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SMSU Liberal Education Program

Education The Liberal Education Program at Southwest Minnesota State University provides students with the opportunity to obtain a solid, general education across the fundamental domains of human knowledge. When empowered with these ideas, facts, skills, and values, students can understand and effectively participate in the affairs of the community, nation, and wider world. The Liberal Education Program at SMSU utilizes the ten Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) goal areas as its framework.  The ten goal areas focus on core liberal arts and sciences competencies. Graduates of SMSU will continue their liberal arts education as lifelong learners who will engage in a process of integration of the mind, body and spirit.

Structure of the Liberal Education Program

Communication, Critical Thinking, and Information Literacy are considered to be the core skills emphasized throughout the SMSU Liberal Education Program (LEP).

The Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) is one part of the Liberal Education Program.  Courses to satisfy the 10 MnTC goal areas serve as starting points for a student’s achievement of the LEP outcomes. While completing these courses, students cannot count more than two courses with the same prefix. Taking a course that satisfies more than one area does not reduce the overall credit total.

In addition to the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum students at SMSU complete additional requirements in the core skill areas. 

Other Curricular Requirements

  • Each student will be required to complete a 3-credit course, at the sophomore level or above, that focuses on written communication skills and builds on the other core skills.
  • Each major must include one or more upper-level courses that emphasize the Core Skills of written and oral communication, information literacy, and critical thinking. These courses may be from the major’s department OR they may be courses offered by other departments.

Description of Minnesota Transfer Curriculum Goal Areas:

Goal Area 1: Communication
To develop writers and speakers who use the English language effectively and who read, write, speak, and listen critically. As a base, all students should complete introductory communication requirements early in their collegiate studies. Writing competency is an ongoing process to be reinforced through writing-intensive courses and writing across the curriculum. Speaking and listening skills need reinforcement through multiple opportunities for interpersonal communication, public speaking, and discussion.

Goal Area 2: Critical Thinking
To develop thinkers who are able to unify factual, creative, rational, and value-sensitive modes of thought. Critical thinking will be taught and used throughout the general education curriculum in order to develop students’ awareness of their own thinking and problem-solving procedures. To integrate new skills into their customary ways of thinking, students must be actively engaged in practicing thinking skills and applying them to open-ended problems.

Goal Area 3: Natural Sciences
To improve students’ understanding of natural science principles and of the methods of scientific inquiry, i.e., the ways in which scientists investigate natural science phenomena. As a basis for lifelong learning, students need to know the vocabulary of science and to realize that while a set of principles has been developed through the work of previous scientists, ongoing scientific inquiry and new knowledge will bring changes in some of the ways scientists view the world. By studying the problems that engage today’s scientists, students learn to appreciate the importance of science in their lives and to understand the value of a scientific perspective. Students should be encouraged to study both the biological and physical sciences.

Goal Area 4: Mathematical/Logical Reasoning
To increase students’ knowledge about mathematical and logical modes of thinking. This will enable students to appreciate the breadth of applications of mathematics, evaluate arguments, and detect fallacious reasoning. Students will learn to apply mathematics, logic, and/or statistics to help them make decisions in their lives and careers. Minnesota’s public higher education systems have agreed that developmental mathematics includes the first three years of a high school mathematics sequence through intermediate algebra.

Goal Area 5: History and the Social and Behavioral Sciences
To increase students’ knowledge of how historians and social and behavioral scientists discover, describe, and explain the behaviors and interactions among individuals, groups, institutions, events, and ideas. Such knowledge will better equip students to understand themselves and the roles they play in addressing the issues facing humanity.

Goal Area 6: Humanities and the Fine Arts
To expand students’ knowledge of the human condition and human cultures, especially in relation to behavior, ideas, and values expressed in works of human imagination and thought. Through study in disciplines such as literature, philosophy, and the fine arts, students will engage in critical analysis, form aesthetic judgments, and develop an appreciation of the arts and humanities as fundamental to the health and survival of any society. Students should have experiences in both the arts and humanities.

Goal Area 7: Human Diversity, Race, Power, and Justice in the United States (Previously Goal Area 7: Human Diversity)
To increase students’ understanding of individual and group differences (e.g. race, gender, class) and their knowledge of the traditions and values of various groups in the United States. Students should be able to evaluate the United States’ historical and contemporary responses to group differences.

Goal Area 8: Global Perspective
To increase students’ understanding of the growing interdependence of nations and peoples and develop their ability to apply a comparative perspective to cross-cultural social, economic, and political experiences.

Goal Area 9: Ethical and Civic Responsibility
To develop students’ capacity to identify, discuss, and reflect upon the ethical dimensions of political, social, and personal life and to understand the ways in which they can exercise responsible and productive citizenship. While there are diverse views of social justice or the common good in a pluralistic society, students should learn that responsible citizenship requires them to develop skills to understand their own and others’ positions, be part of the free exchange of ideas, and function as public-minded citizens.

Goal Area 10: People and the Environment
To improve students’ understanding of today’s complex environmental challenges. Students will examine the inter-relatedness of human society and the natural environment. Knowledge of both bio-physical principles and socio-cultural systems is the foundation for integrative and critical thinking about environmental issues.

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