GenEd Definitions

Breadth of Knowledge (BoK) Definitions

BoK designated courses should be introductory and also appropriate as a "complete" introduction to a field, one that could be the only course that students take in a particular discipline. These courses should be of general value and interest and might be ones that programs recommend to their students on a routine basis. Generally, they have few or no pre-requisites. The BoK designation is usually reserved for freshman (1000) and sophomore (2000) level courses. In a very few instances, programs may provide a BoK designation to a 3000 level course, although the above characteristics should apply.


Diversity and Culture (DC)

Analysis and understanding of issues arising from individual and cultural differences.


Social and Ethical Issues (SE)

Social/ethical reasoning from historical and contemporary perspectives.


Technology and Innovation (TI)

Analysis and understanding of technological trends, innovation and discovery processes, and related effects, opportunities and dangers.  A course or experience that fits this topic area might examine the social implications of technologies, relationships between invention and law, varied perspectives on technological change, and/or histories of technology. These courses should not be “how-to” courses that focus on applications of technologies.  The focus of such courses should be the analysis of the role and impact of technology and innovation in societies.


Quantitative Reasoning (QR)

A QR course should contain discussion, instruction, use (on the part of students), and assessment of one or more of the following:

  • Creation and interpretation of mathematical models (such as formulas, graphs, tables, and schematics) and inferences from such models
  • Representation of mathematical (quantitative) information symbolically, visually, numerically, and verbally
  • Problem solving using arithmetical, algebraic, geometric, logical, and/or statistical methods
  • Evaluation of solutions to mathematical problems (estimate, check answers, identify alternative, select optimal results, and recognize limits of the methods)

Quantitative reasoning skills must be a significant element of the course and the instructor should analyze student learning related to quantitative reasoning as part of the overall course assessment.


Fine Arts (FA)

Courses in this area help students understand and appreciate creative works and history of the arts. In addition, these courses aim to teach students to recognize the comprehensive role of arts as an expression of the cultural values of a society and the need to preserve these expressions for the benefit of future generations. Courses from the following disciplines are examples of this distribution area: dance, drama, music, and visual arts.


Historical Perspectives (HP)

Courses in this area should contain discussion, application, analysis, and/or evaluation of one or more of the following:

  • Primary and secondary historical artifacts
  • Applied historical methodologies to significant issues and/or debates
  • Current and historical debates about the study and presentation of historical issues

Historical analysis and research skills must be a significant element of the courses in this area.  Courses from the following disciplines are examples: history, classics, history of art and music, Africana studies, and Judaic studies.


Humanities and Literature (HU)

Courses in this area help students develop competency in the understanding of the human condition and of the values inherent in it. This understanding will help the development of insights into and a critical evaluation of the meaning of life. A course that fulfills the Humanities and Literature requirement should contain discussion, instruction, use, and assessment of one or more of the following:

  • Texts specific to the field which illustrate the subject of analysis. For example, a literature course should utilize literary texts such as novels, poetry, drama, etc. Similarly, a philosophy course that fulfills this requirement should include primary texts in the field.
  • Literary and/or Humanities methodologies applied (by students with instructor supervision) to significant issues and/or debates.
  • Current and historical debates about the study and presentation of humanities and/or literary issues and texts.

Reading, qualitative analysis specific to the discipline, and writing skills must be a significant element of the course, should contribute significantly to the course grade, and the instructor should analyze student learning related to humanities or literary perspectives and/or methodology as part of the overall course assessment. Courses from the following disciplines are examples of this distribution area:  classics, communication, English, foreign languages, linguistics, philosophy, rhetoric, and courses not included in the other distribution areas.


Natural Sciences (NS)

In a natural science course, students will learn fundamental scientific concepts and apply them to the natural world using quantitative and qualitative scientific methods. They will study one or more of the following:

  • How scientific principles and knowledge are applied to specific problems
  • The nature of scientific evidence
  • How scientific knowledge and evidence are obtained
  • How major principles, concepts, and models inform our understanding of the natural world
  • The interaction of society with the natural world

A natural science course must incorporate quantitative problem-solving or a broad, systematic conceptual survey drawn from the traditional physical or life sciences. Assessment of student learning should focus on this aspect of the course. At the conclusion of the course, students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of scientific concepts and methods.


Social Sciences (SS)

A social science course teaches an understanding of human behavior and the organization of human activities--at the individual, group, community, societal, and global levels--arrived at through the analysis of theory and the use of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Students study how major principles, concepts, and models of the social sciences enhance our understanding of the human experience; the nature of social science evidence and how it is collected; and how social science knowledge is applied to specific problems and issues facing individuals, families, communities, societies, and the world.

  • At the conclusion of the course, students should be able to demonstrate:
  • An understanding of the kinds of questions social scientists ask and the ways they go about answering these questions
  • Knowledge of the major principles, concepts, and models of at least one social sciences discipline
  • An understanding of methods social scientists use to examine human behavior


Baccalaureate Competencies

The Baccalaureate Competencies are the primary goals and desired outcomes to be achieved by all University of Cincinnati graduates. These goals and outcomes are pervasive components of all courses and experiences, and equip students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes for a full and productive life.

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking is the ability to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information and ideas from multiple perspectives.

The educated individual thinks critically and analytically about subjects. Critical thinking includes the capability for analysis, problem solving, logical argument, the application of scholarly and scientific methods, the accurate use of terminology, and information literacy. Particular critical thinking skills can vary from discipline to discipline.                                                                     

Effective Communication

Effective Communication

Effective Communication embraces oral, visual, and language arts, including the ability to read, write, speak, and listen; it is the effective use of various resources and technology for personal and professional communication.

The educated individual must be able to understand and convey ideas in diverse contexts, using appropriate communication and information technology resources and skills. Oral and visual communication proficiencies are demonstrated through the performance and graphic arts. Among important language capabilities are proper usage, appropriate style, and the ability to formulate a coherent, well-supported argument using language appropriate to academic and public discourse.

Knowledge Integration

Knowledge Integration

Knowledge Integration is the ability to fuse information and concepts from multiple disciplines for personal, professional, and civic enhancement.

A commitment to a life of thought and the ability to evaluate critically one's own views and those of others require that the individual be able to access, judge, and compare diverse fields of knowledge. The General Education Core promotes knowledge integration by encouraging courses and experiences that enable a student to discover connections between different disciplines and their real-life applications.

Social Responsibility

Social Responsibility

Social Responsibility is the ability to apply knowledge and skills gained through the undergraduate experience for the advancement of society.

Attention and service to the world at large is characteristic of a socially accountable, well-educated individual. One goal of the General Education Core is to introduce a student to historical ethical reasoning, ecological literacy, contemporary social, ethical, and sustainability issues, and to promote knowledge, skills, and attitudes that encourage responsible stewardship and civic engagement.


Information Literacy

Information Literacy

Information literacy is a fundamental component of the four Baccalaureate Competencies, and must permeate every component of the General Education Core.

Information literacy includes, but goes beyond, information technology skills. It is the ability to determine the nature of required information, to access it effectively and efficiently, to evaluate it critically, and to incorporate it into one's knowledge system. It necessitates the responsible, legal, and ethical use of information.