

* Beginning in 2018-19, courses in the Psychology Department will count in Division III for the requirement that students have WAC courses from at least two division.