The Rensselaer Core Curriculum



The core curriculum is the shared educational experience across all disciplines of all Rensselaer undergraduate students that provides them with a foundation to live, learn and excel in a technology rich, culturally diverse world. It forms part of the foundation for

continued investigations within a student's chosen discipline(s). It has a dual role as a complement for any specialization, providing insight into the perspectives of other disciplines, and as a platform upon which students can optimize their specialized knowledge to address complex issues and problems.

Discipline-specific education, at least in its present form, is not sufficient to address all these needs. It is Rensselaer's belief that a well-educated person has been educated broadly in the sciences, humanities, and social sciences, upon which is built a discipline specific education that provides enough depth to allow graduates to pursue a career in their chosen area.


It is in this context that the following Core Curriculum requirements are presented.



The purpose of the Core Curriculum is to develop a student's critical thinking skills, creativity and imagination, a sensitivity to cultures and points of view other than one's own, contribute to a foundation for continued intellectual growth, and create an appreciation for the broad range of human intellectual and artistic endeavors.



The Core Curriculum Outcomes




Rensselaer was founded for the purpose of "applying science to the common purposes of life." Cur mission states that we will educate "the leaders of tomorrow for

technologically based careers,", and that we "celebrate discovery, and the responsible application of technology, to create knowledge and global prosperity." Achieving these goals requires knowledge of modern science, quantitative analysis, a global awareness and literacy in the social sciences and the humanities that prepare graduates for a lifetime of learning and active participation in a world that is multidimensional, multidisciplinary, and multicultural.

To ensure this, graduates will have:


A fundamental understanding of the scientific method of inquiry with a basic understanding of both the physical and biological world. (FSCC ok as is 3/30/05)

Students shall acquire understanding of, and skill in the use of fundamental elements of mathematics and mathematical modeling including the uncertainty of results. (FSCC approved 5/4/05)

A fundamental grasp of the methods social scientists and humanists use to explore cultural phenomena, and knowledge of the major concepts, models, and issues of at least one discipline in the social sciences and one in the humanities. (FSCC revised and approved 3/30/05)

Graduates will have an appreciation of building, creating, and sustaining organizations and an understanding of the role and impact of organizations and institutions in society. (Approved 5-4-05)



Thoroughness in any area requires practice, integration and appropriate feedback from instructors. Thoroughness should be emphasized throughout the curriculum so that our students learn to apply their skills effectively regardless of the field of endeavor. To achieve this objective, the core curriculum should strive to give students competencies in the following categories: (FSCC ok as is)


Information: Graduates will


Be able to evaluate, synthesize and apply information and concepts from multiple disciplines in their intellectual, professional, and community lives. (FSCC revised and approved 4/13/05)


Communication: Graduates will


Be able to develop content and communicate it. (FSCC revised and approved 4/13/05)

Be able to communicate in ways that display organization of ideas, a command of style and "mechanics," and awareness of context and audience

Have the ability to assess and revise their own and others' work


Research and Design: Graduates will


Have experience in addressing open-ended problems by identifying essential issues, defining and framing a problem statement, researching and exploring various alternatives, and developing and communicating solutions to a diverse audience. (FSCC ok as discussed 4/13/05)


Ethics: Graduates will


Be able to make informed and principled choices, and to foresee the consequences of these choices.

(4/27/05 revised and approved)


Have the capacity to actively evaluate the assumptions, goals, and methods of gaining knowledge in academic studies and in professional life. (no final decision reached on this statement as of 4/27)


Leadership: Graduates will


Have developed leadership skills that embrace cultural diversity and world citizenship and have experience both as leaders and members of teams. (4/127/05 revised and approved)







Graduates will


Have demonstrated the ability to function effectively in an environment outside the classroom.

(Approved 5-4-05)




The following statements still need to be discussed:


All students should have multiple opportunities to integrate their knowledge by solving problems that lead to a broader understanding of the principles involved. These activities would be part of each level of their education and would build on their current knowledge and competencies. By stressing both disciplinary and interdisciplinary areas of study our graduates will be prepared to think creatively, to understand the complexity of problems, teams, and cultural contexts both in their professional and personal lives.


Students will be exposed to several activities requfring them to synthesize their knowledge; often in the creation of a product (i.e. report, thesis, exhibition) that demonstrates thek ability to frame and resolve an open-ended question. These activities should occur at several points throughout their four-year curriculum, and provide experiences both within and outside of their discipline.


Students will have several opportunities to participate ih team-oriented activities that allow them to develop their collaborative and leadership skills.


Students in all programs will have the opportunity to include at least one out-of classroom activity (e.g. co-op, study abroad, community service) that is a mixture of life and academic experience.