The requirements

General education requirements for the Class of 2011 and beyond

A Bates Education is structured around a major, General Education requirements, and other elective courses. Some students declare two majors; many declare a major and minor.

The Goals of General Education at Bates

  • To foster a comparative appreciation of how the several disciplines function and what they can teach us. This goal is met through the two General Education concentrations each student takes in addition to the major.
  • To help every graduate to meet the challenge of writing correctly and persuasively. This goal is met by a series of three writing-attentive courses taken at various points in a student’s Bates career.
  • To ensure that all of our students have had formal instruction at the college level in the methods and findings of the sciences and in quantitative analysis. This goal is met by taking three distinct courses that call for scientific reasoning, develop quantitative literacy, and provide a laboratory experience.
  • To ensure depth of knowledge in a field or discipline through a major.

The General Education requirements include the following types or groups of courses:

1. Two four-course concentrations

Each student successfully completes two General Education concentrations. A concentration consists of four courses chosen from a faculty-designed menu that is structured on the basis of a clearly articulated organizing principle. Some concentrations may include relevant co-curricular experiences such as significant community service, orchestra, chorus, theatrical productions, or volunteer work.

Concentrations may focus on a particular issue or topic or area of inquiry identified by several professors working across different disciplines; examples include “Environment, Place, and History” and “Public Health.”

Concentrations may also be formed within a single department or program; examples of these include “Chinese Language” and “Philosophy.”

If a student elects a second major, it counts as one of the two required concentrations. If a student elects a minor, it counts as one of the concentrations.

2. Three writing-attentive courses

Each student successfully completes three writing attentive courses, one at the first-year level [W1], one at the sophomore or junior level [W2], and one at the senior level, usually the senior thesis [W3]. W courses help students refine their writing skills as they move through their Bates career, so that they are well-prepared to undertake significant writing for a senior thesis or capstone project.

3. Three courses focused on scientific reasoning, laboratory experience, and quantitative literacy

Each student completes: a) one course that focuses on scientific reasoning [S], which may or may not have a laboratory; b) one course that includes a regularly scheduled laboratory component [L]; c) one course focused on quantitative literacy [Q]. Though many Bates courses fulfill two or three of these requirements, the requirements must be met by three distinct courses.

Goals and Objectives for S and L Courses

S Course (meets 3 of the 4 critieria below)

  1. Demonstrate scientific thinking.
  2. Demonstrate understanding of the development of theories, especially those used to describe the phenomena of the empirical world.
  3. Learn reasoning skills  to derive conclusions which are based upon scientific evidence.
  4. Learn the skill of critiquing and evaluating scientific evidence and its limits.

L course (meets 3 of the 4 criteria below)

  1. Engage in the design of experiments or in making their own measurements and observations.
  2. Engage in the consideration of the factors which render data or observations valid for use as scientific evidence.
  3. Critically evaluate data or observations and think critically about the conclusions that can be drawn from the data or observations.
  4. Learn about predictability and reproducibility of outcomes, based upon prior measurements or observations.

Goals and Objectives for Q Courses

  1. Develop facility with quantitative reasoning and methods.
  2. Employ mental estimates.
  3. Understand the role of mathematics and statistics in scientific inquiry and technology.
  4. Understand the role of mathematics and statistics in the public realm.
  5. Analyze and critique quantitative evidence.
  6. Question assumptions and recognize quantitative fallacies.
  7. Use mathematical tools in context.
  8. Adapt to changes in notation, problem-solving and performance standards depending on the context.
  9. Increase capacity to solve quantitative problems they are likely to encounter in daily life.