Faculty & Staff

General Education for Undergraduate Students

An undergraduate education at Indiana University Bloomington will develop students’ understanding of themselves, their sense of responsibility to others, and their knowledge of the social and natural worlds. Students will therefore be able to analyze problems, generate solutions, pose questions and construct defensible answers based on reason and appropriate evidence. IUB graduates will be curious, independent and responsible participants in their communities and their places of work, and citizens of the world.

To achieve these ends, every Indiana University Bloomington baccalaureate degree program includes common course and disciplinary requirements that integrate these general developmental goals with the special resources of the campus. These common requirements articulate the ideals that Indiana University Bloomington faculty hold for the general education of undergraduate students, and assure that all students are afforded the opportunity to explore a breadth of academic opportunities as well as the more specialized demands of a chosen major field of study. An IUB undergraduate education is an experience that deepens, broadens and extends students’ skills, knowledge, abilities and dispositions, and fosters a love of and dedication to learning.


The Common Ground Foundations requirements ensure that students are proficient in English composition and Mathematical skills. See below for learning outcomes and course characteristics for the English Composition and Mathematical Modeling requirements.

  • English Composition

    Learning Outcomes

    Students proficient in English composition will demonstrate the ability to

    1. employ strategies of pre-writing, drafting, and revising, taking into consideration rhetorical purpose, the knowledge and needs of different audiences, and the feedback of instructors and peers;
    2. produce substantial revisions of drafts, as distinguished from editing and proofreading;
    3. read critically, summarize, apply, analyze, and synthesize information and concepts in written and visual sources as the basis for developing their own ideas and claims;
    4. conduct inquiry-driven research, using appropriate data repositories and properly attributing and citing the language and ideas of others to avoid plagiarism;
    5. develop a focused thesis and link it to appropriate reasons and adequate evidence;
    6. use genre conventions and structure (e.g., introductions, paragraphing, transitions) in ways that serve the development and communication of information and ideas;
    7. edit such that choices in style, grammar, spelling, and punctuation contribute to the clear communication of information and ideas.

    A minimum grade of C in an approved course is required to show proficiency in English composition.

    Course Characteristics

    1. Courses fulfilling the Composition proficiency requirement should (a) emphasize formal instruction in writing that integrates reading, thinking, and writing skills transferable to a wide variety of college courses and experiences students will encounter; (b) include at least a full semester sequence of frequent and regular writing assignments that build sequentially on students' ability to read critically, summarize, apply, analyze, and synthesize what they have read, discussed, and researched; (c) emphasize the development of students' ideas in the context of ongoing cultural, scholarly, and professional "conversations," clarity of expression, and organization, in addition to correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and citation; (d) involve rigorous draft feedback and evaluation using appropriate rubrics.
    2. Courses approved for the Writing: English Composition requirement must have extensive and well-conceived systems for course development and review and for the preparation and ongoing supervision of all instructors.
    3. Courses approved for the requirement must be taught in section sizes that permit directed rewriting and careful evaluation (25 or fewer).
    4. Such courses are to be distinguished from Intensive Writing courses beyond the 100 level in which students typically learn formats and conventions particular to specific disciplines and professions and/or use writing as a way of understanding particular course concepts. Courses approved for the English Composition requirement will serve as prerequisites for such Intensive Writing courses.
    5. Currently no courses fulfilling the English Composition requirement have been approved for meeting any other Common Ground requirement.
  • Mathematical Modeling

    Mathematical Modeling courses provide rigorous instruction in fundamental mathematical concepts and skills presented in the context of real-world applications. The modeling skills provide analytical methods for approaching problems students encounter in their future endeavors.

    Learning Outcomes

    Students proficient in Mathematical Modeling should demonstrate the ability to:

    1. create mathematical models of empirical or theoretical phenomena in domains such as the physical, natural, or social sciences;
    2. create variables and other abstractions to solve college-level mathematical problems in conjunction with previously-learned fundamental mathematical skills such as algebra;
    3. draw inferences from models using college-level mathematical techniques including problem solving, quantitative reasoning, and exploration using multiple representations such as equations, tables, and graphs.

    A passing grade in an approved course is required to show proficiency in mathematical modeling under the General Education curriculum.

    Course Characteristics

    1. Mathematical modeling courses
      1. are mathematics courses that either are required for students in the natural and mathematical sciences or address problems through mathematical models;
      2. emphasize mathematical rigor and abstraction, fundamental mathematical skills, and college-level mathematical concepts and techniques;
      3. teach how to develop mathematical models and draw inferences from them;
      4. include a full semester or equivalent of frequent and regular assignments that provide practice in mathematical modeling and mathematical techniques. Problems providing modeling practice
        1. are phrased with limited use of mathematical notation and symbols;
        2. require a formulation step on the part of the student;
        3. require college-level mathematical techniques leading from the formulation to the conclusion;
        4. have a conclusion that involves discovery or interpretation.
      5. Courses approved for the Mathematical Modeling requirement must demonstrate and provide a system for consistency in instruction and in assessment of student achievement.
      6. Courses approved for the mathematical modeling requirement should engage students with mathematical concepts and techniques that prepare them for a variety of possible future courses and degrees.
      7. A course used to satisfy the Mathematical Modeling Foundations requirement may not double-count toward the Breadth of Inquiry Natural and Mathematical Sciences requirement.

Breadth of Inquiry

The Common Ground Breadth of Inquiry requirements offer students an opportunity to experience several different areas of study outside their major. See below for learning outcomes and course characteristics for the Arts and Humanities, Social and Historical Studies, and Natural and Mathematical Sciences requirements.

  • Arts and Humanities

    Learning Outcomes

    Courses in the Arts and Humanities area of the Common Ground in General Education explore expressions and artifacts of human experience from past and present cultures throughout the world. Courses taken in fulfillment of the Arts and Humanities requirement introduce students to a range of knowledge, analytical frameworks, and critical perspectives, and are intended to contribute to any or all of the following learning outcomes.

    Students who complete the Arts and Humanities requirement will demonstrate

    1. knowledge of origins, varieties, and meanings of the expressions and artifacts of human experience, including (a) original written texts in various literary forms, (b) works of visual art and design, (c) musical compositions, and (d) dramatic performance (live theater, dance, film, video, digital, etc.);
    2. knowledge of the cultural, intellectual, and historical contexts through which these expressions and artifacts are interpreted;
    3. an understanding of the modes of symbolic expression and aesthetic and/or literary conventions that are used in these expressions and artifacts;
    4. the ability to develop arguments, ideas, and opinions about forms of human expression, grounded in rational analysis and in an understanding of and respect for the historical context of expressions and artifacts, and to express these ideas in written and/or oral form;
    5. the ability to create or reinterpret artistic works, as performer or as critic, through the development of skills of performance or skills of analysis and criticism;
    6. the ability to explain and assess the changing perspectives on the meanings of arts and humanities traditions;
    7. the ability to explore one's own identity within prior and current intellectual, aesthetic, and cultural frameworks.

    Course Characteristics

    Courses in the Arts and Humanities enable students to understand and interpret expressions and artifacts of human experience in word, image, music, and gesture. In these courses, students investigate the varieties of aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural expression from both contemporary and historical perspectives. They also develop the abilities to think rationally and to construct and assess opinions, ideas, and arguments. Arts and Humanities courses further encourage students to explore their own identity and traditions, so that they may craft their own responses to a changing and complex, modern world.

    In the Arts, students explore human expression through (a) writing in various literary forms, (b) visual arts (painting, sculpture, textiles, etc.), (c) musical composition and performance, and (d) dramatic performance (live theater, video and film, dance, etc.). In the Humanities, students explore areas of knowledge and analysis relating to human history, philosophy, and/or culture.

    Courses approved in Arts and Humanities (a) investigate and analyze modes of symbolic representation and artistic and/or literary conventions; (b) explore cultural, historical, and intellectual contexts of literature, art, music, and drama; (c) grapple with religious, philosophical, and moral questions; and/or (d) create and/or re-create artistic works culminating in individual or group publication, production, or performance. Courses included in this last category will integrate analytical papers or formal critiques demonstrating students' ability to express opinions and ideas, and to argue rationally about them.

    At the discretion of departments, and with permission of the appropriate academic dean, exemptions for approved courses may be earned by satisfactory performance on departmentally approved examinations.

  • Social and Historical Studies

    Learning Outcomes

    Social and Historical studies courses help students gain knowledge of human cultures and the impact of historical events that shaped their development. The theoretical underpinnings and methodologies introduced will provide students with critical analytical skills. The courses are also expected to increase the social awareness of students through intercultural knowledge and the ability to reason ethically. Knowledge of specific historical and social situations will help students integrate an appreciation for diversity and inclusiveness into their approach to life-long learning.

    Students who complete the Social and Historical Studies requirement will demonstrate

    1. knowledge of human cultures based on an understanding of history, social situations, and social institutions;
    2. the ability to think critically and creatively;
    3. skills of inquiry and analysis;
    4. quantitative and/or qualitative literacy through theory and methodology;
    5. intercultural and/or civic knowledge.

    Course Characteristics

    Courses in this area examine individual, collective, and institutional behavior in social and historical contexts. Coursework may examine the interactions among diverse forces such as those arising in historical, communicative, geographical, social, cultural, legal, economic, and political contexts. Students will be introduced to theoretical approaches and methodologies for understanding social behavior and institutions. Courses may emphasize knowledge of specific historical and social situations or foster an appreciation for the diversity of human sociality and the complex forces shaping human history.

    At the discretion of departments, and with permission of the appropriate academic dean, exemptions for approved courses may be earned by satisfactory performance on departmentally approved examinations.

  • Natural and Mathematical Sciences

    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete courses in the Natural and Mathematical Sciences will demonstrate

    1. an understanding of scientific inquiry and the bases for technology;
    2. the ability to model and understand the physical and natural world;
    3. the ability to collect and interpret data, think critically, and conduct theoretically based inquiry;
    4. the ability to solve problems;
    5. analytical and/or quantitative skills.

    Course Characteristics

    Courses in this area will expose students to the nature and methods of scientific inquiry, emphasizing quantitative approaches to the testing of falsifiable hypotheses. These courses will begin to provide students with the tools and skills required not only to understand physical and biological phenomena but also to discover them through theoretically based inquiry, rigorous analytical thinking, and/or the collection and interpretation of empirical data, broadly interpreted. Development of these skills is an essential component for enabling the discerning of fact from myth and superstition; evaluating methodology, evidence, and opinion; problem-solving; and generally preparing students to be informed and active participants in modern society.

World Languages and Cultures

The Common Ground World Languages and Cultures requirement strives to increase student knowledge of the variety of international societies and may deal to some extent with U.S. culture in its international connections. See below for the learning Outcomes and course characteristics for the World Languages and Cultures requirement.

  • World Languages and Cultures Learning Outcomes

    Indiana University has a long tradition of excellence and leadership in international and global studies. Most notably, that tradition is seen in the support that Herman B Wells gave to the establishment of world-class departments and programs in that area, as well as the current emphasis across the entire university in giving students the tools to better understand, appreciate, and work in our ever-shrinking world. Specifically, the six–credit hour World Languages and Cultures requirement has the following goals, some or all of which may be met in the three possible ways described below: 1) to understand elements that distinguish cultures from one another and to be able to compare cultural perspectives; 2) to gain the linguistic tools to communicate in another language at the intermediate level; 3) to develop analytical skills appropriate to the study of international and intercultural relations; 4) to apply such understanding and skills by means of active participation and reflection in programs of study outside the United States.

    This requirement strives to increase student knowledge of the variety of international societies and may deal to some extent with U.S. culture in its international connections. It need not focus on the present but may, instead, be a historical subject. The requirement seeks to expand student knowledge of world affairs, cultures, societies, and values; explore traditions grounded in different cultural paradigms; and provide a framework for understanding and appreciating the ideas and values of different cultures. These goals are intended to provide a foundation for basic understanding and knowledge, which will be further developed in more advanced studies; internationalization and globalization should infuse a student's experience at Indiana University.

    Learning Outcomes

    Students who complete the World Languages and Cultures requirement will demonstrate

    1. an understanding of culture within a global and comparative context (specifically, an understanding that a particular culture is one of many diverse cultures and that alternate perceptions and behaviors may be based in cultural differences);
    2. knowledge of global issues, processes, trends, and systems (such as economic and political interdependency among nations, environmental-cultural interaction, global governance bodies, and nongovernmental organizations);
    3. knowledge of other cultures (including beliefs, values, perspectives, practices, and products);
    4. the ability to use cultural knowledge, diverse cultural frames of reference, and alternate cultural perspectives to think critically and solve problems;
    5. the ability to communicate and connect with people in other language communities in a range of settings for a variety of purposes, developing skills in each of the four modalities: speaking (productive), listening (receptive), reading (receptive), and writing (productive) [N.B. This learning outcome applies specifically to students who study a foreign language.];
    6. the ability to use foreign language skills and/or knowledge of other cultures to extend access to information, experiences, and understanding.

Shared Goals

Each degree program should be designed in such a way that students are provided opportunities to experience these additional aspects of an undergraduate education:

  • Intensive Writing

    Each degree program should articulate how undergraduate students fulfill this requirement within their degree program. Normally, the expectations for an intensive writing experience would be: taught by faculty in small sections or by individual arrangement; include a series of written assignments evaluated with close attention to organization and expression as well as to substance and argument; graded revision of assignments.

  • Information Fluency

    Information Fluency includes, but goes beyond, information technology skills, to introduce students to critical information resources that underlie the major field of study and introduce students to skills in utilizing information resources within that field. Students should be able to determine the extent of information needed, access the needed information effectively and efficiently, evaluate information and its sources critically, incorporate selected information into one's knowledge base, use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose, and understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally.

  • Diversity in the United States

    As approved by the Bloomington Faculty Council (Circular B39-1990), the faculty of each undergraduate degree-granting unit shall adopt a degree requirement appropriate to their curriculum that addresses issues of diversity in the United States. Adoption of a requirement that has a focus on the issues of diversity and cultural, racial, ethnic, class, age, ability, sexual orientation, religious, and gender discrimination within the context of the United States would be especially useful in achieving the objectives of enhanced understanding of diversity.

  • Enriching Educational Experiences

    Meaningful educational experiences, some of which may be outside the traditional classroom, can enhance the overall undergraduate academic experience. These experiences may or may not be linked to specific courses. Each academic program should set forth the accepted options for fulfilling this shared goal. IUB recognizes the value of different types of enriching educational activities, such as a service-learning course, internship, community service and community-based action research, fieldwork, capstone project, student teaching, independent research/creative activity program, approved study abroad experience, honors thesis, show, recital, performance, or advocacy in your major. Such experiences provide opportunities to apply discipline-specific skills and knowledge to community issues and to examine issues of service and social responsibility that relate to the chosen career field.

Shared Goals requirements vary by school and degree program.