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For Faculty

A note to faculty

On April 24, 2019 the Faculty Senate General Studies committee and the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee approved changes recommended by the General Studies Renovation Task Force.  The following is a summary of those changes.  For anyone interested, here is the full document of recommendations:  General Studies Renovation to Senate 4_17_19 or Handout to Senate 4_24_19


The existing General Studies categories are the same except for Social and Behavioral Sciences 1 & 2 will combine into Social and Behavioral Sciences.  Students will take 6 total credits in the new category instead of 3 credits of each.  This change first appears in the 2020 catalog.  

The General Studies categories are

  • Written Communication (6 credits)
  • Oral Communication (3 credits)
  • Quantitative Literacy (3 credits)
  • Natural and Physical Science (6 credits)
  • Social and Behavioral Science (catalog 2020 and later) (6 credits)
  • Arts and Humanities (6 credits)
  • Historical (3 credits)
  • Global Diversity (3 credits-- this is a double-dip class that will also carry another category attribute)

The total credits for General Studies will stay the same.  

Multicultural remains a graduation requirement, but we've included it in our marketing materials for clarity for students since many Multicultural courses are also General Studies courses. 


Grandparenting Courses into the Renovated Program

Part of the recommendations approved by senate is to grandparent in all existing General Studies courses into the renovated program.  Therefore, all general studies courses, regardless of catalog year, should focus on the new student learning outcomes and category descriptions immediately.  Courses in SBS 1 and SBS 2 can begin working under the new SBS learning outcomes as well, regardless of catalog year.  


7-year Re-Designation

One of the Faculty Senate bylaws states that all General Studies courses will go up for re-designation every 7 years.  Therefore, all courses who last received designation in 2012 or earlier are up for re-designation in fall 2019.  Representatives from those departments will be notified via email.  The deadline for these re-designations will be the same as other curriculum deadlines.  The good news is, if there are non-substantive changes made to the course, the course will go directly from the department to the Faculty Senate General Studies committee.  This should save the college curriculum committees from reviewing 70 extra proposals per year.  More information on proposing or re-designating a course, determining when your course is due for re-designation, and finding the correct Curriculog form can be found here:  Proposing or Re-Designating a Course.


General Studies Course Proposal Process

The course proposal process has also been changed, so when you open Curriculog and populate the form, the only thing left to fill out should be the following questions:

  1. Describe how the course fulfills the General Studies Mission.
  2. Describe how the course fits the description of the desired General Studies category.
  3. Describe how the course fulfills each student learning outcome (SLO) for the desired General Studies category. 
  4. Provide an example(s) of a key assignment(s) and explain how it will be used to assess each General Studies SLO for the desired category.  (Provide example as upload/attachment or pasted text).
  5. Click a checkbox to agree that, "I understand that a significant portion of this course (≥80%) must fulfill the General Studies mission, category description and category SLO’s of the chosen General Studies category."

More information:  Proposing or Re-Designating a Course.


Why the Renovation?

Several faculty expressed that they'd like to update the Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) before assessing General Studies again in order to make assessment more meaningful.  This sentiment worked its way into a few reports from a Faculty Senate General Studies sub-committee as well as the University Provost's Assessment Committee.  Through forums and discussions in fall 2018 and spring 2019, faculty told the General Studies Renovation Task Force what they wanted to see prioritized in each General Studies category.  Faculty told us what would be useful to learn about their students' learning.  In the process, we've reframed the General Studies program to be accessible to students, staff, and faculty.  We've simplified the program, and we hope you will find that the new outcomes add meaning to your courses.  Some of our SLOs feel aspirational, something to work on together to achieve at the General Studies level.  If you find an SLO that you aren't currently working on in your General Studies course, we hope you'll agree that it is important and see it as an opportunity to try something new.  We're in this together and we look forward to offering opportunities for collaborating to find creative ways to achieve the outcomes that are built for student success.  

Vision for Faculty Teaching General Studies Courses

The faculty have intricately designed General Studies courses to fulfill both university level and General Studies level goals for all MSU Denver students.  Each course has passed a rigorous curriculum approval process, undergoes regular measurement of effective student learning to be included in the General Studies program, and is aligned with the mission of the General Studies Program.  Faculty are experts in their fields of study and have been trained specially to teach the students with diverse academic backgrounds taking General Studies courses.  Faculty use learner-centered, active learning teaching methods in the General Studies courses that encourage student collaboration.

General Studies courses connect work in the discipline to contemporary societal issues.  Faculty use the content of their discipline to demonstrate the critical and creative thinking and reasoning used to solve relevant problems.  Faculty are challenged to efficiently address the answer to the questions, “If this were the last course a student would take in my field, what would I want them to understand about how we have arrived at how we know what we know?” and, “What skills are most relevant to my students’ future success?” 

General Studies Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)


The General Studies program provides the foundation for the Bachelor’s degree. Students develop thinking, reasoning, and communication skills while discovering new ideas and expanding their views.  The coursework is designed to create the opportunity for learning across different disciplines and builds experiences for students as they grow into lifelong learners.

Social and Behavioral Science

Description: Courses in Social and Behavioral Science study the behavior and actions of individuals, groups, and/or institutions using scientific methods and approaches. Social and Behavioral Science also develops a student’s ability to examine and influence those behaviors and actions between and among larger social, economic, political, and/or geographic contexts. 

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Understand fundamental concepts- Describe fundamental concepts in the social and behavioral sciences.
  2. Analyze relations- Examine how individuals, groups, communities, and social institutions relate or interact with each other and/or the natural world using theories and methods in the social and behavioral sciences. 
  3. Engage critically- Engage with social and behavioral science tools, approaches, and skills to explore complex human, social, political, cultural, and/or global interactions and issues.

Arts and Humanities

Description:  In Arts and Humanities courses students interpret, analyze, and create texts and other artistic works to deepen their understanding of the various contexts that shape the human experience and explore fundamental questions of identity, value, diversity, and meaning.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Understand context- Describe how the context (historical, racial, ethnic, material, technological, religious, intellectual, cultural, gender, etc.) influences the creation, content, or interpretation of a text, performance, work of art, etc.
  2. Engage Critically- Critically engage with a text, performance, work of art, etc. by applying social/political, epistemic, aesthetic, pragmatic, moral/ethical, or other discipline-appropriate standards.
  3. Create an original project- Implement course content or skills through the creation of an original project (essay, argument, narrative, reflection, oral presentation, performance, work of art, etc.).

Natural and Physical Science

Description:  The Natural and Physical Sciences involve discovering knowledge in natural or physical sciences, applying scientific thinking and reasoning, and critically thinking about the use of scientific information.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Understand foundational knowledge- Explain the foundational knowledge of a particular field of natural or physical science
  2. Apply scientific principles- Apply principles and techniques of scientific thinking.
  3. Think critically- Evaluate the credibility of scientific information and interpret the impact of its use or misuse in society.


Description:  Historical thinking contextualizes the present by using a wide range of sources and methods to understand how people experienced the past.

Student Learning Outcomes (these are unchanged from the old, just renumbered): 

  1. Locate sources- Demonstrate the ability to locate sources when information is needed, and to evaluate the authenticity, validity, and reliability of resources applied to a specific purpose.
  2. Communicate in writing- Communicate in writing with an awareness of audience, by using language conventions appropriate to the occasion and task.
  3. Employ historical knowledge- Demonstrate historical knowledge of the United States, the world, or one of the major regions of the world.
  4. Understand context- Demonstrate, using historical sources, how context and contingency influence change over time.
  5. Interpret evidence- Develop an effective historical interpretation and marshal primary and/or secondary source evidence to support it.

Quantitative Literacy

Description:  Competency in quantitative literacy represents a student’s ability to use quantifiable information and mathematical analysis to make connections and draw conclusions. The main focus of each Quantitative Literacy course is the use of mathematical techniques and analysis, with problems from a broad spectrum of real-life and abstract settings requiring translation to and from mathematical forms.

Student Learning Outcomes:  These are the same as before with one removed.

  1. Apply and anlyze information- Apply mathematical techniques to the analysis of quantitative problems.
  2. Communicate using mathematical forms- Communicate the mathematical process and results in text, graphics, and symbols.

Oral Communication

Description:  Students learn to perform effective and ethical oral communication that is appropriate to diverse audiences, settings, media, and goals. 

Student Learning Outcomes: 

  1. Develop a message- Develop a clear, purposeful message with coherent and effective content.
  2. Use data and evidence- Incorporate various and credible supporting material (e.g. examples, statistics, analogies, illustrations, and quotations).
  3. Listen and respond- Practice effective listening strategies that enhance understanding, evaluation and engagement.
  4. Adapt to audience- Adapt to varied audiences, their beliefs, values, and attitudes, as well as to features of contexts, situations, and interactions.
  5. Communicate appropriately- Perform skillful non-verbal communication (e.g. vocal variety, pace and physical behavior) appropriate to audience and context.
  6. Communicate clearly- Perform skillful verbal communication (e.g. clear, vivid, and/or compelling language) appropriate to audience and context.

Written Communication

Description:  Written communication is the development and expression of ideas in writing across many genres and styles. It includes understanding how writers may shape texts for their specific rhetorical situation.  It includes multimodal composing and the creation of texts that combine words, images, and/or data. Written communication abilities develop through interactive and iterative experiences across the curriculum.

Student Learning Outcomes: 

  1. Employ rhetorical knowledge- Exhibit a thorough understanding of audience, purpose, genre, and context that is responsive to the situation.
  2. Develop content- Create and develop ideas within the context of the situation and the assigned task(s).
  3. Apply genre and disciplinary conventions- Apply formal and informal conventions of writing, including organization, content, presentation, formatting, and stylistic choices, in particular forms and/or fields.
  4. Use sources and/or evidence- Critically read, evaluate, apply, and synthesize evidence and/or sources in support of a claim.
  5. Document sources and evidence- Use an appropriate documentation system.
  6. Use rhetorically effective conventions- Demonstrate proficiency with conventions, including spellings, grammar, mechanics, and word choice appropriate to the writing task.

Global Diversity

Description:  Global Diversity refers to a student’s ability to critically analyze and engage complex, interconnected global systems (such as natural, physical, social, cultural, economic, or political) and their implications for individuals, groups, communities, or cultures.  These courses will introduce students to various concepts toward valuing diversity and the importance of inclusivity.  Students should seek to understand how their actions affect both local and global communities.  Courses in this category must contain a majority of material from one or more regions or countries outside the U.S. 

Student Learning Outcomes: 

  1. Understand global interconnections- Describe the implications of global interconnections, including their impact on culture, societies, the environment, or the individual.
  2. Analyze global diversity- Analyze connections between worldviews, experiences, and/or power structures of differing cultures in historical or contemporary contexts.

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