Category I, Western Cultures and Traditions
Courses in this category introduce students to an area of academic inquiry traditionally perceived to be central to general education. They stress concepts, values, and events in Western history that have shaped contemporary American and European civilization. Courses are distinguished by their historical sweep, which allows students to become aware of the continuing legacies of the past in contemporary culture. Students learn to situate contemporary society in a broad historical context and to think critically about the past and its relationship to the present, while becoming acquainted with the most significant analytic methods by which we attempt to understand the meaning of history. Comparative insights may also be offered with the non-Western cultural traditions studied in Category II. For additional enrollment information, see the Schedule of Classes.
Category II, Global Cultures and Traditions
Courses in this category introduce students to cultures and civilizations associated with Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Native America, and Russia. Each course examines the distinctive qualities of the cultures studied and seeks to engage and explain those characteristics on their own terms. Students learn to understand the impact of historical development on cultures that interact in the contemporary geopolitical scene and to articulate the role that cultural differences play in those interactions. As a result, they are better prepared to participate actively in an increasingly global cultural and political landscape. Courses in this category are distinguished by their breadth of perspective over a substantial period of time. Comparative insights may also be offered between these cultures and those studied in Category I.
Category III, Scientific Inquiry
In this category, students learn about the process and methods of scientific inquiry, examining the fundamental principles underlying a body of scientific knowledge and how those principles were developed. Students learn to evaluate the soundness of scientific arguments and appreciate how current ideas might change in response to new data. Students engage in scientific inquiry through field experiences or a practical component. A section of laboratory or field experience is required. As a result, all students should acquire substantive knowledge in science and technology; understand the processes by which scientists investigate and answer scientific questions; and be able to articulate the basic principles used to explain natural phenomena. For additional enrollment information, see the Schedule of Classes.
Category IV, Science and Its Significance
These courses focus on a particular area of research using perspectives from several scientific disciplines and demonstrating connections among scientific principles, their technological applications, and social consequences. A lab or field experience is required. For additional enrollment information, see the Schedule of Classes.
Category V, Arts and Letters (ARLT)
These courses aim at depth of knowledge and development of students' interpretive skills through intellectual engagement with major works of philosophy, literature, art, film, or music. Arts and Letters 100g classes are writing-intensive and limited to thirty students, primarily freshmen and sophomores, to promote direct interaction between students and faculty. Arts and Letters 101g classes are also writing-intensive, but are limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors. For additional enrollment information, see the Schedule of Classes.
For registration information about Arts and Letters courses, please visit dornsife.usc.edu/arlt.
Category VI, Social Issues (SI)
These courses focus on the analysis of local, national, and international problems and students development of the analytical and critical skills necessary for understanding a broad range of social questions. Students co-register in linked sections of the Writing Program and attend an evening lecture series on social issues. The goals of the linkage are to convey the idea that writing is an integral part of learning and thinking, and to provide a broad-based, shared experience for entering students. For additional enrollment information, see the Schedule of Classes.