The Challenge Curriculum

Course Requirements and Area Designations

The full list of Gustavus graduation requirements are available in the Gustavus Academic Bulletin. Students are required by college policy to follow the general education requirements found in the catalog in effect at the time they entered the college.

First-Term Seminar (1)

First-year students enroll in this small, discussion-based course during their first semester. FTS students practice critical thinking, writing, and speaking. Students examine values while considering enduring and contemporary questions or challenges. The FTS instructor serves as the academic advisor until students declare a major or are admitted into a certification program (e.g., Athletic Training, Education, Exercise Physiology, Nursing). Each FTS carries a WRIT designation.

Challenge Seminar (1)

The Challenge Seminar bookends the First Term Seminar by providing students an opportunity to collaboratively examine and propose responses to enduring and contemporary questions or challenges from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students reflect on how the college’s mission and their education has influenced their values, plans after college, and vision of their role in the world. Like the First Term Seminar, these courses will explore how values relate to a complex challenges and engage students in critical thinking, writing, speaking, and reflection.

Distributive Area Courses (5)

Note: No more than two courses from the same department may be counted.

Arts (ARTSC)
Courses in this area provide students with intellectual, embodied and practical experiences that open new paths to understanding and interpreting themselves and the world. Through engagement and immersion in the creative process, students learn how the arts historically represent, reinforce, and/or critique culture. Students also learn interpersonal and organizational skills such as critical thinking, leadership, creative research and problem solving, strategies for collaboration, intercultural communication, attention to detail, discipline, and community engagement. 

Human Behavior and Social Institutions (HBSI)
Courses in this area rely on empirical data (quantitative and qualitative) to generate and answer questions, such as: Why do humans behave and think as they do? How do social institutions form and function? How do humans and institutions interact? They also develop theories that contribute to an understanding of individual and group behavior in various contexts.

Humanities (HUMN)
Courses in this area examine what it means to be human through the study of artistic and literary expression, history, language, philosophy, rhetoric, and religion. They equip students to understand and evaluate human thought, culture, and history, and the ways in which human beings construct meaning from experience. They also offer an opportunity to reflect on what makes a purposeful life in the wider world.

Natural Science (NTSCI)
Courses in this area examine scientific questions with a variety of methods and tools, including hands-on work in a laboratory setting, and the communication of findings.

Theological Studies (THEOL)
Courses in this area consider how religious people think about God and the world and how beliefs, texts, practices, and ethics relate to each other and to their cultural contexts. Because the academic study of theology is interdisciplinary in nature and interactive with the human arts and sciences, courses may include approaches from multiple disciplines including religious studies, history, philosophy, and social sciences. Students will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate our religiously diverse world.

Quantitative Reasoning (1) 

Courses in this area focus on understanding and evaluating quantitative or logical assertions, as well as conducting and communicating quantitative or logical analysis by preparing students to read, analyze, and critique mathematical, logical, statistical, and/or algorithmic analyses and increasing their understanding of how such methods are properly used. They also teach students to understand and apply mathematical, logical, statistical, and/or algorithmic methods in a discipline-specific context. A key feature of the QUANT course is that students perform analyses themselves, rather than merely critiquing or interpreting existing work. Students practice, receive feedback, and refine their quantitative skills.

Global Contexts

Courses in these areas help students gain knowledge, understanding, and skills in multiple contexts that will allow them to act as responsible global citizens.

Global Affairs and Cultures (1)
Courses in this area examine global reach topics in the context of social, economic, cultural, political, or ecological environments, considering global interactions and interconnections.

Non-English Languages and Cultures (2)
Courses in this area help students gain intercultural knowledge and participate meaningfully in global culture. Students will take two sequential courses of a non-English language and culture at the college level, preferably in the first two years (a placement exam or formal evaluation will determine placement in the appropriate course level).

U.S. Identities and Difference (1)
Courses in this area explore identity formation (e.g., race, gender, class, sexualtiy) in the U.S., examine separate and intersectional identity constructions in context, and reflect on the varied ways in which difference and identity impact policies, institutions, and/or communities here and abroad.

Writing Across the Curriculum (4)

Through the Writing Across the Curriculum Program, Gustavus helps students develop this rhetorical competency, as writers learn to make their cases in the most effective ways possible.

Writing in the First Year (WRIT)
Courses in this area use writing to express ideas and to inform and communicate with others. Learn to make rhetorical choices (style and content selected to accommodate purpose, context, and audience), making a case in the most effective ways possible. Take up to 1, typically in the first year.

Writing and Information Literacy (WRITL)
Courses in this area use writing to investigate and evaluate different forms of information (print journalism, digital forms, visual media, etc.) to create arguments for a general audience. Draft, revise, and edit multiple short pieces of writing with peer and instructor feedback.

Writing in the Disciplines (WRITD)
Courses in this area use writing to communicate disciplinary knowledge. Develop writing strategies to explore and pursue new ideas or research questions and produce discipline-specific forms. Draft, revise, and edit work with peer and instructor feedback.

Wellbeing (1) 

Courses in this area allow students to learn and practice strategies for enhanced health, happiness, and functioning across the lifespan. Students choose from courses exploring multiple dimensions of wellbeing (e.g., emotional, relational, physical, financial, intellectual, environmental, vocational, career, spiritual) and explore how at least two dimensions of wellbeing intersect. 

January Term (2) 

The mission of the January Term interim period (JAN) is to provide ways for faculty and students to take advantage of this short term’s unique qualities in developing courses and other learning opportunities that enrich and expand upon the College’s regular semester curricular offerings. The institutional mission of the College calls for balancing educational tradition with innovation; study within a general framework that is interdisciplinary and international in perspective; and preparation of students to lead lives of leadership and service. The goals of January Term are consistent with this larger institutional mission. JAN will provide opportunities for learning both on campus and off campus through: 

1. International and domestic study away courses 
2. Career exploration and vocational reflection 
3. Courses that may satisfy either general education or major requirements
4. Independent studies and student/faculty collaborative research and creativity 
5. Institutional exchanges with other 4-1-4 colleges 
6. Special opportunities for students to continue their transition to college life and the greater expectations placed on adult learners 

Note: The provisions of the Gustavus academic bulletin are not an irrevocable contract between the student and the College. The College reserves the right to change any provision or requirement at any time during the student's term of residence.