General education ensures that Lawrence students gain familiarity with different academic disciplines and the modes of thought and expression appropriate to each, that they develop an understanding of global and domestic diversity and their impact on contemporary life, and that they develop competencies in writing/speaking, quantitative reasoning, and world languages.
The purpose of the distribution requirement is to ensure that students graduating from Lawrence experience the breadth of study central to a liberal arts education. For that reason, students are required to take at least one course in each division: humanities, natural sciences (with laboratory), social sciences, and fine arts (see "Divisions within the university"). This requirement cannot be satisfied with examination credit (AP, IB, or A-levels).
Humanities: In the humanities, students learn to engage in close readings of literary, cultural, historical, religious, or philosophical works and provide critical comments on those works. They also learn to place works in their historical, cultural, and/or literary contexts.
Natural sciences (with laboratory): In the natural sciences, students learn to use their understanding of a scientific concept to interpret a natural phenomenon and to draw reasonable conclusions from scientific data.
Social sciences: In the social sciences, students learn to define significant questions within the fields of anthropology, economics, education, government, or psychology and to explain how one would seek to answer those questions using methods from one or more of those fields.
Fine arts: In the fine arts, students learn to recognize and describe the concepts and/or methods involved in creating a piece of visual art, music, or theatre. They also learn to recognize and describe forms of artistic expression in their historical and cultural contexts and to create or interpret visual art, music, or theatre using methods introduced or practiced in the classroom or studio.
The purpose of the diversity requirements is to prepare students for an increasingly diverse American society and an increasingly interconnected world. Diversity requirements call for at least one course focusing on an area outside Europe and the United States or on a global perspective on a contemporary issue (courses listed with a “G” designation in the class schedule) and one course exploring dimensions of diversity that affect contemporary American society (courses listed with a “D” designation in the class schedule).
Global diversity: In global diversity (G) courses, students learn to describe important aspects of the political, economic, social, or cultural context of at least one region of the world outside Europe and the United States or, alternatively, to articulate a global and/or comparative perspective on a contemporary issue.
Dimensions of diversity: In dimensions of diversity (D) courses, students learn to discuss critically at least one dimension of diversity (such as race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality) that is of importance in understanding contemporary society and to demonstrate an awareness of how diversity influences social life.
Competency requirements improve fundamental skills central to a liberal arts education and include courses designated as writing intensive (W) or speaking intensive (S), as emphasizing quantitative reasoning (Q), and as leading toward proficiency in a language other than English (at the 200 level or above). Alternative ways to satisfy the language proficiency requirement are described under Academic Procedures and Regulations.
Writing intensive & speaking intensive: In writing-intensive (W) and speaking-intensive (S) courses, students learn to articulate a coherent thesis and supporting argument, to incorporate feedback and revision into the writing or speaking process to improve critical thinking, and to demonstrate awareness of the conventions and traditions of the discipline in which the work is undertaken.
Quantitative reasoning: In quantitative reasoning (Q) courses, students learn to apply quantitative techniques (mathematical, graphical, algebraic, or statistical), algorithmic methods, or formal logical analysis to solve defined problems or bodies of problems.
Language proficiency: In modern language courses that satisfy the language proficiency requirement, students learn to listen, speak, read, and write at the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) intermediate-mid level for French, German, Italian, or Spanish or intermediate-low level for Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, or Russian. In classical language courses that satisfy the requirement, students learn to read and comprehend extended passages in Latin or Ancient Greek. In all language courses, students express, interpret, and negotiate meaning in the target language using linguistic, social, and historical knowledge about the target culture(s) and people(s).