Catalog 2010-2012

Liberal Arts Core

As stated in the University of Northern Iowa mission statement, the university's undergraduate programs are founded on a strong liberal arts curriculum. The liberal arts experience in the Liberal Arts Core exposes students to the broad areas of knowledge embodied in the whole of the environment and liberates students to further develop the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to live thoughtful, creative, and productive lives. The American Association of Colleges and Universities' AStatement on Liberal Learning@ reflects the purposes of UNI's Liberal Arts Core:

A truly liberal education is one that prepares us to live responsible, productive, and creative lives in a dramatically changing world. It is an education that fosters a well-grounded intellectual resilience, a disposition toward lifelong learning, and an acceptance of responsibility for the ethical consequences of our ideas and actions. Liberal education requires that we understand the foundations of knowledge and inquiry about nature, culture and society; that we master core skills of perception, analysis, and expression; that we cultivate a respect for truth; that we recognize the importance of historical and cultural context; and that we explore connections among formal learning, citizenship, and service to our communities.

We experience the benefits of liberal learning by pursuing intellectual work that is honest, challenging, and significant, and by preparing ourselves to use knowledge and power in responsible ways. Liberal learning is not confined to particular fields of study. What matters in liberal education is substantial content, rigorous methodology and an active engagement with the societal, ethical, and practical implications of our learning. The spirit and value of liberal learning are equally relevant to all forms of higher education and to all students.

Because liberal learning aims to free us from the constraints of ignorance, sectarianism, and short-sightedness, it prizes curiosity and seeks to expand the boundaries of human knowledge. By its nature, therefore, liberal learning is global and pluralistic. It embraces the diversity of ideas and experiences that characterize the social, natural, and intellectual world. To acknowledge such diversity in all its forms is both an intellectual commitment and a social responsibility, for nothing less will equip us to understand our world and to pursue fruitful lives.

The ability to think, to learn, and to express oneself both rigorously and creatively, the capacity to understand ideas and issues in context, the commitment to live in society, and the yearning for truth are fundamental features of our humanity. In centering education upon these qualities, liberal learning is society=s best investment in our shared future.

(The Association of American Colleges and Universities' AStatement on Liberal Learning,@ 1999)


Requirements of the Liberal Arts Core*:  
Category 1: Core Competencies 12 hours*
Category 2: Civilizations and Cultures 9 hours
Category 3: Fine Arts, Literature, Philosophy and Religion 6 hours
Category 4: Natural Science and Technology 7 hours
Category 5: Social Science 9 hours
Category 6: Capstone Experience 2 hours
Total Program Minimum   45 hours*


*For students admitted to UNI prior to Fall 1994, the Speaking and Listening course included in the Core Competencies category is not required.

Courses numbered 000-099^ are open primarily to freshmen and sophomores. Courses numbered 100-199^ are open primarily to juniors and seniors.

^See course descriptions for 4-digit numbers (to be implemented Fall 2011) associated with 100-level courses.



Category 1: Core Competencies            12 hours*

Courses in written and oral communication enhance students= abilities to read and listen critically and to write and speak effectively by attention to how the gathering, analyzing, and presenting of evidence and conclusions can be designed for specific purposes and audiences. Courses in quantitative techniques enhance students= abilities to use quantitative data effectively and to apply relevant mathematical and statistical concepts and methods to diverse problems and situations. Personal wellness promotes the acquisition of knowledge and the development of skills and attitudes necessary for implementing positive health-related decisions.

A. Reading and Writing (3 hours required)*

620:005 College Writing and Research (3 hrs.)

620:015 Craft of Academic Writing (3 hrs.)

620:034 Critical Writing About Literature (3 hrs.)

*620:005 recommended for students with ACT English and Reading scores of 18-26;

620:015 has prerequisite of combined ACT English and Reading scores of 54 or higher;

620:034 recommended for English majors and minors with prerequisite of ACT English and Reading scores of 54 or higher.

B. Speaking and Listening (3 hours required)**

48C:001 Oral Communication (3 hrs.)

OR two courses distributed as follows:

48C:011 Oral Interpretation: Texts in Performance, (3 hrs.) or

48C:071 Public Speaking, (3 hrs.) or

48C:074 Argumentation and Debate, (3 hrs.);


48C:004 Interpersonal Communication, (3 hrs.) or

48C:031 Group Communication Skills, (3 hrs.)

**For students admitted to UNI prior to Fall 1994, the Speech and Listening course included in the Communication Essentials category is not required.

C. Quantitative Techniques and Understanding (3 hours required)***           

800:023 Mathematics in Decision Making (3 hrs.)

800:060 Calculus I (4 hrs.)

800:064 Introductory Statistics for Life Sciences (3 hrs.)           

800:072 Introduction to Statistical Methods (3 hrs.)

810:025 Computational Modeling and Simulation, (3 hrs.)

Elementary Education students may meet the Category 1C requirement by completing 800:031 (3 hrs.).

***Students with Math ACT scores that are 26 or higher will be placed in 800:060 or 800:072 as follows:

Those with four years of college prep math with a grade of B or higher in the senior-level course will be placed in 800:060. Those not satisfying these criteria will be placed in 800:072.

D. Personal Wellness (3 hours required)

440:010 Personal Wellness (3 hrs.)


Category 2:  Civilizations and Cultures            9 hours

Courses in this category promote an understanding of Western and non-Western cultures and civilizations from ancient times to the present through historical accounts, literatures, philosophies, religions, and fine arts. Using methods of critical inquiry, students explore aspects of human nature, the shaping of thoughts and values, and their interrelations.

A. Humanities (6 hours required)

680:021 Humanities I: The Ancient, Classical, and Medieval Worlds (3 hrs.)

680:022 Humanities II: The Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment (3 hrs.)

680:023 Humanities III: The Age of Revolution to the Present (3 hrs.)

B. Non-Western Cultures (3 hours required)

680:121 Russia/Soviet Union (3 hrs.)

680:122 Japan (3 hrs.)

680:123 Latin America (3 hrs.)

680:124 China (3 hrs.)

680:125 India (3 hrs.)

680:127 Middle East (3 hrs.)

680:128 Africa (3 hrs.)

680:132/990:132 Native North America (3 hrs.)

680:137/990:137 Native Central and South America (3 hrs.)

780:120 may substitute for the Non-Western Cultures requirement ( 3 hrs.).


Category 3:  Fine Arts, Literature, Philosophy and Religion            6 hours

Courses in this category explore diverse forms of human expression and enhance understanding of how religious, philosophical, literary, and aesthetic ideas and experiences shape and reflect cultures and common patterns of human life. Students will develop knowledge of the complex interplay of culture, history, and human experience through critical examination of ideas and beliefs, ritual and symbol, moral codes and social values, story and poetry, visual art, music, theater, and dance.

A. Fine Arts (3 hours required)*

420:034 Survey of Dance History (3 hrs.)

490:002 The Theatrical Arts and Society (3 hrs.)

520:010 Soundscapes: Music in Culture (3 hrs.)

600:002 Visual Inventions (3 hrs.)

600:004 Visual Perceptions (3 hrs.)

*590:002 may substitute for the Fine Arts requirement for all music majors (3 hrs.).

B. Literature, Philosophy, or Religion (3 hours required)

620:031 Introduction to Literature (3 hrs.)

640:024 Religions of the World (3 hrs.)

650:021 Philosophy: The Art of Thinking (3 hrs.)

720:031 Introduction to Francophone Literature in Translation (3 hrs.)

740:031 Introduction to German Literature in Translation (3 hrs.)

770:031 Introduction to Russian Literature in Translation (3 hrs.)

790:031 Introduction to Portuguese and Hispanic Literatures in Translation (3 hrs.)


Category 4:  Natural Science and Technology            7 hours

Courses in natural science promote an understanding of science as a human process that investigates matter and energy acting within complex organic and inorganic systems. Fundamental principles of both physical and life sciences are included.

Students are required to take a course with a scheduled laboratory from either Life Sciences or Physical Sciences or another laboratory course offered by the College of Natural Sciences. Only 6 hours are required for students who meet the Liberal Arts Core laboratory requirement with a course other than one listed in Life or Physical Sciences.

A. Life Sciences (3 or 4 hours required)

820:032*  Inquiry into Life Science (4 hrs.)

840:012  Life: The Natural World (3 hrs.)

840:013* Life: The Natural World - Lab (1 hr.)

840:014  Life: Continuity and Change (3 hrs.)

840:015*  Life: Continuity and Change - Lab (1 hr.)

840:033*  Principles of Microbiology (3 hrs.)

840:051*  General Biology: Organismal Diversity (4 hrs.)

840:052*  General Biology: Cell Structure and Function (4 hrs.)

840:101*  Anatomy and Physiology (4 hrs.)

990:010 Human Origins (3 hrs.)

*Lab Course

B.  Physical Sciences (3 or 4 hours required)

820:031* Inquiry into Physical Science (4 hrs.)

820:033* Inquiry into Earth Science (4 hrs.)

860:010* Principles of Chemistry (4 hrs.)

860:011   Molecules and Life (3 hrs.)

860:020*   Chemical Technology (4 hrs.)

860:044*   General Chemistry (4 hrs.)

860:061*   Applied General Chemistry (4 hrs.)

860:070*   General Chemistry I-II (5 hrs.)

870:010**  Astronomy (3-4 hrs.)

870:011*   Astronomy Laboratory (1 hr.)

870:021   Elements of Weather (3 hrs.)

870:022*  Elements of Weather Laboratory (1 hr.)

870:031* Introduction to Geology (4 hrs.)

870:125*  Fossils and Evolution (4 hrs.)

880:011* Conceptual Physics (4 hrs.)

880:012  Physics in Everyday Life (3 hrs.)

880:054* General Physics (4 hrs.)

880:130* Physics I for Science and Engineering (4 hrs.)

970:026**  Physical Geography (3-4 hrs.)

*Lab Course

**Lab Course if 4-hour option elected


Category 5:  Social Science            9 hours


Courses in this category introduce students to the description and analysis of human behavior from different perspectives, ranging from the societal and cultural to the institutional, individual, and topical viewpoints. Students are exposed to the diversity of sociocultural systems created by human beings during their evolutionary development, and examine the manner in which behavior is influenced by environmental, sociocultural, psychological, and historical processes.

Required: one course from group A, one course from group B, and one course from group A, B, or C. (Students cannot count both 970:010 and 970:040 toward the Liberal Arts Core.)

A.  Group A   Sociocultural and Historical Perspectives

680:040 Women’s and Gender Studies: Introduction (3 hrs.)

900:023 American Civilization (3 hrs.)

970:010 Human Geography (3 hrs.)

970:040 World Geography (3 hrs.)

980:001 Introduction to Sociology (3 hrs.)

990:011 Culture, Nature, and Society (3 hrs.)

B.   Group B   Individual and Institutional Perspectives

31F:010 Human Identity and Relationships (3 hrs.)

400:001 Introduction to Psychology (3 hrs.)

920:024* Introduction to Economics (3 hrs.)

942:014  Introduction to American Politics (3 hrs.)

943:024  International Relations (3 hrs.)

*Satisfactory completion of both 920:053 and 920:054 by all non-business majors and Business Teaching majors, through UNI or transfer, may substitute for 920:024.

C.   Group C   Topical Perspectives

200:030   Dynamics of Human Development (3 hrs.)

450:041/900:041 Social Welfare: A World View (3 hrs.)

450:045/900:045/980:045 American Racial and Ethnic Minorities (3 hrs.)

900:020 Women, Men, and Society (3 hrs.)

940:020 Contemporary Political Problems (3 hrs.)

980:060 Social Problems (3 hrs.)


Category 6: Capstone Experience            2 hours

Capstone courses provide opportunities for students to synthesize the diverse realms of thought they have studied and to apply the intellectual proficiencies they have acquired. The emphasis is on cultivating life-long learning through linking theory and academic preparation to practical problem-solving activities in multidisciplinary seminars or community-based learning courses.

Prerequisite: junior standing.

The most current list of approved Liberal Arts Core Capstone courses is available in each semester=s Schedule of Classes. Also visit the web site

TOTAL             45 hours


Liberal Arts Core courses included in major or minor program requirements are distinguished by italics. 


Administrative Policies:

  1. Liberal Arts Core courses may be used to satisfy requirements for both the Liberal Arts Core and the major, minor, and program emphases.
  2. Departments offering a Liberal Arts Core course may preclude their major or minor students from taking that particular course to satisfy the requirements for the Liberal Arts Core, the major, or the minor.
  3. Liberal Arts Core requirements can be met through CLEP examinations, departmental examinations, and the Advanced Placement Program of the College Entrance Examination Board. A student who receives CLEP credit in both the physical and biological sciences shall be considered to have fulfilled the laboratory requirement.
  4. No Liberal Arts Core course may be taken for graduate credit.
  5. No Liberal Arts Core course may have a non-Liberal Arts Core course as a prerequisite.
  6. All courses taken to meet Liberal Arts Core requirements must be taken for graded credit.
  7. The Associate of Arts degree from Iowa community colleges shall continue to be accepted, according to an approved articulation agreement, to meet most Liberal Arts Core requirements.
  8. The Liberal Arts Core requirements apply to all undergraduate degree programs.
  9. Regents Articulation Agreement:
    The University of Northern Iowa, the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Iowa, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University agree to accept fulfillment of the Liberal Arts Core at any one of them as equivalent to completion of Liberal Arts Core requirements at another, with the following stipulations:
    1. This agreement does not apply to those students who transfer without having fully completed the Liberal Arts Core prior to transfer.
    2. Validation of fulfillment of Liberal Arts Core requirements requires that a student transferring must have met the transfer requirements of the receiving institution with respect to semester hours and grade point average.
    3.  When a foreign language proficiency, a capstone course, and/or a course in foreign culture is required, whether within or in addition to the Liberal Arts Core, a student may meet this requirement at either institution regardless of the institution whose Liberal Arts Core requirements the student fulfills.
    4. Liberal Arts Core validation is the responsibility of the student transferring and will be completed upon request to the Registrar of the institution from which the student is transferring.