General Education Program
The Purpose of SXU's General Education Program
SXU's General Education Program is the common, academic foundation that unites all students who attend and graduate from Saint Xavier. It carries the values of a Catholic University sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, provides an intellectual framework which infuses personal and professional practice with the spirit of liberal learning, and deepens the characteristics that promote a well-lived life. The Program consists of a set of course and curricular requirements that the University believes are important for all undergraduates, especially skills, like critical thinking, effective writing, persuasive speaking, and the capacity to work well with others; and characteristics, like tenacity, personal and social responsibility, determination, and ethical integrity.
To achieve these aims, the GE Program offers students a curriculum that includes a limited set of courses that all students take, such as Rhetoric and Writing (ENGL 120), Oral Communication (COMM 101) and the First-Year Seminar (FYS 175), and a much larger collection of courses that meet common requirements, such as the choice to take "Chicago Neighborhoods" (ANTH 244) to fulfill a two-course requirement in Social Science, when a student could have another course among the 45 courses that are available each semester.
When it comes to the characteristics of a Catholic University sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, SXU's GE Program teaches "the Catholic intellectual tradition in its pursuit of truth and the integration of knowledge for the common good." It upholds "the values of mercy, justice and compassion," by developing graduates who are "informed and shaped intellectually, socially and spiritually through a faith-inspired education." The academic study of the liberal arts and sciences and mastery of the professional disciplines "enable Mercy graduates to be responsible leaders in their communities and [in their] professions, informed by a Christian commitment to mercy and justice".
We envision students who are intellectually alive and socially responsible.
Learning Goals of the SXU's General Education Program
The aims of the GE Program can be divided into three areas. The first is the development of essential skills:
- Critical Thinking - the ability to carefully explore issues in all their complexity and developing well-informed views and opinions
- Creativity - the ability to produce music, or art, or writing that is creative, skillful, and courageous
- Writing - the ability to write well, in ways that are clear, organized, and forceful
- Public Speaking - the ability to deliver strong, organized, persuasive presentations
- Mathematics - the ability to solve quantitative problems and use quantitative data to understand and create sophisticated arguments and solve complex problems
- Information Literacy - the ability to find, evaluate, and use information critically, ethically, and effectively
- Collaboration - the ability to work well with others, contributing to group tasks and maintaining healthy relationships
The second is the fostering of personal characteristics:
- Civic Responsibility - the ability to understand and respond to the challenges of being in a democracy, and being in a world like ours, which needs people to consider others
- Ethical Integrity - the ability to consider ethical dilemmas, make ethical arguments, and take ethical positions, especially when they are unpopular
- Life-Long Learning - the ability to use a short-term experience in the academy as the seedbed for a life "of the mind;" always seeking, ever curious, in possession of a sharp and independent intellect
- Sensitive to the experiences/perspectives of "others" -- in and outside the U.S. -- the capacity to consider differences in race, class, gender, privilege and power and to consider the experiences and perspectives of those outside the U.S., especially the vulnerable
The third is the capacity to see and understand the world differently according to the disciplinary lens that is being used:
- The Humanities - the ability to understand, through critical study and performance, the world opened up through the lens of Art, Music, and Literature
- History - the ability to understand change over time, chronology, and historical argumentation
- Natural Science - the ability of understand and apply the scientific method to fields like Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, and Geology
- Social Science - the ability to understand and apply the scientific method to fields like Psychology, Criminal Justice, Economics, Political Science, Communication, and Sociology
- Philosophy - the ability to understand, evaluate, and formulate philosophical concepts, problems, and arguments
- Religious Studies - the ability to understand, evaluate and present theologically-informed views and claims, especially in the context of the Catholic tradition and the commitments of the Sisters of Mercy to peace and justice