As a liberal arts institution, Willamette structures its curriculum to provide students with a broad range of instruction in the natural and social sciences, the humanities, languages, and the arts. In addition to majoring in a discipline of their choice, students will learn to approach questions and problems from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, enhancing their ability to craft rich and complex solutions. Willamette’s General Education program is designed to develop students’ critical and creative thinking, strengthen their writing and communication skills, and provide them with tools to navigate an increasingly diverse world. General Education, then, plays a critical part in preparing Willamette graduates to transform knowledge into action and lead lives of contribution, achievement, and meaning. 

General Education Requirements

The General Education Program has 5 components: College Colloquium, Distribution, Writing, World Engagement, and Power, Difference and Equity. Courses taught this fall that satisfy particular parts of the General Education program are listed in the schedule of classes. Use the Course Type Quick Assess.

The College Colloquium is a one-semester seminar required of all entering first-year students. Taught by faculty across the curriculum and encompassing a wide diversity of topics, each seminar provides a challenging introduction to the liberal arts curriculum through close engagement with ideas, effective communication, discussion, and critical thinking.

The Distribution component expresses one of the fundamental values of a liberal arts education, which is that students should have a broad exposure to significant areas of human inquiry and cultural practice. Through this exposure, students cultivate a diversity of interests, gain an awareness of multiple intellectual frameworks, and learn a variety of approaches to solving problems. The requisite distributions are as follows:

  • Arts and Humanities (8 credits with at least two different prefixes)
  • Mathematical Sciences (4 credits)
  • Natural Sciences (4 credits)
  • Social Sciences (4 credits)

While some courses are designated in more than one Distribution category, each course may only be counted one time toward the Distribution requirement. To complete the Distribution requirement, students must finish five distinct courses with five distinct department/program prefixes.

The Writing Program promotes a culture of writing that prepares students to use writing as an instrument of their continued learning, in the career paths they follow, and in participation in social, cultural, and civic life. Writing-centered classes incorporate writing as an important mode of intellectual discovery and expression. Through a process of drafts and revisions, students develop their ideas in a peer community of writers and readers.

Requirement: Students are to take eight writing-centered credits (designated by a W after the course number in the schedule of classes), at least one of which must be taken at the upper-division level (300/400).

The World Engagement component ensures that students interact with diverse ideas, perspectives, and/or experiences representative of global cultures and societies as part of their course of study. World Engagement components consist of a specified language requirement and eight credits in World Engagement electives.

  1. Non-English Language (NEL) (8 credits or equivalent) -- Demonstrated proficiency through the 132 course level in a non-English language of the student's choosing. Students who place at a 231 level or higher via a placement 
test and who pass a proficiency test administered by the language department will have this requirement waived. Students who can demonstrate proficiency in a primary language other than English may have this requirement waived. Students seeking an accommodation for language substitution should contact Accessible Education Services.

  2. World Engagement Electives -- In addition to meeting the NEL requirement, students must earn at least 8 additional credits from some combination of the following WE electives*: 

    a. NEL study beyond the 132 course level
    b. Study Abroad
    c. Community Engaged Learning
    d. Culture and Values (CV) courses

*Each of these requirements must be satisfied by a different distinct course.

Power, Difference, and Equity (PDE) courses ensure that students critically engage with historic and contemporary structures of power, systemic inequality, identity and difference, and intersections of oppression/privilege. Through an interrogation of the exercise of power in society, students will learn to recognize the ways that social structures shape reality and to imagine the possibilities for a more equitable, sustainable future.

Willamette University

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Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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