The Liberal Studies Program (LSP) is the common curriculum taken by all students enrolled in the traditional undergraduate colleges at DePaul University. The LSP is designed to enhance writing abilities, mathematical and technological proficiencies, and critical and creative thinking skills, while broadening students’ knowledge base beyond their chosen major. LSP courses foster an appreciation of different religious and philosophical worldviews, promote application of ethical reasoning, and realize new understanding of concepts and theories through multiple methods of inquiry and disciplinary perspective. In LSP seminars, students read primary texts, write research papers, and communicate their ideas orally. Essential intellectual skills are further reinforced throughout the program with performance assignments, field observations, laboratory research, and more. While the LSP curriculum itself is quite varied, the Program as a whole shares these four learning goals:
- Value Consciousness and Ethical Reasoning
- Multicultural Perspective; and 4) Creative and Critical Thinking
Reflectiveness encourages students to not just learn scholarly concepts and theories, but also be able to articulate how they have come to know what they do. Value Consciousness and Ethical Reasoning each stimulate a sense of personal responsibility with new understanding, and a desire to create a more just and humane world. A multicultural perspective demands that students grapple with the plurality of worldviews, and enhance their awareness of the experiences, contributions, and concerns of diverse communities, in both contemporary and historical times. Across the curriculum, creative and critical thinking skills are emphasized to develop in students the capacity for self-critical and autonomous thinking. Ultimately, LSP courses lay the groundwork to discover, transform, and create knowledge, and are meant to instill a thirst for lifelong learning.
The Liberal Studies Program (LSP) has two primary components. The first is termed the Common Core, and consists of a series of classes taken sequentially by students as they progress towards their degree. Core requirements begin for incoming students in their first autumn quarter when all take a Chicago Quarter (CQ) course. From over a hundred different topic offerings, each student selects a single class that is either Discover Chicago, which includes an intensive immersion week experience prior to the start of fall classes, or Explore Chicago, which meets during the regular fall term. Regardless of type, all CQ instructors use both traditional and experiential pedagogies to teach students not only relevant course content, but also information about the City’s people, communities, institutions, and system of public transportation. All CQ classes also include a co-curricular component called the Common Hour, which is designed to facilitate students’ transition to the college experience, and give them initial exposure to DePaul's distinctive mission.
Another Common Core requirement in the first year is First-year Writing. The WRD 103-WRD 104 sequence introduces students to different conventions of writing and instructs them how to analyze readings, to write for different audiences, and to take a rhetorical stance in their scholarly papers. (Students taking WRD 103 and/or WRD 104 at DePaul must receive grades of C- or better.) Upon successful completion of First-year Writing, students have the ability to express themselves creatively and can defend and document a clearly articulated thesis in a scholarly paper. The Focal Point Seminar (see College requirements) further emphasizes different forms of writing, oral communication skills, and seminar behavior, such that they are able to intellectually discuss and debate beyond their own opinions. Lastly, first-year students begin (depending on College/major requirements) a two-course sequence in Quantitative Reasoning and Technology Literacy (QRTL I & II), designed to develop quantitative reasoning, the use of information technologies (e.g., databases, statistical analysis software, programming algorithms), and the necessary skills to think critically and reflectively in an increasingly sophisticated global economy. (Some students may be required to take preparatory math classes before being eligible to enroll in QRTL courses, while other students may have one or both QRTL courses waived on the basis of AP classes, assessment tests, or major area of study).
Students continue to take Common Core courses based on their class standing. In the second year, the requirement is the Seminar on Multiculturalism in the U.S. This seminar draws students into key debates about multiculturalism and encourages critical thinking and reflection in a diverse workplace and society. The LSP requirement for the junior year is an Experiential Learning course, which can take the form of doing laboratory or field research, studying abroad, engaging in community service, or completing an internship in a field of study. Students connect their experiences to in-class readings and writing assignments. The final Common Core course is the Senior Capstone, which enables students to synthesize the methods and knowledge learned in their major field of study courses into a final project, while reflecting upon the values and content of their liberal studies classes.
The second component of the LSP is made up of six distinct Learning Domains: 1) Arts and Literature 2) Philosophical Inquiry; 3) Religious Dimensions; 4) Scientific Inquiry; 5) Self, Society, and the Modern World; and 6) Understanding the Past. These Domains reflect a conventional liberal arts and sciences curriculum, yet are not based in any one discipline. Within any single Domain, basic criteria, learning outcomes, and modes of inquiry are shared, but the courses themselves come from many different departments, programs, and Colleges across the University. By having such broadly defined Learning Domains, students receiving a liberal education at DePaul are assured a breadth of pedagogical experiences but also enjoy great latitude in selecting, experiencing, and applying the many types of intellectual inquiry taking place in a modern university.