Propose a Liberal Studies Course


The purpose of the Liberal Studies Program is to provide opportunities for students to gain a breadth of knowledge and skills that complements the depth of knowledge and expertise that they acquire in their major.  The Liberal Studies Committee’s curriculum process ensures all Liberal Studies designated courses provide high-quality student learning experiences, and align with the learning outcomes and requirements set forth by the Liberal Studies Program.

Process Overview: Submission of Curricula

Course proposals must be received no later than December 1st in order to be included in the following year's academic catalog.

To make a curriculum change that will appear in the Academic Catalog for Liberal Studies courses:

  1. Begin by contacting the Curriculum Process Associate, Scott Galland ( at 523-1753.  The Curriculum Process Associate will fill out the necessary Academic Catalog submission forms for you, return them to you, and work with you to prepare them for submission to the appropriate curriculum committees.
  2. While the Curriculum Process Associate works on your Academic Catalog Forms, you will need to develop a course syllabus, which will be submitted to curriculum committees with the Academic Catalog Forms.
  3. See distribution block syllabi templates bellow.
  4. Department-level, college-level, and university curriculum committees will then review the forms and approve or deny the changes.  If the proposal is unclear or if the committee needs additional information or changes, they will request revisions.  Please allow extra time in your planning to ensure you have time to address any revisions set forth by the Liberal Studies committee.


Designing Your Syllabus to Align with Liberal Studies Designations

Aesthetic & Humanistic Inquiry

Purpose of AHI Distribution Block
Courses within the Aesthetic & Humanistic Inquiry Distribution Block study the human condition through philosophical inquiry and the analysis of creative expression.  These courses involve students in the study of the human condition through philosophical inquiry and analysis of the various forms of creative expression. These courses help students develop an understanding of the relationship between context and human creative expression, major conceptual frameworks utilized to make sense of the creative arts, and how human experience and values are expressed through creative endeavors. Students also develop their capacities for analysis and ethical reasoning along with an understanding of the multiple facets of the human condition.

Aesthetic & Humanistic Inquiry Syllabus Template

Aesthetic & Humanistic Inquiry Distribution Block Purposes andOutcomes

Example Syllabi for Aesthetic & Humanistic Inquiry.

 Cultural Understanding

Purpose of Cultural Understanding Distribution Block
The purpose of the Cultural Understanding Distribution Block is to enhance students’ understanding of different cultures of the world through the study of language, literature, religion, and artistic creation.  These courses provide students with an experience of diverse cultures (different from their own), and an analytic framework that facilitates awareness of how cultures vary and shape human experience. Students become more familiar with cultures of the world and develop an appreciation for the unique features and perspectives of varied cultural traditions.

Cultural Understanding Syllabus Template

Cultural Understanding Distribution Block Purposes and Outcomes

Example Syllabi for Cultural Understanding

Science & Applied Science

Purpose of Science & Applied Science Distribution Block
The purpose of the Science & Applied Science Distribution Block is to increase students’ knowledge about the natural world and the impact of technology on the human condition and the natural world.  Courses in this block increase students’ knowledge of important theories, concepts, and taxonomies that are central to scientific disciplines and the application of scientific knowledge and technologies to problem solving. Laboratory Science courses increase students’ ability to apply the scientific method to understand a variety of physical and biological phenomena. Students will also learn to employ the logic and techniques of scientific inquiry and thereby develop an understanding of the basis and limits of contemporary scientific knowledge. Courses in this block also address the impact of technology on the human condition and the natural world.

Science & Applied Science Syllabus Template

Science & Applied Science Distribution Block Purposes and Outcomes

Example of Syllabi for Science & Applied Science

 Social & Political Worlds

Purpose of Social & Political Worlds Distribution Block
The purpose of the Social & Political Worlds Distribution Blocks is for students to explore how different empirical and theoretical strategies are used to study human behavior and social, political, and cultural systems.  Courses in this block engage students in the study of the patterns that characterize the history of human communities, the relationships between the psychological, social, cultural and political components of human communities and dynamics of human behavior in varied context. Students learn how different empirical and theoretical strategies are employed to study human behavior and social, political, and cultural systems. These courses enhance student understanding of the dynamic relationships between human communities and their ecological context, the systematic components and dynamic of contemporary human societies, relationships between human societies in the global community, and the major dimensions of variation in contemporary human experience.

Social & Political Worlds Syllabus Template

Social & Political Worlds Distribution Block Purposes and Outcomes

Example Syllabi for Social & Political Worlds

 Junior-Level Writing

Purpose of Junior-Level Writing Requirement
Course Attributes:
3-credit, 300-level courses
Minimum prerequisite: English Foundation requirement
Assignments that require students to produce a minimum of twenty revised pages of writing.
The Junior-Level Writing requirement is designed to meet the goals of the Liberal Studies program as well as the academic major. In most cases, JLW courses are embedded within the major in order to engage students in the writing process in the context of a discipline or profession. Once approved by the Liberal Studies Committee, these courses are designated with a W at the end of the course number.
Junior-Level Writing Syllabus Template
     More details coming soon.
Example of Syllabi for Junior-Level Writing
      More details coming soon.

 Senior Capstone

Purpose of Senior Capstone
Northern Arizona University’s capstone requirement is designed to ensure students apply the knowledge and skills they have developed throughout their undergraduate education, specifically from their degree program and Liberal Studies requirements.  In these integrative and culminating experiences students should inquire, synthesize, apply, or work in ways that prepare them for a productive future. 
Capstone experiences achieve the following goals:
  • Capstones require students to bring together the learning in the major and demonstrate that they have met the degree program’s student learning outcomes. 
  • Capstones afford the opportunity for students to experience how learning in the major integrates with learning in the Liberal Studies Program, including overlap of learning outcomes in the major with learning outcomes of the Liberal Studies Essential Skills and Distribution Blocks.
  • Capstones, as a culminating experience, provide a "destination point" for other coursework in the degree program.
  • Capstones provide information to degree program faculty about strengths and gaps in their curriculum. Faculty members can then discuss student performance in the aggregate and use assessment findings to improve their program.
By April 4, 201, the Liberal Studies Committee (LSC) requires all capstones be “refreshed” because many courses have “drifted” from the requirement’s original purpose—to intentionally integrate undergraduate students’ disciplinary and Liberal Studies experiences through a culminating experience in the major.  These efforts will also assist degree programs and the Liberal Studies Program meet the assessment and continual improvement requirements set forth by NAU’s regional accreditor. Click here for information on the Capstone Refresh Process.
Senior Capstone Syllabus Template