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Washington and Lee University    
 
    
 
  Jul 28, 2017
 
2009-2010 University Catalog archived

General Education (GE) Requirements


Required for all undergraduate degree candidates who entered prior to Fall 2007.

The goals of a liberal arts education include both breadth of knowledge (general education) and competency in a specialized discipline or field of knowledge (the major). The general education component seeks to expose students to various modes of thought and to the variety of ideas and values in today’s world. Students need to demonstrate particular proficiencies to assure their general education and have a reasonable degree of choice in making course selections to meet these requirements. Requirements can be satisfied either by W&L course work, by students’ placement examinations, or by transfer credit approved by the faculty. No single course may satisfy more than one general education requirement.

The requirements are:

English Composition (GE1)

Students will receive extensive practice in critical reading and writing; be introduced to conventions governing appropriateness and persuasiveness in writing; learn the conventions of standard English; learn to choose words more precisely; write clearer sentences and more effective paragraphs; argue a workable thesis; use an effective voice and integrate the work of others into their own work properly; and, overall, learn to increase precision, fluency and confidence with written language.

The English department will assess the proficiency of entering students by a placement examination. The most proficient will be exempt from the composition requirement. Others may demonstrate their proficiency by completing successfully either English 101 or 105.

Foreign Language (GE2)

Students will acquire oral and written skills in at least one foreign language; begin to define the differences between their own culture and a foreign culture; acquire basic tools that will provide access to broader cultural knowledge; and gain a deeper and more thorough knowledge of their own language and culture.

Entering students who demonstrate, on placement tests administered by the language departments or through transfer or advanced placement credit, that they are qualified to enter third-year language courses have met this foreign language requirement. Native speakers of a language other than English who wish to be exempted from this requirement may present to the appropriate W&L language department or the Committee on Courses and Degrees evidence of their ability. All others may meet it by completing satisfactorily one of the following courses—Chinese 262, French 162 or 172, German 262 or 263, Greek 202, Italian 162, 163, Japanese 262, Latin 202, Portuguese 163, Russian 262 or 263, or Spanish 162 or 164.

Literature (GE3)

Students will acquire knowledge about the cultural context of literature; learn to analyze complex, ambiguous and difficult language; learn to read with imagination and to respond to literature orally and in writing; learn new ways of thinking about literature; and acquire an aesthetic interest to pursue in later life.

To meet this requirement a student must take two courses (six credits of work) from among the following:

  1. Chinese—312, 400-level courses if the subject matter is literary
  2. Classics 201, 203, 204, 208, 215, 300
  3. English—all 200- and 300-level courses except 201, 203, 204, 205, 307, 308, 309, 311, 385, 386, 387, and 388
  4. French 273, 274, 331, 332, 341, 342, 343, 344, 397
  5. German—all 300-level courses except 301, 302, 303, 304, 311, 312, 321, 325, and 332. German 321 is acceptable if the subject is literary.
  6. Greek—all 300-level courses, except Greek 302
  7. Italian—400-level courses if the subject matter is literary
  8. Japanese—312 and 400-level courses if the subject matter is literary
  9. Latin— all 300-level courses
  10. Latin American and Caribbean Studies 256, 257
  11. Literature in Translation—all courses
  12. Medieval and Renaissance Studies 110A
  13. Religion 272
  14. Russian 315, 316
  15. Spanish 220, 240 and all 300-level courses except 392

Fine Arts, History, Philosophy, and Religion (GE4)

A student must take at least 12 credits and must include courses from at least two of the following four areas. Poverty and Human Capability Studies 101, 103; Romance Languages 285 and Women’s and Gender Studies 120 will meet the requirement for credits but will not meet the requirement for two areas.

  1. Fine Arts—Students acquire historical knowledge about artistic, musical and theatrical traditions; are introduced to works representative of both historical and contemporary traditions; gain practical experience in the creative, musical and theatrical arts; acquire skills in using words, concepts and methods to analyze past and contemporary art, music and theater; and learn ways to express personal creativity and employ their imaginations.

    Art—all courses below the 400 level except Art History 395 and Studio Art 327, 328, 329, 396
    Classics 200, 287, 288
    Dance 120, 130, 215, 220, 240, 330, 340
    English 203, 204, 205, 307, 308, 309
    Medieval and Renaissance Studies 110
    Music—all courses below the 400 level except 101, 108 through 117, 195, 361, 362, and the applied music courses
    Theater—all courses below the 400 level except Theater 109, 209, 309, 397
     
  2. History—Students will acquire knowledge about the past; learn to read texts critically; acquire an appreciation of the importance of evidence in reaching conclusions; acquire an appreciation for the historical approach to understanding the present; and improve his or her writing style and learn to write a historical essay.

    African-American Studies 130
    Classics 224
    History—all courses below the 400 level except History 190, 234, 238 and 322
     
  3. Philosophy—Students will acquire knowledge about political and ethical theory or about fundamental questions in metaphysics or epistemology; develop the ability to scrutinize their unquestioned assumptions about reality, the right and the good, and the sort of life they ought to live; acquire knowledge about the history of philosophy; acquire insight into disparate positions taken by well-known thinkers of our past; and develop abstract reasoning skills and ability to identify faulty reasoning and make sound arguments.

    Classics 221
    Greek 302
    Interdepartmental 341, 342
    Philosophy—all courses below the 400 level
     
  4. Religion—Students will learn about one or more of the historic or living religious traditions; the thought, beliefs, institutions, worship, ethical implications of such traditions; and their interaction with other social and cultural forms, including other religious traditions; learn about one or more methods used in religious studies (e.g., historical, sociological, comparative, theological, philosophical, anthropological, hermeneutical, textual); and learn to think about religious ways of life tolerantly, sympathetically and yet critically.

    Anthropology 224, 285
    Religion—all courses below the 400 level except 200, 222, 272, 299, and 399
    Sociology 221

Science and Mathematics (GE5)

A student is required to complete 10 credits in science and mathematics, including at least four credits of laboratory science from requirement “5a” and a course chosen from requirement “5b” below:

  1. Laboratory Science Courses—Students will understand the methods that scientists employ in seeking to understand the natural world; gain an appreciation for the character of the evidence used in science and the methods used to gather and interpret data; obtain a basic  understanding of the language and procedures involved in at least one of the natural sciences; learn how to make and interpret observations of natural phenomena; and acquire a better understanding of the operation of natural processes and phenomena.

    Biology 101, 105, 111/113, 120, 230
    Chemistry 100, 106, 111, 120
    Geology 100, 101
    Physics 111/113, 112/114, 133, 150, 151
     
  2. Mathematics and Computer Science—Students will gain experience modeling real-world problems in the precise languages of mathematics or computer science; acquire problem-solving skills and strategies for obtaining mathematical or computer solutions for a variety of problems; achieve an understanding of how theoreticalresults and concepts can be developed and then used for problem solving or for further investigation; gain appreciation of how complex systems are formed from simpler systems; and develop understanding of criteria such as efficiency and elegance by which alternate solutions to problems might be compared.

    Computer Science 101, 111, 121
    Mathematics 101, 121
     
  3. Additional courses in mathematics or science:

    Any of the courses listed above not used to meet requirement “5a” or “5b.”

    Biology 231, 235, 240, 240S, 246
    Chemistry 112, 133, 155, 191, 195, 196
    Computer Science 102, 112, 196, 250, 251
    Engineering 101, 160
    Geology 104, 141, 144, 150, 155, 195, 197, 205, 247
    Mathematics 102, 118, 122, 171, 195
    Physics 115, 120,


Social Sciences (GE6)

Students will acquire knowledge about human beings and their economic, political and social institutions; become familiar with the analytical skills employed in any one of these disciplines; and acquire knowledge useful in discussing and evaluating anthropological, economic, political, psychological and sociological issues. A student must take at least nine credits and must include courses from at least two of the following four areas. Environmental Studies 110 will meet the requirement for credits but will not meet the requirement for two areas.
 

  1. Economics 101, 102, 195
  2. Politics 100, 105, 111, 203, 214, 215, 240, 247, 279, 280, 282, 290, 292, 333, 350, 381
  3. Psychology 111, 112, 113, 114 (Sociology 114), 120, 150, 213, 214, 240, 296 
  4. Anthropology 101, 205, 207, 210, 230, 238 (History 238), 252, 255, 260; Classics 238; Religion 222; Sociology 102, 200 (Religion 200), 202, 222, 225, 245 (Politics 245), 246 (Politics 246), Sociology 272 (Politics 272), 289


Physical Education (GE7)

Students will improve physical fitness and dexterity; develop skills in various sports and activities; and acquire knowledge or skills useful in the pursuit of physical fitness and recreation after college. A student is required to pass a proficiency test in swimming and to complete five terms of physical education activity classes selected from Physical Education 101 through 215. (See Physical Education  for additional information.)



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