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Butler University Bulletin

The Core Curriculum

Butler University is home to six colleges, all of which believe that the University’s first responsibility is the liberal education of its students. At the heart of Butler’s undergraduate education is the University’s Core Curriculum, a set of academic requirements embodying our definition of what it means to be a liberally educated person. Introduced in 1945, the Core Curriculum is one of Butler’s oldest academic entities. Like all good ideas, the Core has not remained static but has expanded to meet the needs of a changing society. Today’s Core Curriculum, implemented in fall 2010, emphasizes the development of key skills that transfer directly into careers after graduation. Employers are seeking flexible, creative, and critical thinkers who can demonstrate competencies in strong written and oral communication, information fluency, intercultural awareness, and analytical and ethical reasoning skills. Through direct experience working in the Indianapolis community, study-abroad opportunities, and rich cocultural experiences in the Core Curriculum, Butler students also engage central issues of our increasingly globalized world, including diversity, personal and social responsibility, and social justice. In these varied ways, the Core Curriculum provides Butler students with transformative learning experiences that prepare graduates to make a meaningful impact on the world.

The Core Curriculum is required for all baccalaureate and associate degrees. All Butler undergraduates, no matter their major field of study, complete the Core Curriculum. Core Curriculum courses are not open to graduate students. Students are expected to consult with their academic advisor prior to registration each semester to plan their experiences in the Core Curriculum. More information.

Core Curriculum Structure

The Core Curriculum consists of several key components, all of which must be fulfilled prior to graduation: 

  • The First-Year Seminar (6 credit hours)
  • Global and Historical Studies (6 credit hours)
  • Areas of Inquiry: Successful completion of one course in each Area of Inquiry. Students select courses each semester from approved course lists in the online Course Search utility using the appropriate course attribute.

The six Areas of Inquiry are:

To ensure academic quality and integrity, some Core Curriculum requirements may be satisfied by taking courses only at Butler University. Other Core Curriculum requirements have provisions that allow for completion via transfer credit, AP, IB, or other exemptions. For details, see www.butler.edu/registrar.

Additional Graduation Requirements

Students also must fulfill these three graduation requirements, also identified in the online Course Search utility by their respective course attributes:

First Year Seminar (FYS)

The First Year Seminar (FYS101 and FYS102) is a topics-based, two-semester sequenced course that serves as an introduction to the vitality of the liberal arts. FYS101 is taken in the fall semester; FYS102 is taken in the spring semester. Students will develop, practice, and advance their abilities with critical reading and thinking, effective oral communication and academic writing, and information literacy.

Students assigned to EN101, Writing Tutorial, must enroll in EN101 during their first semester at Butler concurrently with FYS101. Some students also may be required to take EN101 concurrently with FYS102, contingent upon student performance in EN101 or FYS101. The English Department administers EN101, including placement tests.

Transfer students who have completed two semesters of 100-level English or other critical reading, thinking, and writing course work at another institution may be allowed to satisfy the FYS requirement with a total of not fewer than 6 transferred semester hours.

All students are expected to complete the First Year Seminar during their first year at Butler.

Course Structure: A two-semester sequence taken in the first year. FYS course titles and descriptions can be found through the online Course Search utility using the FYS course attribute.

Exemptions: None.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will learn to listen and read critically—texts, speech, media, and other cultural productions—in order to examine, challenge, and reshape themselves and the world in which they live.
  • Students will learn to express themselves clearly and persuasively in exposition and in argument, in both written and oral forms.
  • Students will carry out research for the purpose of supplying evidence and support for claims made in exposition and argument.

Global and Historical Studies (GHS)

Global and Historical Studies (GHS201–212) is an array of interdisciplinary courses that allow students to engage in investigation of and reflection about a culturally diverse and increasingly globalized world. Students will learn to employ a conceptual framework that appreciates cultures as dynamic, heterogeneous, and constantly in conversation with one another. In doing so, students will draw on a variety of sources and disciplines, including the arts, the humanities, and social and natural sciences, and they will continue to develop the skills of expository writing introduced in the First Year Seminar.

Course Structure: All students are required to complete two semesters of GHS201–212 (6 credit hours), ideally during their sophomore year. Students may not take both GHS203 and GHS209 to complete the GHS requirement, but any other combination of courses is allowed. Course titles and descriptions can be found through the online Course Search utility using the GHS course attribute.

Exemptions: One semester of GHS is automatically waived for international students. If a student studies abroad in a Butler-approved program and successfully completes 9 or more credit hours of course work while abroad, the student automatically receives a one-semester/3-credit-hour waiver from GHS. However, students are not allowed to receive two waivers for GHS; they must take at least one GHS course at Butler University. Exceptions require the approval of the faculty director of Global and Historical Studies.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Employ a conceptual framework for global and historical studies that appreciates cultures as dynamic, heterogeneous, and constantly in conversation with one another.
  • Draw on a variety of sources and disciplines—including the arts, the humanities, and the social and natural sciences.
  • Recognize both the benefits and challenges of living in a culturally diverse and increasingly globalized world.
  • Continue development of skills of expository writing.

Analytic Reasoning (AR)

Course Structure: A menu of 3-credit-hour courses to be taken from the first year onward.

Exemptions: Exempt for students who have completed at least 5 credit hours of mathematics or computer science courses above algebra and pre-calculus, and for students in professional colleges (COPHS or LSB) with college mathematics requirements. For AP/IB equivalencies, see www.butler.edu/registrar.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Develop capacities for quantitative and analytic reasoning.
  • Understand the centrality of these capacities to the natural and social sciences.
  • Recognize the applications of such capacities to matters of personal and public life.

The Natural World (NW)

Course Structure: A menu of 5-credit-hour lecture/lab courses to be taken from the first year onward. Courses not required of science majors.

Exemptions: Exempt for students who have completed at least 8 credit hours of laboratory science. For AP/IB equivalencies, see www.butler.edu/registrar.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Gain awareness of some significant scientific theories and achievements, and recognize how they are related both to other areas of science and to our understanding of broader societal issues.
  • Develop an understanding of the methods of natural science and a capacity to reason scientifically.
  • Experience first-hand the scientific process method through discovery-based learning.

Perspectives in the Creative Arts (PCA)

Course Structure: A menu of 3-credit-hour courses to be taken from the first year onward.

Exemptions: Exempt for students taking at least 9 credit hours in art, dance, theater, music, digital media production, recording industry studies, or creative writing.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Develop cognitive and affective appreciation for the process and products of artistic creation.
  • Participate actively in the creation of an artistic product.
  • Reflect on the nature and sources of aesthetic value.
  • Develop habits of participation in artistic and cultural events that will lead to lifelong engagement with the creative arts.

Physical Well-Being (PWB)

Course Structure: A 1-credit-hour, two-contact-hour, pass/fail course selected from a menu of courses devoted to physical and health education and activities taken from the first year onward.

Exemptions: Exempt for students who have fulfilled three credits of activity-based and wellness courses, including specific DA and PE courses. Contact the Core Curriculum office for details or see www.butler.edu/core.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Develop lifelong habits of good health and physical activity.
  • Increase awareness of the centrality of health and wellness for the pursuit of a good life.

The Social World (SW)

Course Structure: A menu of 3-credit-hour courses to be taken from the first year onward.

Exemptions: Exempt for students taking at least 9 credit hours in the social sciences, including anthropology; communication sciences and disorders; critical communication and media studies; economics; human communication and organizational leadership; international studies; journalism; political science; psychology; science, technology, and society; sociology; strategic communication; or majors in the College of Education. For AP/IB equivalencies, see www.butler.edu/registrar.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Study selected questions about human beings and the social, cultural, economic, and political world in which they are embedded.
  • Develop an understanding of the variety of quantitative and qualitative research methods social scientists use to study the social world.
  • Develop the ability to discern the social, scientific, and ethical dimensions of issues in the social world, and to understand the interaction between a society’s values and its definition of social problems.

Texts and Ideas (TI)

Course Structure: A menu of 3-credit-hour courses to be taken from the first year onward.

Exemptions: Exempt for students taking at least 9 credit hours in humanities courses, including most English, history, philosophy, and religion courses, as well as literature courses taught in classical and modern languages. For AP/IB equivalencies, see www.butler.edu/registrar.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Engage in reading, writing, and discussion about important ideas drawn from the study of important texts in a variety of areas, including, among others, texts that represent literary, dramatic, sacred, historical, philosophical, and scientific genres.
  • Develop capacities for argument, interpretation, and aesthetic appreciation through engagement with these texts and ideas.

Indianapolis Community Requirement (ICR)

The Indianapolis Community Requirement is a civic-learning component of the Core Curriculum that enhances academic learning while helping students become active citizens of their communities and of the world. The ICR immerses students in a wide range of innovative learning experiences that extend Butler classrooms into the Indianapolis community—to the benefit of students, the University, and the community alike. ICR courses can accelerate the process whereby students master the skills of their respective disciplines, enhance their understanding of civic-mindedness and social justice, and provide opportunities to develop intercultural competencies. Where volunteers may donate time to a project, the ICR is based on connecting experience outside of the Butler classroom to academic learning goals within the classroom. Courses meeting the ICR can be found in the online Course Search utility each semester using the course attribute.

Requirement Structure: Students must take one course in any part of the University that involves active engagement with the Indianapolis community.

Exemptions: None

Learning Outcomes:

  • Have an active learning experience that integrates classroom knowledge with activities in the Indianapolis community.
  • Use an experience in Indianapolis to further the student’s understanding of the nature of community and the relationship between the student and community.
  • Further students’ commitment to service and ongoing involvement as community actors.

The ICR program is coordinated by the Center for Citizenship and Community.

Center for Citizenship and Community

Butler University’s Center for Citizenship and Community (CCC) facilitates civic engagement for Butler students, faculty, and staff. The CCC serves to create innovative academic learning experiences that extend Butler classrooms into the Indianapolis community—to the benefit of students, the University, and the community alike.

The Center’s activities include:

  • Bringing together community members and leaders with University faculty, students, and staff to address pressing community issues.
  • Coordinating the ICR and service-learning opportunities as they relate to University curricula.
  • Building courses and learning experiences that will help students develop the civic-mindedness that is foundational to becoming responsible citizens prepared to address future challenges.

For more information, contact Donald Braid, CCC Director, at 317-940-8353, or visit the CCC website.

Social Justice and Diversity Requirement (SJD)

Requirement Structure: Butler University was founded on the principles of diversity, equality, and inclusivity. The Social Justice and Diversity requirement reaffirms these founding principles. Students must take one course in any part of the University that exposes them to critical scholarship on the root causes of marginalization and inequity and how to counter it.

Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize multiple and intersecting dimensions of identity and inequity through the study of critical scholarship on the historical, cultural, political, and/or social experiences of marginalized communities.
  • Identify and explain the causes and impact of privilege, power, and oppression and cultivate tools for overcoming conflict and promoting equality.
  • Recognize and critique local, national, or global conditions that enable, perpetuate and/or challenge social injustice and inequity.

Exemptions: None. The Social Justice and Diversity Requirement is in effect for all students, including first-year and transfer students, entering Butler University during the fall 2020 semester.

Butler Cultural Requirement (BCR)

Butler University has a rich set of cultural activities in the form of artistic performances, seminars, and public lectures that collectively comprise one of our most remarkable educational resources. The aim of the Butler Cultural Requirement is to engage students in these most valuable and exciting learning opportunities, and to encourage students to develop habits of participation in artistic and cultural events that will lead to lifelong engagement with the creative arts and public intellectual life.

Requirement Structure: Students must attend a total of eight cultural events on the Butler campus, such as lectures, performances, recitals, or exhibitions. Events eligible for BCR credit carry the BCR symbol. Ideally, attendance will be spread out over students’ time at Butler, but this is not required. Transfer students must complete at least one BCR credit for each semester enrolled at Butler University.

Exemptions: None

Learning Outcomes:

  • Discover that some of the most valuable and exciting learning opportunities at Butler take place outside of the classroom.
  • Develop habits of participation in artistic and cultural events that will lead to lifelong engagement with the creative arts and public intellectual life.