Broad and Integrative Knowledge

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U.S. higher education is distinctive in its emphasis on students’ broad learning across the humanities, arts, sciences and social sciences, and the DQP builds on that commitment to liberal and general education in postsecondary learning. However, the DQP further invites students to integrate their broad learning by exploring, connecting and applying concepts and methods across multiple fields of study to complex questions — in the student’s areas of specialization, in work or other field-based settings and in the wider society. While many institutions of higher education and most state requirements relegate general knowledge to the first two years of undergraduate work and present it in isolated blocks, the DQP takes the position that broad and integrative knowledge, at all degree levels, should build larger, cumulative contexts for students’ specialized and applied learning and for their engagement with civic, intercultural, global and scientific issues throughout their academic careers and beyond.

At the associate level, the student

  • Describes how existing knowledge or practice is advanced, tested and revised in each core field studied — e.g., disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts.
  • Describes a key debate or problem relevant to each core field studied, explains the significance of the debate or problem to the wider society and shows how concepts from the core field can be used to address the selected debates or problems.
  • Uses recognized methods of each core field studied, including the gathering and evaluation of evidence, in the execution of analytical, practical or creative tasks.
  • Describes and evaluates the ways in which at least two fields of study define, address and interpret the importance for society of a problem in science, the arts, society, human services, economic life or technology.

At the bachelor’s level, the student

  • Describes and evaluates the ways in which at least two fields of study define, address, and interpret the importance for society of a problem in science, the arts, society, human services, economic life or technology. Explains how the methods of inquiry in these fields can address the challenge and proposes an approach to the problem that draws on these fields.
  • Produces an investigative, creative or practical work that draws on specific theories, tools and methods from at least two core fields of study.
  • Defines and frames a problem important to the major field of study, justifies the significance of the challenge or problem in a wider societal context, explains how methods from the primary field of study and one or more core fields of study can be used to address the problem, and develops an approach that draws on both the major and core fields.

At the master’s level, the student

  • Articulates how the field of study has developed in relation to other major domains of inquiry and practice.
  • Designs and executes an applied, investigative or creative work that draws on the perspectives and methods of other fields of study and assesses the resulting advantages and challenges of including these perspectives and methods.
  • Articulates and defends the significance and implications of the work in the primary field of study in terms of challenges and trends in a social or global context.