Academic Catalog 2022-2023 
    Dec 05, 2022  
Academic Catalog 2022-2023

Complex Questions: Global Challenges & Social Justice Curriculum

Complex Questions: Global Challenges & Social Justice Curriculum

Director: Professor Mark Walker (History),

The Complex Questions curriculum at Union College combines the breadth and strengths of a traditional liberal arts education to enhance teaching and learning through the diverse perspectives of major areas of human understanding. Driven by our longstanding college-wide commitment to lifelong learning with social purpose, the curriculum creates opportunities for students to engage with and develop an understanding of the complexity and global nature of many issues and how different disciplinary perspectives address and explain those issues.

Students will take nine courses, including eight* courses that thread themes of two major Areas of Inquiry - Justice, Equity, Identity, and Difference (JEID), alongside various Global Challenges (GC) - through diverse liberal arts perspectives.  All perspectives courses will incorporate one of the Areas of Inquiry.  Students may satisfy any of the requirements except FYI/FYI-H and WAC (Writing Across the Curriculum) with appropriate courses taken on campus or international programs.  Courses other than FYI/FYI-H 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 Complex Questions Curriculum can be found in the Complex Questions Curriculum Advising Guide located in the Resources Section of the Complex Questions: Global Challenges and Social Justice website. Advisers and students should study the information carefully.

*For students entering in the Fall of 2022, only six Perspectives courses will be required as the curriculum is being phased-in. However, Union College strongly recommends that students take courses in all eight Perspectives.

Courses that Builds Intellectual Foundations

First-Year Inquiry (FYI 100) is taken during the first year and engages students in the exploration of ideas and diverse perspectives through critical reading, thinking, and writing. These courses are designed to introduce critical inquiry across the disciplines at Union, with a focus on open-ended questions. Note that students int he Scholars Program take Scholars Inquiry (FYI 100H).

Courses that Explore Perspectives Across Areas of Inquiry

A student must take one course from each of the eight Perspectives, with at least one course taken in each Area of Inquiry.

Creative Works/Arts and Design (CAD) are courses where students experience and engage critically with the creative arts around an area of inquiry in a historical or contemporary context. Such courses enable students to develop and cultivate a sensory and/or experiential literacy that will refine their ability to be active, critical thinkers rather than passive spectators.

Cultural and Historical Foundations (CHD) are courses where students will learn to recognize change and continuity in patterns of beliefs, practices, and policies in the present and/or over time that inform the organization of communities, societies, and nations, as well as the cultural identities of individuals. Such courses may compare/contrast human experiences around the Areas of Inquiry across and/or within national boundaries.

Data and Quantitative Reasoning (DQR) are courses that introduce students to mathematical, statistical, or computational methods for reasoning with data or quantitative analysis. Students will identify and construct questions, apply appropriate methods to investigate questions, and develop skills to engage societal problems or global challenges.

Engineering, Technology and Society (ETS) are courses where students engage with the engineering design or software development practices and ways of thinking to understand how technology is and has been used to address complex problems. Courses consider how technological innovation can both deliberately and accidentally disrupt economies, cultures, politics and relationships, while engaging with difficult moral and ethical questions.

Literatures (LIT) are courses where students experience and study literary texts, which can include, but are not limited to, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, and film. Courses will explore the relevant imaginative, historical, philosophical, and related aesthetic forms and contexts of literary works.

Natural and Physical Sciences (NPS) are courses where students will be immersed in hands-on, inquiry based learning of scientific principles and processes through laboratory or field exercises. Courses will be grounded in the knowledge and understanding of the world around us, how science can shape society, and how natural processes can be perturbed by human influence or activity.

Social Analysis, Politics and Ethics (SPE) are courses where students will learn about the methods and/or theories of social, political, and/or ethical and moral inquiry in order to develop critical thought about and analyze issues of justice, equity, and difference, as well as a myriad of other global challenges faced by society. A course may describe how different perspectives might engage with or help develop new ways of thinking about ethical dilemmas, environmental and social problems, and consider the ramifications of alternative solutions.

World Languages (WOL) are courses where students study and use a world language other than English, as systems of communications for expressing aspects of human experience. Courses will afford students experience with and exposure to languages beyond their own to facilitate communication, cultural competency, historical understanding, and meaningful participation in multilingual communities at home and around the world. In order to understand and engage with global questions, we need exposure to languages beyond our own as they offer perspectives that become clear only n the vocabulary, expressions and thought patterns of those languages and the people who use them.  Courses in languages other than English taken abroad would also count for this requirement.