The International Core: Integrated Studies of the Contemporary World is designed as an alternative way to satisfy core curriculum requirements. Consisting of a constellation of interdisciplinary and frequently team-taught courses, the program explores contemporary issues and their historical foundations using an integrated approach in an international context. The program stresses critical thinking and writing.
PLU’s alternative core, known as the International Studies Program, celebrated its first year in 1975 under the leadership of former Philosophy Professor, Kurt Huber, as the result of a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities. Known then as the Integrated Studies Program, the focus was upon interdisciplinary, team-taught courses.
During its initial years, up to
four different professors taught the111 section. Students received a substantial course
packet, written in large part by PLU faculty.
The course began historically with the Renaissance and Reformations,
ended with the early Enlightenment, and included religion (Christianity),
Western philosophy, political history, art, music, and science. Chris Meyer of the Math Department wrote an
ambitious supplement focusing on the Scientific Revolution. As now, students who took 111 and transferred
to Core I could receive credit for either a philosophy or a religion course, of
their choosing. ISP 112 (originally
212) focused on
Other courses in the original program included Imagine the Self and Imaging the World, as well as a concluding seminar. Early in the program’s inception a 20th-century team-taught course on the twentieth century was inaugurated.
ISP was designed to offer an academic edge to students desiring a creative, challenging learning environment. A sense of community and pride in being an ISP student developed. A hallmark of the program was its self-selectivity, and it became something of a de-facto honor’s program. At the time, the interdisciplinary nature of the program, coupled with its three-year incremental structure, were fairly unique in academia. from its start, Core II consisted of a total of seven courses.
Faculty considered it an honor to be invited to teach in the ISP program, all the while recognizing the need to learn from scratch about disciplines outside their specialization and the pedagogical challenge of teaching materials in an interdisciplinary context. Team teaching brought together faculty from diverse disciplines, lending to University community building.
From its inception, participating faculty have held a Fall workshop, initially two days in duration. Stipends during the last two years have come from outside grant sources. Agenda items during the initial years included course content and open discussion of student evaluation scores in individual courses, with shared suggestions for improvement. As now, it was recognized that the life of the program depended upon high student satisfaction. In recent years, workshops have focused upon program cohesion and student learning, in terms of content as well as cognitive and affective learning. The Fall workshop is generally held the day preceding PLU’s Faculty and Staff Fall Conference. An additional evening “super” IC Faculty meeting is generally held each semester. Attendance at the Fall workshop and semester “Super” meetings is strongly encouraged. These get-togethers provide for cohesion in the sharing of pedagogies and course content, and allow for wide input on program decisions and directions.
By 2000, the ISP Program had grown considerably in course offerings. Course content included a broad international focus, and topical issues such as social justice, gender, the environment, and technology were introduced. In line with this shift, a small group of faculty began to formulate a corresponding change in the program’s name and to draft grant proposals aimed at enhancing this evolving direction. PLU faculty formally approved the change of name to the International Core. Ann Kelleher, then Dean of Social Sciences, submitted a successful proposal to the Department of Education. As grant director and program chair, 2001-Fall ‘03, she has helped shepherd a renovated and strengthened program that has welcomed new, dedicated faculty members and burgeoning student enrollments.
(Program Guidelines,, 9/2000)
Courses in the International Core may be international in one or more of the following ways:
Courses in the International Core may be integrated in one or more of the following ways:
From the Humanities (1 to 2 members)
From the Natural Sciences (1 to 2 members)
From the Social Sciences (1 to 2 members)
From the Professional Schools (1 to 2 members)
Grant Administrators (ex-officio and ad hoc, as grants require)
Current Committee Members:
Roberta Brown (Chair)
Jim Albrecht (on sabbatical leave)
Sam Torvend (one-year replacement for Him Albrecht)
Ann Kelleher (ex-officio, as DOE grant administrator and Special Assistant to the Provost, as Director of Interdisciplinary Programs)
A normal term on the committee is three years with the occasional possibility of extension at the discretion of the committee. Faculty interested in serving on the committee should contact the chair toward the end of spring semester. The IC Committee nominates the chair from among the INTG faculty and makes it recommendation to the Provost who makes the final appointment. The chair serves two-year terms. The chair in consultation with appropriate administrators nominates new committee members, based in large part upon experience teaching in the program, involvement, and background. The IC Committee will make final selections. The chair is responsible for the calling of committee meetings and the meetings of the IC Faculty, and for setting agendas. In discharging these responsibilities the chair will work closely with appropriate administrators and the IC Committee. The chair also oversees staffing and scheduling of courses, and frequently represents the program in the larger PLU context.
General Objectives, for purposes of course development and assessment (thanks to Susan Brown-Carlton and others for this draft)
Students who complete the seven courses of the program will be able to:
Ann Kelleher’s re-wording of last two items:
5. Develop their own creative and ethically based responses to living in the twenty-first century that generate possibilities for thoughtful action.
Students completing the seven courses of the International Core Program work with faculty to develop a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the rich and diverse traditions of the human past, an appreciation for the thoughts and actions of significant individuals and groups in history, an enduring curiosity about perennial and contemporary problems, an understanding of human dilemmas that is both empathetic and intellectually rigorous, and an ability to contemplate analytically their own position in the world. Towards these goals, students should learn:
Cognitive and Affective Skills to Support the Development of a Complex Critical Consciousness (statement from 9/2000 document, resulting in part from Fall workshops led by Patricia Killen and others):
The comparative approach, international focus, and multi-disciplinary methodology of the International Core constitute an integral and consistently challenging pedagogical context for developing students’ international consciousness. In addition, designing assignments to develop cognitive skills and affective sensibilities in all International Core courses adds a deliberate dimension to the curriculum. Thus, the International Core contributes to the overall goal of helping students to develop the complexity of consciousness necessary to think and act creatively, constructively, and with commitment in the twenty-first century.
Benjamin Bloom’s framework for cognitive skills, understood in a nonhierarchical manner, is a useful conceptualization for selecting materials and designing activities and assignments. Cognitive skills are those activities involved in knowing, understanding, applying information, and analyzing ideas and situations in creative ways. Affective skills refer to habits of mind and sensibilities related to valuing, commitment, capacity to empathize with others, and appropriately involving one’s own and others’ value commitments in analysis and creative thought. Bloom’s taxonomies should not be considered restrictive to courses in the program. They can and should be supplemented by other frames that provide faculty a heuristic structure for considering how courses contribute to students developing complexity of consciousness.
Course assignments and activities should therefore support the development of a more complex consciousness. Helping students to develop this consciousness is part of the justification for a multi-disciplinary, international core. Faculty should select materials, activities, and assignments that are both inherently relevant to the subject matter of courses and that sequentially and cumulatively support students’ development of increasingly complex cognitive and affective skills. 300-level courses should pay particular attention to the synthesis of ethical reflection, evaluation, and commitment. Finally, faculty should make clear to students when explaining assignments and activities what cognitive and affective skills the tasks are aimed at helping them develop.
Who takes the Core, why, majors, post-graduate influences of having taken Core II.
(As written in 9/00 document)
The challenges of the twenty-first century are global in scope, complex in character, and vexingly resistant to singular analyses or simple solutions. General education aimed at preparing people to live creatively is best done through a curriculum that engages the issues of the twenty-first century and helps students to develop the complexity of consciousness required to address those issues. The International Core: Integrated Studies of the Contemporary World provides effective general education through a comparative, multi-disciplinary approach to international issues. This multi-year core program is designed to develop the mutually reinforcing knowledge, skills, and perceptions that will enable students to interact effectively and ethically in the changing contemporary world. The International Core’s design – international, comparative, multi-disciplinary and purposely focused on the development of cognitive skills and affective sensibilities – will enable students to become critical inquirers, to track their way through complex and contradictory information, and to draw appropriately on the concepts and fundamental questions of multiple disciplines in order to understand and address situations and problems.
(As developed during a special workshop, 2002. supported through a DOE grant, and summarized below by Ann Kelleher, grant director)
Course content by level:
General theme: Establish the IC’s approach to discerning historical trends; determine the characteristics of an historical period and processes of transition, focusing on philosophical and religious ideas, social/political/economic structures, science and technology, literature and aesthetics.
Renaissance and Reformations, early Enlightenment, European encounters
with other civilizations: the Arab and Ottoman Empires, the
General theme: Establish the historical bases for the ideas, issues, and institutions characterizing the current world.
Enlightenment and French Revolution, Industrial Revolution, World War I,
as evidenced in another part of the world, such as
Historically pivotal individuals, main ideas introduced in all sections: Darwin, Freud, Marx
General theme: Provide knowledge and intellectual frameworks from various disciplines for constructively thinking about the contemporary world’s general problems.
Periods covered: Post World War II, current world
Historical trends introduced in all sections: role of the
General theme: Consider ethical frameworks and related perspectives on current world issues, the responses formulated by individual students.
Intellectual and Affective Skills by Course Level:
Courses at the various program levels will enable students to develop specific intellectual and affective skills, with the goal of teaching students in such a way that they are provided the opportunity to meet the overall program objectives.
INTC 111 and 112:
Further elaboration on intellectual and affective skills made during the workshop:
Students in INTC 111 should learn to: organize information, accurately communicate/ report on texts (rather than unfounded opinion); write and speak for communication to others with evidentiary support (rather than self expression); honor reason in a censorship free environment, where one is comfortable questioning the professor; cultivate intellectual charity, listen respectfully, agree/disagree and continue discussion
Students in INTC 112 (and to a large extent in 111) should:
1. With regard to critical reading: learn to recognize different kinds of texts and their demands on readers; locate and paraphrase main thesis; look up unfamiliar words, using context as a clue to meaning; recognize and describe structure/organization of text; recognize that words have histories; recognize tone – irony; recognize metaphor, figurative language, non-literal meaning; recognize assumptions of an argument and evaluate its consequences.
2. With regard to writing: learn to develop a thesis/interpretive claim coherently using evidence, which requires that one: 1: know that a thesis is an interpretive claim between obvious fact and meaningless generalization (not a mere topic); develop an argument (by citing and discussing appropriate specific evidence, explaining the relationships among concepts, considering counter-arguments and evidence, and expressing one’s ideas precisely), distinguish between authoritative and non-authoritative sources, know what plagiarism is – appropriately quote, paraphrase, and cite sources.
3. With regard to oral presentations, class discussions: develop the habit of contributing, view contributing as a responsibility; listen actively to others and tailor one’s contributions to flow of discussion; have considered evidence and/or logic to back up statements
Students in 200-level courses should:
1. When integral to the course, produce visual, dramatic, musical, literary, or other creative forms of expression that reflect one’s developing cognitive and affective skills and areas of knowledge, in line with Core II expectations.
2. Interact collaboratively with fellow students in the development of community
3. In discussion, be aware of shifting boundaries, active listening and mediation skills, shifting hegemonies of power within class dynamics as well as in subjects of study.
IV. Specific Program Details
Faculty interested in teaching in the International Core:
PLU faculty from all disciplines including the
Alternative 200-level course equivalencies:
1. Study Abroad. Students in the International Core are encouraged to study abroad. With prior approval, students may receive the equivalent of up to one 200-level course equivalency for study abroad. The approved course or combination of courses must be centered on one or more contemporary world issue (such as the environment, development, gender, racism, and including courses in the expressive arts), be interdisciplinary in approach, and involve an element of comparison among different nationalities and/or ethnic groups.
To obtain credit, students need to obtain a Study Abroad
Equivalency Form from the
Faculty desiring to have their semester or J-Term course
eligible for 200-level equivalency should write to the chair, explaining how
the course meets the above criteria, as well as the learning objectives of the
program. The committee will review and
respond to the request. To date, PLU’s
2. As a component of the recent DOE grant, existing French, German, Spanish, and Norwegian 301 courses (tentatively renamed “Shifting Identities in Global Context: Advanced Language Studies”) have been redesigned to meet the intellectual skill objectives and thematic issues of 200-level INTG courses. Each year, the courses focus on international issues from the perspectives of the linguistic areas of study, to include variously, language and politics (code shifting, questions of national identity), migration (refugees, exile, immigration), religion, neo-colonial economies and world trade, developing tradition and change, women and/or minorities, media, popular culture and art (including its Americanization). Students may receive up to one 200-level course equivalency for such a course.