The Challenge Curriculum

The world is not a linear, checkbox world. Neither is a Gustavus education.

Our general education curriculum—the Challenge Curriculum—sharpens the best skills we know employers want from applicants: written and verbal communication skills; the ability to work within teams and across cultural, geographic, and language boundaries; and creative, multidisciplinary problem-solving of open-ended problems.

In classic liberal arts fashion, all courses stem from five areas of study: the arts, humanities, natural science, human behavior and social institutions, and theological studies. Most students are introduced to the Gustavus learning experience through a First-Term Seminar.

“We encourage students to get out of the checkbox mentality of general education courses, to integrate concepts across all courses and across their time at Gustavus.”
—provost Brenda Kelly

In addition, students complete coursework in these areas:

Global Affairs and Cultures These courses examine past or present topics of global reach, from multiple perspectives and including diverse voices, in relation to human populations in their social, economic, cultural, political, or ecological environments.

U.S. Identities and Difference These courses examine multiple and non-majority social constructions of identity in the US, including the intersectionality between race/ethnicity and at least one other category of identity (gender, class, sexuality, etc.).

The Challenge Seminar A bookend to the First-Term Seminar, this capstone course is the culmination of a student’s general education experience. It is an opportunity for a student to examine, respond to, and reflect on contemporary questions and challenges from an interdisciplinary perspective, as well as their personal values, plans for life after college, and their future role in the world.

Since the Challenge Curriculum’s launch in 2020, hundreds of new and contemporary courses have been developed by faculty. Here’s an interdisciplinary sampling: