Complex Questions: Global Challenges & Social Justice

Overview of the New Curriculum

The Global Challenges & Social Justice curriculum at Union College creates opportunities for students to engage with and develop an understanding of the complex and global nature of many issues and how different disciplinary perspectives can address and illuminate them.

To help them begin to address complex questions, students start with a First-Year Inquiry (FYI) seminar designed to introduce critical inquiry across the disciplines at Union, with a focus on open-ended questions.

Once students complete the FYI, they select a minimum of eight additional courses that incorporate two major Areas of Inquiry - Justice, Equity, Identity, Difference (JEID) and Global Challenges (GC). These themes are explored through diverse liberal arts disciplines that comprise the eight different Perspectives categories.

Integrated into this framework is Union's Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program. We believe that students learn best when they write across a wide variety of courses and contexts. Union's WAC program is committed to the development of student writers through writing-rich coursework within the disciplines and across the curriculum - through all four years at the college.

All Union students are required to complete the following WAC requirements as they move through their undergraduate experience: (1) the First-Year Inquiry Seminar; (2) five courses from at least two different divisions that have been specially certified and designated as WAC courses, at least one of which must be designated WAC-R; (3) a senior writing (WS) experience such as a senior thesis, senior seminar paper, or designated departmental WS course.

Phased-In Rollout

Starting with the Class of 2026, the new general education curriculum will be phased in over three years.

Beginning in September 2022, all incoming students will be enrolled in an FYI course. Additionally, students will be required to take courses in both Areas of Inquiry, as well as complete the WAC program components.

The phased-in aspect of the curriculum implementation will determine how many Perspectives courses will be required of students and is based on their entering year.

Entering, Class Year # of Perspectives in an Area of Inquiry
Entering Fall 2022, Class of 2026 6
Entering Fall 2023, Class of 2027 7
Entering Fall 2024, Class of 2028 8

The curriculum will be fully implemented for students entering in Fall 2024 when they will be required to complete all 9 general education courses over the course of their education at Union.