Academic Catalog 2015-2016 
    Feb 22, 2024  
Academic Catalog 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Common Curriculum

Director: Associate Professor John Cramsie (History), (518) 388-8779

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 with appropriate courses taken on international programs. Additional information of this kind can be found in the Common Curriculum Advising Guide and Worksheet located in the Resources Section of the Common Curriculum website.

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 designated as HUL or English (EGL), Modern Languages 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 Astonomy (AST) Biochemistry (BCH), Biological Sciences (BIO), Chemistry (CHM), Geology (GEO), Physics (PHY), and PSY 310  , PSY 312  or PSY 313.

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), Philosophy (PHL), Religious Studies (REL), or courses offered by the Department of Modern Languages and Literature.

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), 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 (with or without a lab), Engineering, Computer Science (CSC), or any courses listed in the course schedule as SET. Note that courses within the major or minor may be used to fulfill any of these distribution requirements.

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 two-course LCC requirement in one of these ways:

  • Complete a sequence of two language courses at the 101 level or higher
  • Go on a term abroad that deals with a cultural tradition outside the United States.
  • Go on a mini-term that deals with a cultural tradition outside the United States; provided the mini-term is associated with a pre-departure and/or post-return set of seminars it may satisfy both courses, otherwise just one.
  • Complete any two courses at Union listed in the course schedule as LCC.

Writing Across the Curriculum

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

  1. the First-Year Preceptorial
  2. the 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.

The Walter C. Baker Faculty of the Humanities (Division I)

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

Social Sciences (Division II)

Africana Studies
Political Science

Sciences (Division III)

Biological Sciences
Physics and Astronomy

Engineering and Computer Science (Division IV)

Computer Science
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Mechanical Engineering

* Courses in the Psychology Department may be classified as social science courses (Division II) or Sciences (Division III). Please refer to course listings  for clarification.