Jan 24, 2021  
2020-2021 Traditional Undergraduate Academic Catalog 
2020-2021 Traditional Undergraduate Academic Catalog

Interdisciplinary Studies

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I. College Skills

Taken together, the College Skills requirements ensure that all Lakeland students have secure and enhanced abilities in writing, reading, and mathematics—skills that are needed not only to succeed in college coursework, but also to remain in highest demand by employers. These skill-based requirements come in three types (Fundamental, Rhetorical, and Quantitative), and placement in or exemption from these courses is primarily determined by ACT scores. All College Skills courses, however, help students develop undergraduate-level capabilities, all of which enhance their powers of thinking, reasoning, and understanding, both inside and outside their majors.

A. Fundamental Skills (Workshops)

The Fundamental Skills requirements were designed to ensure that all Lakeland students possess the foundational abilities required for academic and professional success. Placement in these courses is determined primarily through ACT benchmarks:


No more than six semester hours of Fundamental Skills courses may be applied toward the completion of a Lakeland degree. All courses, however, contribute to a student’s full- or part-time status.

B. Rhetorical Skills

Lakeland’s written communication sequence develops and reinforces students’ capacity for writing clearly, coherently, and correctly, while enhancing students’ abilities to use writing as a tool for thinking and analysis. Lakeland’s Rhetorical Skills requirement includes the following:

C. Quantitative Skills

Lakeland students develop quantitative literacy through courses designed to establish basic mathematical and statistical reasoning, allowing students to think about their world and themselves through a numerical lens. To complete this requirement, students must earn an ACT mathematics score of 24 or above or pass one of the following courses:

II. Distributional Studies

As our mission statement indicates, Lakeland University and its curriculum are rooted deeply in the liberal arts tradition. At Lakeland, we believe a college education should not just prepare students for a specific job or field of study, but should encourage all students to explore the breadth of human achievement and inquiry. Lakeland’s Distributional Studies requirement facilitates that kind of exploration by leading students through areas of knowledge associated with the traditional liberal arts and exposing them to each area’s essential modes and methods of thought.

Taken together, these distinct disciplinary perspectives offer new ways of seeing and understanding the world. These “ways of seeing” help students to appreciate how culture and language, history and society, nature and numbers, art and ideas all interact in their lives—ultimately enhancing each student’s particular path of learning.

To complete this requirement, students must take at least three semester hours of coursework within any seven of the following eight categories. Although listed course prerequisites still apply, all courses with the parenthetical program designations are acceptable unless specifically excluded below:

Note: Distributional Studies requirements differ for Education majors.

  • Art, Music, and Theatre (ART, GDN, MUS, THE)
  • History and Political Science (HIS, POL)
  • Literature and Writing (ENG, WRT) - (Excluded courses: ENG 230 ; WRT 211 ; WRT 212 )
  • Mathematics (MAT) - (Excluded courses: MAT 130 ; MAT 150 )
  • Natural Sciences (BIO, CHM, PHY)
  • Philosophy and Religion (PHI, REL)
  • Social Sciences (ANT, CRJ, DVS, ECN, PSY, SOC)  
  • World Languages (CHI, GER, JPS, SPA)

Distributional Studies Requirements for Education Majors

Education majors must also take a minimum of three (3) semester hours from one of the following:

III. The Critical Thinking Core Sequence

The final component in Lakeland’s Interdisciplinary Studies Program is its “Core Sequence.” This set of classes is explicitly dedicated to teaching tiered sets of critical thinking skills, each set supporting the next:

  • Core I: Distinguishing facts and interpretations; analyzing evidence and counter-evidence; identifying bias; asking self-reflective questions
  • Core II: analyzing broader concepts; comparing perspectives within and across disciplines; thinking abstractly; applying ideas to new situations
  • Core III: synthesizing research material; formulating problems; thinking innovatively; assessing the implications of one’s ideas

The “topics” of these Core courses can vary from class to class, especially in the higher levels. But the underlying critical thinking skills and the philosophy behind them remain the same.

Critical Thinking is, above all, a metacognitive and cross-disciplinary skill – particularly, an ability to think about how one thinks; to reflect upon and evaluate different approaches to problems, solutions, and concepts; and to be aware of the biases that often hamper one’s problem-solving strategies.

Students hone these self-reflexive skills as they apply perspectives from their distributional studies coursework to a range of complex questions and problems. Across three integrated courses, students learn to think with increasing sophistication, beginning with basic notions of fact and evidence and ending with applying those skills to topics of vital global importance.

A. Core I: Foundations of Critical Thinking

GEN 130 - Core I: Foundations of Critical Thinking  is the first in a sequence of three courses designed to teach students progressively more complex forms of reasoning and problem-solving. Through work with a range of texts and ideas, students learn to distinguish fact from interpretation and to identify and search for both confirming and disconfirming evidence. Taught by each student’s first-year academic advisor, Core I also introduces students to Lakeland’s Interdisciplinary Studies philosophy and to the University’s curriculum and resources at large. This approach develops new students’ critical thinking skills, challenging them to identify cognitive biases that influence that ways they think and approach problems. A discussion-based format invites students to ask and answer key questions that assess arguments and perspectives.

B. Core II: Exploring the Human Condition

This sophomore-level course takes the questions, perspectives, and critical-thinking skills of Core I and expands their historical and cultural range, examining persistent questions about the human condition. By focusing on a single “central theme,” students note how such topics have been addressed and readdressed throughout history, across cultures, and within different fields of knowledge. Class discussions and presentations develop critical thinking, reading, and writing skills by exploring effective strategies for argumentation, evaluating evidence, and comparing and contrasting points of view.

C. Core III: Shaping the Future

The Critical Thinking Core Sequence’s final level asks upper-level students to apply their understanding of individuals and the human condition to a contemporary societal problem. If Core I looks at the present and Core II builds on resources from the past, then Core III looks to the future, using current events and cross-cultural challenges as a springboard for discussing the costs and benefits of potential policies, decisions, and choices. As a “writing-intensive” (WI) course, these sections of Core build on the skills developed earlier in the Critical Thinking Core Sequence, focus on the ability to research and revise one’s ideas, and require students to explore and communicate ethical proposals for change.


Most Lakeland students are required to complete all levels of the Critical Thinking Core Sequence. Intermediate and upper-level transfer students, however, are exempt from some Core requirements. Students entering with 30-74 semester hours in transfer credit must complete a Core II and a Core III course, while students entering with 75 or more semester hours in transfer are only required to complete a Core III course.

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