Your general education courses—which account for approximately one-third of your total coursework—can be both a pathway to discovering your major and a complement to the specialized classes you will take within your major.
Over the course of your time at L&C, you’ll fulfill a set of requirements designed to ensure that you graduate ready to make an impact on the world. You’ll continue to explore and develop your interests through content-area coursework, some of which might overlap with your major requirements or be satisfied on overseas programs.
General Education Course Categories and Learning Objectives
As global citizens, we must speak and act knowledgeably, consider arguments counter to our own, and evaluate the strength of evidence used in our own and others’ claims. To further these ends, you are required to take one four-credit course that fosters bibliographic research and writing. Bibliographic Research in Writing (BRW)-designated courses will familiarize you with modes of critical inquiry by requiring you
- to discover and document the existing information available on a research question by identifying and evaluating relevant books, articles, and other types of sources; and
- to create a polished written product that may take the form of a research paper or other academic writing.
You will work closely with faculty in developing and revising your work, make use of print and digital library resources, and draw on the expertise of librarians in the process. The BRW need not be taken in your major, although many BRW courses may also count toward a major, minor, or another general education requirement.
Upon completing the requirements of a BRW-designated course, you will have:
- articulated or investigated a research question that engages with the scholarship of a given field;
- identified relevant literature of the scholarship area and documented your research process;
- used sources appropriately by considering the information-creation process, authority in context, diversity of perspectives, and the relationship of the sources to one another; and
- developed a polished written product incorporating revisions based on detailed faculty feedback.
Kopp AwardStudents working on research projects for classes with a BRW designation are invited to apply for the James J. Kopp Library Research Award. As BRW-designated courses are offered year round, there are two application deadlines, one at the end of each semester. Applications from both the fall and spring are reviewed in the summer, with two awards given to the strongest work from the entire year. An award ceremony is held each fall.
“Learning the nuts and bolts of sociological research in SOAN 205 (Research Theory and Design) gave me the tools I needed to pursue a topic I was interested in and excited about. It opened an entire realm of possible ways to apply my interest and most effectively communicate it to others.”
—Rose Thompson BA ’23, Kopp Award Winner Spring 2021
“In BIO 411 (Chromatin Structure and Dynamics), Professor Sharon Torigoe had us dig into the scientific literature—and ultimately submit our own research proposal —related to chromatin (the organization of DNA in the nuclei of cells). It was exciting to me to feel that I could not only absorb information, but also articulate my own ideas about this cutting-edge field of biology. By the end of the research process, I definitely felt more independent and confident in myself as a science student, which was really empowering.”
—Gila Winefeld BA ’23, Kopp Award Winner Spring 2021
The practice and study of the creative arts will increase your understanding of your own creative powers and potential, the artistry of others, and the historical and cultural contexts surrounding artistic creation. The arts provide insights into ourselves and into the complexities and ambiguities of artistic representation, meaning, and culture. You should therefore acquire, as part of your general education, an awareness of this unique yet foundational way of knowing, forging, and experiencing the world and themselves.
You may fulfill the creative arts requirement either by engaging in the creative process through courses in artistic production (e.g., the creation of studio art, media, design, music performance and composition, dance, theatre, creative writing) or courses in the study of artistic production (e.g., art history, literature, music history and theory, aesthetics).
Upon completing the requirements of a Creative Arts General Education course, you will have
demonstrated your knowledge of an art, an artistic process, its meaning, and/or the interpretation of an art through one or more of the following:
- the production of an artistic artifact/performance
- the analysis of artistic technique, form, and/or process
- the analysis of the frameworks of artistic production, representation, and reception (e.g., historical, cultural, theoretical, or global); and
- developed your own informed artistic point of view, through cultivating both a sense of receptivity to artistic expression and an understanding of art’s materials, techniques, concepts, and forms.
Courses in this category recognize culture, power, and identity as consequential themes within a liberal arts education. These themes have emerged in a variety of disciplines as critical lenses for grappling with historic and current discrimination, domination, and inequality. These courses also invite us to consider how broader structures of power interact with culture and/or identity to operate with respect to the varied histories and experiences within our community. Courses that meet this requirement approach a variety of topics from a range of analytical perspectives across the full scope of social, cultural, political, economic, scientific, psychological, and artistic processes represented in the Lewis & Clark curriculum. As you investigate the interplay of culture, power, and/or identity, you will learn to cultivate practices in communication, critical reflection on your own position, and/or recognition of different experiences, identities, and perspectives.
Upon completing the requirements of a Culture, Power, and Identity General Education course, you will have
- critically examined one or both of the following:
- the manner in which dynamic structures of culture and power affect society and individuals via social, cultural, political, economic, scientific, psychological, and/or artistic processes in historical and/or contemporary contexts.
- the ways in which individuals, embedded within structures of power, shape interactions in historical and/or contemporary contexts; and
- cultivated at least one of the following practices:
- collaborative and productive communication about culture, power, and/or identity in your community
- critical reflection on your own position in relation to culture and power
- recognition of different experiences, identities, and perspectives
In your first year, you’ll take one faculty-led foundational seminar per semester. These small classes (19–25 students) are designed to help you develop the reading, writing, discussion, and analytical skills you will need to succeed in college and for life. One of your two courses will focus on interpreting the meaning and significance of texts (CORE 120: Words), the other on interpreting quantitative information and models (CORE 121: Numbers). These are not simply writing and math classes; rather, these courses allow you to explore a specialized topic of particular interest with a faculty member and a small group of students. These topics might include:
- How to Build a Moral Machine
- Communication and the Environment
- Virtual Identities
- Conceptions of Justice
- Politics of Numbers
- Measuring Up
- This American Language
- Space, Time, Spacetime
- Fictions of Identity
Upon completing the requirements of the two first-year seminar courses, Words and Numbers, you will have
- examined ideas, arguments, biases, and assumptions coming from a variety of perspectives, including one’s own, with an open yet critical mind;
- analyzed texts and/or quantitative information, recognized, described, and questioned patterns, trends, anomalies, and relationships; and
- presented clear, compelling, and effective arguments and/or analysis, supported by evidence.
To become educated citizens of an interdependent world, you are expected to gain a critical understanding of perspectives, politics, economics, societies, religions, creative arts, and/or cultures distinct from the United States, sometimes through comparison with the United States. This understanding can occur either through cultural immersion or via a classroom experience.
You may fulfill the Global Perspectives requirement
- through immersion in the culture of another global region by successfully completing at least eight credits on a fall, spring, or summer semester Lewis & Clark overseas study program; or
- through taking a designated Global Perspectives course on campus.
Upon completing the requirements of a Global Perspectives General Education course, you will have
- immersed yourself in the culture of another global region by successfully completing at least eight credits on a fall, spring, or summer semester Lewis & Clark overseas study program; or
- taken an approved Global Perspectives course that either
- allows you to gain a critical understanding of perspectives, politics, economics, societies, religions, creative arts, and/or cultures distinct from those of the United States, or of regional or global trends therein; or
- fosters recognition and development of cross-cultural skills by comparing United States perspectives in politics, economics, societies, religions, creative arts, and/or cultures with those of other countries and regions.
Lewis & Clark is committed to the belief that global citizenship requires us to understand perspectives and contexts other than our own. These contexts and perspectives may be geographic and cultural, and they may be temporal. The Historical Perspectives requirement will engage you in explanations and understandings from outside our present moment that illustrate how our present arises from our past. Historical Perspectives courses attend to the ways that the stories we tell about the past are themselves historically influenced by cultural, social, political, economic, and religious motivations, and to the ways that our current explanations and understandings of the world are contingent. By studying events, texts, art, artifacts, and ideas from the past—and the narratives we construct about them—you will expand your imaginative and interpretative capacities and cultivate skepticism and humility in understanding the world beyond the present moment.
Courses fulfilling the Historical Perspectives requirement present you with opportunities to learn about events, texts, art, artifacts, or ideas significantly removed from the present perspective, i.e., prior to 1945, a year marking a significant break in global history.
Upon completing the requirements of a Historical Perspectives General Education course, you will have
- explained and demonstrated an understanding of contexts or perspectives from outside the current era;
- explained or evaluated events, texts, art, artifacts, or ideas from before 1945, including primary sources; and
- placed cultures, events, objects, texts, or ideas from before 1945 in conversation with one another and/or with the present moment.
To prepare for life-long learning and civic leadership in an interdependent world, you must be familiar with methods of scientific inquiry and reasoning that lead to evidence-based explanations of natural phenomena and inform the development of technology.
You will make necessary progress toward this goal by completing at least one course in the natural sciences. To register for many of the courses that fulfill this requirement, you must first do one of the following:
- Earn the appropriate score on a mathematics proficiency examination.
- Receive a score of 4 or 5 on an AP exam in calculus AB or BC.
- Receive a score of 5, 6, or 7 on an International Baccalaureate (IB) higher-level mathematics exam.
- Successfully complete QR 101 or another prerequisite course. Some courses have additional prerequisites. (See course descriptions.)
Upon completing the requirements of a Natural Sciences General Education course, you will have
- recognized science as an iterative, exploratory process that requires both reasoning and creativity;
- come to understand that scientific principles result from the analysis of evidence collected through experimental or observational approaches;
- developed and used skills for analysis and interpretation of scientific data;
- demonstrated familiarity with the use of data to generate and answer questions about natural phenomena;
- become familiar with the major concepts of at least one field of the natural sciences; and
- assessed the broader impact of topics discussed in the course.
Physical education is a facet of the liberal arts tradition that stresses the interdependence of the physical, mental, and social dimensions of human experience. You will learn to recognize and experience the positive benefits of building physical fitness and self-care habits, explore aspects of the body’s structure and function, and engage in experiences within a group or community setting.
The wide array of classes that satisfy this requirement are offered at many levels and modes of engagement, including physical education courses (with dozens of options from weightlifting to rock climbing to yoga and meditation), varsity sports, and dance and movement classes. Courses promote personal health and well-being, often serving collective purposes of expression and teamwork. You will learn to challenge yourself by setting goals and measuring progress toward those goals.
Upon completing the requirements of a Physical Education and Well-Being course, you will have
- learned to recognize and experience the positive benefits of building physical well-being and self-care habits as part of the liberal arts tradition;
- explored structural and functional aspects of your body as part of a healthy relationship with the body;
- discovered connections between the mind and body; and
- engaged in these experiences within a group or community setting.
The study of a language other than one’s own has always been a hallmark of a liberal education and is all the more important in today’s interdependent world. Learning a new language reveals nuances and subtleties that yield insight into cultural practices, values, belief systems, and everyday life in the contemporary world and/or in historical contexts.
At Lewis & Clark in particular, language learning has a place of central importance, both because of Lewis & Clark’s historical commitment to global perspectives and because encounters with diverse cultures have become an integral part of the undergraduate program. Not only does language study enhance our appreciation for and sensitivity to the world around us, it also better enables us to understand and appreciate our own languages and cultures.
World language proficiency, whether in a modern or classical language, is a requirement for all Lewis & Clark students. You can satisfy this requirement in any of the following ways:
- Completing study of a language other than English through the 201 level, either on campus or by completing an approved overseas program. (The list of approved programs is available from the Office of Overseas and Off-Campus Programs.)
- Placing into 202 or above on a language placement examination for a language other than English. (Language placement examinations must be provided by a regionally accredited institution.)
- Students admitted as international students whose first language is not English are exempt from the world language requirement.
- Students admitted as U.S. citizens or dual citizens who have acquired non-English language proficiency by virtue of living in another country must complete a language placement examination from a regionally accredited institution. If no regionally accredited institution offers a placement exam in the language, other testing alternatives may be available. Please see the Registrar’s Office for information and procedure.
Upon completing the World Language General Education requirement, you will have
- obtained a passing grade in any world or classical language course at the 201 level; or
- achieved an ACTFL score (for modern languages) equivalent to the 201 level in both speaking and writing; or
- met the SCS guidelines (for classical languages) equivalent to the 201 level in reading and translation skills; and
- acquired an understanding of the cultural, historical, and/or literary contexts of that language.