Conceptual Framework of the General Education/Liberal Arts Program
Asbury University’s General Education/Liberal Arts Program organizes around five (5) key conceptual areas outlined in the framework below. Each of the five areas within the framework clearly identifies a Student Learning Outcome (SLO) crucial to the liberal arts vision and overall academic mission of the University. While each conceptual category is distinct, and supports a clearly defined learning outcome, none of the categories is to be considered as isolated from the other, nor static. They are of a piece, all interconnected, inseparable, and dynamic. They invite reflection on the whole person, not on some disaggregated set of aptitudes or skills. Thus Christian faith and culture sheds light on and informs human thought and creative expression. Yet neither the religious nor the creative life unfolds in a vacuum, nor is entirely private. A person in search of knowledge, meaning, and wisdom must necessarily engage society and answer the call to public and global responsibility, while also recognizing that informed citizenship requires critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving. Social responsibility, in turn, entails a deep awareness that human persons are very obviously situated in human circumstances and communities, which must be sustained by productive learning, living, and well-being. Thus, the following conceptual framework for the General Education/Liberal Arts Program at Asbury University is designed to highlight these intersections, to open new pathways of thought, to promote an interdisciplinary approach to liberal arts study, and, ultimately, to keep alive the enduring questions of human life and meaning.
1. Integrating Christian Faith and Culture
At Asbury University, the General Education/Liberal Arts Program takes shape within the context of Christian revelation. Asbury’s Christian (Wesleyan) theological tradition invites students to apprehend God’s revelation through scripture, reason, tradition, and experience. These common inquiries challenge students to explore the rich relationship between Christian belief and practice, between Christian theological foundations and traditions. As a crucial part of this theological education, students will use critical approaches and interpretive skills necessary to establish life-long Biblical literacy.
SLO 1: Students will demonstrate Biblical literacy and theological understanding as they inform human life.
2. Discovering Human Thought and Creative Expression
Works of literature, art, music, and philosophy raise enduring questions about humankind. This area of study will help students ask and address fundamental questions relating to humankind and the varieties of human experiences. Essential to this area of inquiry is a sustained program of reading deeply in and writing about influential thinkers—artists, poets, philosophers, and historians—who have posed questions and expressed ideas about such perennial human concerns as art and beauty, truth and goodness, history and culture, and morality and ethics.
SLO 2: Students will use aesthetic, historic, linguistic, and philosophical forms and expressions to interpret the human condition.
3. Engaging Society and Global Responsibility
For millennia humans have organized themselves in families, communities and states – for protection, to meet needs, expand material wealth and promote social well being. This category attempts to understand the human experience with regard to social and political organization and the responsibility of individuals and groups to sustain and alter the social order.
SLO 3: Students will demonstrate how key concepts from the social and behavioral sciences help to identify and address real-world problems of human persons, communities, and nations, including the origin of such problems.
4. Achieving Quantitative and Critical Literacy
The modern age presents humans not just with mass society, but also with an outpouring of data about every element of that society, as well as tools that enable individuals and groups to analyze and interpret these data. Increasingly, success in the professions and in personal life will depend upon a person’s ability to utilize these tools to facilitate critical thinking and problem solving. This area of inquiry will challenge students to comprehend and evaluate mathematical and statistical information, perform problem-solving operations on qualitative and quantitative data, and describe the challenges of using technology and managing information.
SLO 4: The student will demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving through the interpretation and analysis of data.
5. Searching the Natural World and the Environment
Scientific discoveries in the recent era have led to an explosion of knowledge of the natural world. Though such knowledge has enabled humans to conquer diseases and to construct infrastructures that promote human well-being, the scientific era has also raised moral, ethical, religious, and environmental questions regarding human practices, habitations, circumstances, and environments. Scientific discovery and practicing the scientific method are crucial for a life of productive learning and living. Students, then, will explore foundational principles and concepts in the natural sciences and use them in critically thinking about such related areas as personal wellness, environmental stewardship, culture formation, and moral and ethical decision making.
SLO 5: Students will use the scientific method to engage in an exploration of the natural world, including a close examination of practices that promote environmental stewardship and personal well-being.