New Capstone Experience

New Capstone Experience Proposal – Approved by University Faculty Senate – April 12, 2004

The Liberal Arts Core Committee (LACC) believes that the Capstone program, as a university-wide endeavor, is best organized as a distinct part of the Liberal Arts Core, within a new category (Category 7 rather than Category 3).

The LACC proposes that an integrative Liberal Arts Core experience is highly desirable during the junior or senior year as an aid in preparing UNI students for the complex world of ideas that should engage them during their lives as educated citizens. The LACC also understands that any Capstone experience must be sufficiently flexible in content to allow and encourage widespread participation by UNI faculty.

With this goal and this condition in mind, the LACC recommends that the Liberal Arts Core Capstone two-credit requirement be revised to provide each UNI undergraduate with a courses selected from a list of courses approved by the LACC.

This course:

  • Will have enrollment limited to juniors and seniors;

  • Will be attractive and accessible to students from a wide spectrum of disciplinary backgrounds;

  • Will, at a minimum, either 1) integrate content from two or more diverse disciplines, or 2) emphasize service-based learning and provide engagement with communities outside UNI.

 

In identifying Capstone courses, the LACC will be guided by the following desirable course attributes.

That the course:

  • Be intellectually challenging and promote development of higher-order thinking skills;

  • Make student disciplinary diversity a strength of its design;

  • Link theory to practice through applied problem-solving activities;

  • Promote the development of skills and dispositions associated with self-directed, life-long learning.

 

The LACC recommends that this revision in Capstone be a requirement of all students who transfer to UNI or begin their undergraduate course work at UNI on or after the Fall 2004 semester.

Environment, Technology, and Society (820:140) will continue as a Capstone course. The LACC will approve other appropriate Capstone courses on a provisional basis at the earliest opportunity.

Capstone General Education Course (Revised Proposal, January 23, 1986)

The multidisciplinary capstone course will require students to think about issues at a level where they must integrate scientific knowledge, economic and political realities, historical experiences, and moral, philosophical, and aesthetic values. Academic disciplines often encourage specialization; however, our students live and will work in a world where information from several disciplines must be integrated. Obviously, individuals cannot have all the specialized knowledge relevant to a decision in their private, work, or civic life. However, they must realize that such information is relevant and available. Students should also realize that issues involve moral choices and that information from several disciplines enables them to make more informed choices.

A multidisciplinary capstone course would accomplish several objectives: 1) facilitate a synthesis of the student's educational experience of the first three years; 2) emphasize the complexity and connectedness of the natural and social components of our environment; 3) develop an appreciation of the value of all academic disciplines in intelligent and informed decisions in our changing world; and 4) demonstrate that learning should not end at graduation but be a life-long process.

The capstone course should be a university-wide course with many sections taught by individuals from relevant disciplines. It should not be several courses housed in specific departments or colleges. The overall objectives of synthesizing information from many disciplines should apply to all sections, whether they are taught by natural scientists, social scientists, historians, philosophers, or others. Instructors must appreciate the contributions of many academic disciplines to the issues and be willing to assign material representing a variety of disciplinary viewpoints.

Each section should include students from a wide variety of majors to achieve a multi-disciplinary class. Students with different majors will bring to the class different bodies of knowledge and different viewpoints.

The course will be defined by a list of books, monographs, and/or articles on topics and issues that exemplify the multidisciplinary, integrative objective. The reading materials and topics should meet the following criteria: 1) timely and timeless issues of importance; 2) issues involving information from many academic disciplines and difficult moral choices; each of our collegiate groupings of subjects should be represented; 3) demonstration of geopolitical diversity and the interdependence of countries. The list of reading materials should be developed and regularly updated by a committee of the faculty who teach the course and approved by the staff. Each instructor will have the option of including one book that is not on the list.

Individual sections should be small enough to allow lively discussion among students and to make possible the assignment of papers. Each section should read, discuss, and write about the assigned material. The instructor will be more of a facilitator than a lecturer.

Since the purpose of this course is to integrate knowledge from many disciplines and to utilize collegiate-level skills in discussing significant issues confronting society, students taking this course must have completed at least 75 credit hours and their other Liberal Arts Core courses.