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General Education Studies (AGES)

What do Augustana students accomplish during their four years with us? Of course they will set practical goals such as starting a career or getting a coveted slot in a graduate program, but there are other compelling reasons for our students to spend four years working hard at their education. We designed the Augustana General Education Studies (AGES) program to help students develop the depth, versatility and critical thinking skills of well-educated citizens, no matter what fields they choose.

Dr. Peter Kivisto leads a discussion on the lawn outside Old Main.

AGES is not the typical general education curriculum; it's not a required set of courses presenting general information students need before they move on to their "real" classes. The thinking and learning skills students develop through AGES will prove essential throughout students' education, first and then beyond graduation.

Augustana's first-year inquiry sequence develops students' the ability to think about our world and its challenges from many perspectives, an important skill in the global marketplace. Students also learn to appreciate how their views differ from others', and how these differences make our encounters complex and interesting. Students will find that the ability to think and communicate their thoughts with clarity and dexterity will ground their experience in graduate school, in their jobs and throughout life. Meanwhile, it's exciting and new to take general education coursework that inspires students to ask questions, make connections, and express their ideas with skill and conviction-in short, to experience learning as they never have before.

First-Year Inquiry Sequence (3 courses)

In their first year, students will meet new people, some of whom will become lifelong friends. They will be presented with a wide array of possibilities to learn outside the traditional classroom. As they become familiar with academic subjects that may at first seem foreign, they will become more adept at thinking and communicating their thoughts critically, thoroughly and with an open mind. Our first-year inquiry (FYI) program is designed students develop as active, critical learners.

During the first year, each student's class schedule will include a sequence of three general education courses from the FYI program. Students accepted into the Foundations or Logos honors programs will have a specialized first-year curriculum prepared by the honors faculty and program directors. Other courses to round out the first year might include introductory courses in your major, foreign language, other general education courses, or electives.

Each first-year course is unique, yet they all have common features. To help students begin to engage in academic inquiry, each of the three courses in the sequence are framed around an overarching question. FYI 101 Rhetoric and the Liberal Arts asks, "What does it mean to be a liberally-educated individual." The winter term course, FYI 102, asks, "How does an exploration of the past deepen our understanding of the human condition?" In the FYI 103 students ask, "How do we embrace the challenges of our diverse and changing world?" Faculty members teaching in each term work together to select readings, design assignments and plan events. Course topics are enhanced through Symposium Days, featuring invited speakers, alumni, advising sessions and opportunities to practice the liberal arts and be involved with our community. The curriculum takes full advantage of the rich learning/living environment here at Augustana: knowledge gained in one class will prompt further inquiry in another or connect with student group debates or late-night discussions.

Christian Traditions (one course)

After successful completion of FYI 101 and before the end of the second year, students enroll in one of five courses in Christian traditions. These courses are designed to introduce and explore historical developments, sacred texts, theological claims, ethics and/or practices within western Christian traditions and their contemporary expressions in America. Courses which fulfill this requirement include American Christianities, Christian Ethics, Christian Origins, Christian Scripture and Christian Theology. Each of these courses also carries one of the six Learning Perspective designations and may be part of a Learning Community.

Learning Perspectives (9 courses)

Throughout your Augustana education, AGES coursework will introduce you to perspectives on the past, the arts, the individual and society, literature and texts, the natural world, and human values and existence. These Learning Perspectives (LP) courses will present you with the questions and possible answers each field explores, and will examine how knowledge in each area is discovered or created. Many LP courses also fulfill requirements in various majors.

Learning Communities (2 courses)

At some point in your undergraduate education you will be a member of a learning community (LC), consisting of at least two courses from different disciplines linked by a common theme or common question. For example, you might take a course in environmental literature and environmental conservation. Or, you could take a class in medical ethics and developmental biology. The learning communities illustrate connections and contrasts between disciplines and encourage thinking about human problems and issues from different perspectives. Some LC courses may fulfill LP requirements and may also apply to some majors. Students can also fulfill this requirement by participating in an Augustana international term.

Skills Requirements (variable number of courses)

To finish their general education coursework, students will fulfill certain skills requirements. These include reaching foreign language competency, two physical education classes and courses that focus on quantitative reasoning and multicultural diversity/global diversity perspectives.

By the time an Augustana student graduates, approximately one-third of the student's total classes will be from the AGES sequence, about one-third will be part of the major, and the remaining third will be either electives or contributing to a minor area of study. This combination makes our graduates well-rounded, well-educated individuals, with the knowledge and skills base to serve them well throughout life.