Undergraduate Catalog 2021-22 
    
    Jan 21, 2022  
Undergraduate Catalog 2021-22

Connections General Education Program


Print a Connections General Education Program Planner  

 

To graduate from Castleton University, all students must complete the requirements of their major and satisfy the university's General Education requirements.

The Components of the Connections General Education Program 

Transferable Skills

The Areas of Understanding

Connections Seminars and Soundings 

Associate's Degree Requirements

Bachelor's Degree Requirements 
 

 


The Components of the Connections General Education Program


2021-2022 is the inaugural year of Castleton's new Connections General Education program. The University faculty designed this program to reflect what it means to be a Castleton student. In addition to in-depth study in their major, every Castleton student will develop transferable academic skills and gain a breadth of experience in a range of intellectual disciplines. Significantly, a sequence of Connections Seminar courses will help students to integrate knowledge and insights from their varied academic and co-curricular experiences at Castleton.

Castleton's Connections General Education program aims to prepare every student to search for the meaning of a good life; to develop an awareness of the interaction between personal and societal values; to foster an appreciation of the interconnectedness of all things; to stimulate intellectual curiosity; and to promote life-long learning.

The Connections General Education program:

1.) encourages students to make connections throughout academic courses, cultural events, and co-curricular activities;
2.) engages students in a wide-range of disciplines, leading to adaptable and flexible thinking;
3.) teaches students to search for, critically appraise, and implement knowledge;
4.) prepares students to convey ideas through multiple means of expression;
5.) primes students to value different perspectives and cultures;
6.) promotes students to be engaged as active citizens on campus and beyond;
7.) stimulates intellectual curiosity, preparing students to be life-long learners.

To engage in meaningful and productive study, the student should develop and learn to apply a variety of skills, including reading, writing, public speaking, critical thinking, library research, and practical computing. The courses listed under the Connections General Education requirements are designed to help students develop these and other skills and are required of all Castleton students. In addition to providing a common educational experience, these courses prepare the student for subsequent coursework at Castleton and for life beyond the university.

The components of the Connections General Education Program are: 
 

Written Expression

Oral Communication 

Digital and Computing Literacy

The Areas of Understanding

Connections Seminars and Soundings

 

Transferable Skills

Written Expression

In order to graduate from Castleton, all students must pass the university writing assessment, which consists of ENG 1061 - English Composition, writing- intensive courses, and the writing assessment folder.

-ENG 1061 should be taken within the student's first year.

-Students pursuing a Bachelor's Degree must pass two writing-intensive courses, while students pursuing an Associate's Degree must pass one writing-intensive course. Students who transfer in a "pass" at the Associate's level for Writing Standards from another VSC College will be required to successfully complete one additional writing-intensive course.

-The writing assessment folder contains recommendations for improvement noted by readers of the timed essay from the student's first writing-intensive course as well as the student's culminating essay. Essays in the writing assessment folder will be evaluated according to the University's Writing Standards. Students will sit for the culminating essay, offered each semester, during a special session scheduled near the conclusion of their final required writing- intensive course. The student's culminating essay is reviewed by a university committee, which determines whether the essay earns a "pass," "no pass," or "pass with distinction." Students whose essays receive a "no pass" are encouraged to complete another writing-intensive course, near the end of which they will be afforded the opportunity to compose another culminating essay. Those who elect not to complete an additional writing-intensive course are responsible for registering for the culminating essay

For a complete description of the process through which students fulfill Castleton's writing standard, see A Guide to the Castleton Writing Standards.

Oral Communication

Students must demonstrate that they have met the university's Oral Communication standard to graduate. They accomplish this by passing ENG 1070 - Effective Speaking and by receiving a passing grade on the Speaking -ntensive (SI) component of an additional course. If a student is unable to receive a passing grade for the SI component after taking two courses that include the SI designation, they must take a 1-credit Supplemental Speaking course. The student will then be required to present before a group comprised of at least two faculty or other individuals qualified to evaluate the student's oral communication skills and a small group of volunteers drawn from the university population at large.

Digital and Computing Literacy 

Students will learn a sufficient level of computing knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the current academic and professional worlds. To meet this goal, students must complete a Digital and Computing Literacy  course.

 

The Areas of Understanding

All students must complete a specified number of credits in each of the five Areas of Understanding. These five areas are an introduction to the variety of ways that human beings understand and explore their world and themselves. The requirements provide a starting point for further exploration of the category of human knowledge and ways of knowing represented by the area and may be satisfied by courses in a number of different fields of study. Students are encouraged to experiment by taking courses in academic disciplines with which they are unfamiliar.

Taken together, the Areas of Understanding provide a balance to the concentrated focus of the major by placing the student's university experience within the wider context of an intellectual heritage shared by all human beings. In addition, the areas make students aware that many academic disciplines, both within and across areas, share common concerns and themes, and that the apparent diversity of disciplines is not a cacophony of voices, but a chorus.

All students must complete a specified number of courses in each of the five Areas of Understanding. To encourage a wide breadth of disciplinary experiences, students may not take more than one course with the same prefix for credit throughout the entire Areas of Understanding. 

 

The five Areas of Understanding are:

Arts and Aesthetics    - This area of study is concerned with the forms of human expression, the value of aesthetic activities, artifacts, and experiences, and the contributions of the arts and language to human life and culture.

Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the principles and elements used in the art form under study.
  • Demonstrate the ability to develop ideas and opinions about forms of human expression that are grounded in an understanding of and respect for the historical context of expressions and artifacts.
  • Demonstrate the ability to create or reinterpret artistic works through the development of skills of performance or skills of analysis and criticism.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the contributions of the arts to social change, thought, and/or wellbeing, whether individual or collective.

Humanistic Perspectives   - This area of study is concerned with understanding of the self in the larger contexts of the individual's own and other cultures as presented by the study of history, geography, language, philosophy, ethics, and anthropology.

Students will be able to:

  • Analyze diverse primary texts, and/or forms of thinking from a variety of eras in order to explain changing perspectives on human expression and thinking.
  • Apply methodologies appropriate for the course's discipline in order to articulate meaning and interpretation of content in a way that honors diverse ways of knowing.
  • Describe how moral and ethical issues and theories pertain to personal identity and society more broadly.

Mathematics   - This area of study is concerned with numerical ways of knowing, including such disciplines as mathematics, logic, and critical thinking.

Students will be able to:

  • Use mathematical reasoning to solve problems in a variety of contexts and determine whether their solutions are reasonable and sound.
  • Represent and communicate mathematical information symbolically, visually, and numerically.
  • Explain the logical reasoning behind their mathematical decisions.
  • Articulate the importance and limitations of using quantitative data and/or statistical methods in decision making.

Natural Science    - This area of study is concerned with empirical ways of knowing, pertaining to such topics as nature, the universe, and the human body.

Students will:

  • Learn and apply the problem-solving methods of a scientific discipline.
  • Gather and interpret data using established scientific techniques.
  • Assess the accuracy and validity of scientific data and information sources.
  • Contextualize the role of science in real-world applications.

Social Science   - This area of study is concerned with the issues and principles involved in understanding human behavior and personality, social life and institutions, economics, and politics.

Students will be able to:

  • Use theories and conceptual frameworks of the social sciences to describe influences on individuals and communities over time.
  • Explore the relationship between the individual and society as it affects personal behavior, social development, and individuals' lives.
  • Recognize and explain the social institutions, structures, and processes of global cultures and diverse societies.
  • Articulate the impact of behavioral and/or social scientific research on major contemporary issues.
  • Understand methods used to gather and analyze data and draw sound conclusions from social and/or behavioral research in an ethical manner.


 

Connections Seminars and Soundings 

Castleton's Connections General Education program includes a sequence of three innovative Connections Seminar courses, all of which are designed to help students to integrate their learning from academic courses, cultural events and their co-curricular activities. Course descriptions for each of these seminars appear below.  In addition to other learning objectives in the seminars, every Castleton student will develop and curate a "Connections Portfolio" to show they have achieved the university's General Education learning goals.

Students who attend the University in a traditional four-year sequence will likely take one of the Connections Seminars in each of their first three years. Although transfer students may be exempt from the first two Seminars based on credits previously earned, they must take the culminating Connections Seminar 3 course and complete the Connections Portfolio to graduate with a Bachelor's degree from Castleton University.

Connections Seminar 1: Creating Connections

Students who graduated from high school within the year prior to matriculating at Castleton are required to take Connections Seminar 1 in their first semester.  (Exceptions may be made for students who participated in a full-time early college program.) Transfer students with fewer than 15 credits are required to take Connections Seminar 1 in their first semester and those with 15-29 credits are strongly encouraged to take Connections Seminar 1.

These seminars are specially-designed courses in a variety of academic fields that emphasize the development of academic skills and personal well-being and help integrate the student into the university community. Connection Seminar 1 assists new students with the transition to university life by providing opportunities for academic, social, and personal development. In this seminar, students get to explore the richness of the liberal arts experience through the Soundings program. Students also establish their electronic "Connections Portfolio" to reflect on their learning.

Students' Connections Seminar 1 instructors serve as their academic advisors during their first year at Castleton. Students are also supported by their SOS (Student Orientation Staff), experienced Castleton students who work closely with each Connections Seminar 1 class. The SOS and the Seminar instructor introduce students to campus resources and individuals who can provide support. Students will complete Connections Seminar 1 as responsible and confident members of the Castleton community who ready for the exciting challenges ahead.

Students in Connections Seminar 1 are simultaneously enrolled in Soundings (CNX-SND).
 

Connections Seminar 2: Critical Connections (CNX-2010)

This course is a reading and writing-intensive seminar intended to extend and deepen students' engagement with Castleton's general education curriculum.  Students critically engage, discuss, and write about important ideas and issues in readings from the five Areas of Understanding as well as the Soundings events they attend.  Students continue to explore the connections between the main components of their undergraduate education - their major, the general education program, and co-curricular activities - as they continue to curate their Connections Portfolio demonstrating their engagement with the Connections General Education program learning goals. 

Connections Seminar 2 includes a Writing-Intensive component (CNX-2710 WI).

Prerequisites: Connections Seminar 1, ENG 1061 - English Composition   and Sophomore standing.

Corequisite: Soundings (CNX-SND)

Transfer students with more than 60 credits may be exempt from Connections Seminar 2.

Connections Seminar 3: Culminating Connections (CNX-3010)

This seminar is the culminating experience in the Connections program. This course focuses on the curation of the electronic Connections Portfolio. Students will continue to attend Soundings events and reflect on how Soundings and their learning in the Areas of Understanding have impacted their Castleton liberal arts education. Students will demonstrate their information literacy through documented research practices included in the Connections Portfolio.

The Connections Portfolio contains both direct and indirect evidence of the student's achievement of the General Education learning goals. The direct evidence will include "artifacts" (essays, projects, documentation of presentations) from the student's experience in the Connections program as well as from their other academic and co-curricular activities. The portfolio will also include the student's reflections and self-assessment of how they have achieved each of the learning goals. These reflections may include benchmark self-evaluations from the Connections Seminar 1 as well as an overall culminating essay written in Connections Seminar 3. The successfully completed Connections Portfolio is a requirement to graduate from Castleton University with a Bachelor's degree.

Students may complete Connections Seminar 3 in conjunction with another designated course or as a stand-alone 1-credit course.

Prerequisites: Connections Seminar 2 and a minimum of 60 credits.

Corequisite: Soundings (CNX-SND)

Soundings

Soundings: An Introduction to the Liberal Arts is an award-winning program with a long history at Castleton. Originally a nautical term, Soundings refers to the exploratory measurement of depth. This spirit of exploration lives on at Castleton through the Soundings program, which brings cultural and intellectual events to campus, introducing students to the richness and vitality of the liberal arts experience through lectures, plays, films, recitals, poetry readings, performances, and other activities, including presenter workshops.  

Students in each Connections Seminar are simultaneously enrolled in Soundings. They must attend and reflect on at least four Soundings events over the course of the semester. Soundings offers an important opportunity for making connections beyond the classroom and regular coursework. It helps set the foundation for a lifetime of cultural and intellectual engagement.  Successfully completing reflections on a total of twelve Soundings events over the course of completing three sections of Soundings through Connections seminars is a graduation requirement.  

Soundings events are not limited to students enrolled in the Connections Seminars. Indeed, the events provide a place for the entire Castleton community to gather and enjoy the cultural and intellectual life of the university.

Associate's Degree Requirements

(Transfer students may be exempt from some General Education requirements; see "Transfer Policies for Newly Admitted Students" under Admissions Policies )

Transferable Skills

Written Expression - Complete ENG 1061 - English Composition   and 1 Writing-Intensive (WI) course.

Oral Communication - Complete ENG 1070 - Effective Speaking .

Digital and Computing Literacy - Complete a Digital and Computing Literacy  course.

Areas of Understanding - Complete the required credits in each area of understanding. The same subject pre-fix cannot be used more than once throughout the Areas of Understanding.

Arts and Aesthetics   - 3cr

Humanistic Perspectives    - 3cr

Mathematics    - 3cr

Natural Science   - 3cr

Social Science   - 3cr

Connections Seminar 1 - Students who graduated from high school within the year prior to matriculating at Castleton are required to take Connections Seminar 1 in their first semester. Transfer students with fewer than 15 credits are required to take Connections Seminar 1 in their first semester and those with 15-29 credits are strongly encouraged to take Connections Seminar 1.  (Students need to complete reflections on 4 Soundings events (CNX SND  ).)

Note: In many cases the Connections Seminar 1 and Writing-Intensive courses will also satisfy the Areas of Understanding, major, or minor requirements.

Minimum Total Credits Required for an Associate's Degree: 60 cr

In order to graduate, a student must attain an overall GPA of 2.0 in courses taken at Castleton.

 

Bachelor's Degree Requirements

(Transfer students may be exempt from some General Education requirements; see "Transfer Policies for Newly Admitted Students" under Admissions Policies )

Transferable Skills

Written Expression  - Complete ENG 1061 - English Composition   and 2 Writing-Intensive (WI) courses and earn a "Pass" on the Writing Assessment Folder, which includes the culminating essay.

Oral Communication - Pass ENG 1070 - Effective Speaking   and the SI component of an additional course.

Digital and Computing Literacy - Complete a Digital and Computing Literacy  course. 

Areas of Understanding

Complete the required credits in each area of understanding. The same subject pre-fix cannot be used more than once throughout the Areas of Understanding.

 

 

 

 

 

Note: A course may be used to satisfy only one Area of Understanding. In many cases, the Connections Seminar 1 course or the Writing, Speaking, or Computing-Intensive courses will also satisfy the Areas of Understanding, General Education Ed, major, or minor requirements.

Note: Each Area of Understanding requires students to complete courses in more than one subject (in other words, different course prefixes are required).  For example, student cannot use two art ("ART") classes to complete the Arts and Aesthetics area.

 

Connections Seminars

CNX SEM: Connections Seminar I: Creating Connections

CNX 2010 - Connections Seminar 2: Critical Connections   

CNX 3010 - Connections Seminar 3: Culminating Connections   

Students who graduated from high school within the year prior to matriculating at Castleton are required to take Connections Seminar 1 in their first semester. Transfer students with fewer than 15 credits are required to take Connections Seminar 1 in their first semester and those with 15-29 credits are strongly encouraged to take Connections Seminar 1.

Transfer students with 30-59 credits are required to take Connections Seminar 2 and two sections of Soundings (CNX SND) .

Transfer students with 60 or more credits are required to take CNX 3010 - Connections Seminar 3: Culminating Connections   and to successfully complete the Connections Portfolio and one section of Soundings CNX SND .

Minimum Total Credits Required for a Bachelor's Degree: 120 cr.  (To complete a bachelor's degree in four years, students must successfully complete an average of 15 credits per semester.)

In order to graduate, a student must attain an overall GPA of 2.0 in courses taken at Castleton.