The lower-division General Education program of the Hutchins School consists of First and Second Year Learning Community courses of 6-9 units each covering 2-3 GE categories per per semester. The entire course sequences fulfills, with the exception of mathematics, all of the Sonoma State University lower-division General Education requirements. Courses are open to all SSU students and not restricted to Liberal Studies majors.
The program courses are as follows:
Each of these seminars is made up of a maximum of 15 students and a professor. Learning proceeds by a process of reading, writing, and discussion, in which all students are urged to take an active part. Each seminar is part of a larger learning community that meets together once a week for lectures, field trips, labs, and other group projects. The curriculum for these seminars is developed collaboratively by the faculty facilitating each seminar section, thus drawing on a wide range of disciplinary expertise.
Strongly emphasizing excellence in written communication, the program includes extensive writing projects and regular tutorials. The emphasis throughout is on the critical examination of contemporary problems in their historical contexts. Each student is expected to arrive at conclusions that result from personal reflection and exploration of the ideas of major thinkers in diverse fields.
At mid-semester, students meet individually with the professor to discuss their progress. At this point, they have an opportunity to reflect on and assess their own learning, a key ingredient in developing the skill of lifelong learning. Students may choose a letter grade or the credit/no credit option. A student taking the course credit/no credit is also given a copy of a detailed evaluation of his or her work, which is placed in the student’s Hutchins file. This evaluation assesses the student’s cognitive skills, seminar participation, understanding of the course content, writing skills, independent project, and special course assignments. A written commentary addresses each student’s particular strengths and indicates the way in which the student should improve in order to become an effective, lifelong learner. Thus, the evaluation conveys a great deal more information than does a single letter grade. Unofficial grades can, at the student’s request, be made available to other schools, agencies, or prospective employers who need a quantitative measure of performance if students choose to take the courses credit/no credit. Students choosing the graded option will have their letter grade included as part of their Sonoma State G.P.A.