Apr 19, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [FINAL EDITION]

General Education

About General Education Foundations and Transformation at Widener

Foundations and Transformations - General Education Full Requirements

To accomplish the objectives for a general education at Widener University, students are required to complete:

  1. ASC 101. Thinking Through (3 credits)
  2. English 101. Reading, Thinking, and Writing (3 credits)
  3. Arts and Sciences Foundations Courses
    1. Humanities (9 credits, including one 300-level course)
    2. Science (9 credits, including one science laboratory course)
    3. Social Science (9 credits)
  4. Flex Course (3 credits from any Arts and Sciences course)
  5. ASC 401. Transformations Capstone Course (3 credits)
  6. Knowledge and skills requirements – Completed in courses listed above, courses in the major, or other electives.
    1. Diversity (1 course)
    2. Writing Enriched (4 courses)
    3. Quantitative Reasoning (1 course)
  7. Physical Education (1 credit)
  8. MATH 101 or at least Level 3 on the Mathematics Assessment

General Education Purpose Statement

Widener University cultivates critical, creative, and independent thinking to develop undergraduates who demonstrate intellectual integrity, civic engagement, and potential for leadership. General education promotes awareness and synthesis of different strategies of knowing, questioning, and understanding. Through the integration of experiences both inside and outside the classroom, students learn to act as responsible citizens and to pursue knowledge beyond the boundaries of the university. This is commonly referred to as a liberal education, which is defined by the American Association of Colleges and Universities as:

A philosophy of education that empowers individuals, liberates the mind from ignorance, and cultivates social responsibility. Characterized by challenging encounters with important issues, and more a way of studying than specific content, liberal education can occur at all types of colleges and universities. “General Education” and an expectation of in-depth study in at least one field normally comprise liberal education.

The Foundations and Transformations program at Widener is designed to transform students, to develop ways of being, knowing, and doing that foster the habits of curiosity and creativity, the ability to grapple with complexity and ambiguity, the commitment to responsible citizenship and social justice, and the flourishing of lifelong learning for personal and professional growth.

Foundations and Transformations provides students with a liberal education in the arts and sciences, and the transformative experience of applying these ways of knowing to pressing questions that shape how we live and act in an interconnected world.  

General Education Goals and Objectives

The requirements are designed to help students meet Widener University’s general education goals and objectives.

  1. A liberally educated graduate communicates effectively.
    1. Gives clear presentations before a group.
    2. Writes papers that require locating, analyzing, and formally referencing information sources to support conclusions.
  2. A liberally educated graduate thinks critically.
    1. Makes claims and draws conclusions that require the analysis and evaluation of evidence.
    2. Synthesizes divergent content, methodologies, and models.
    3. Makes and assesses ethical judgments.
    4. Demonstrates an awareness of different points of view and analyzes how these are informed by factors that may include culture, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, gender identity, age, disabilities, language, religion, sexual orientation, or geographical area, among others.
  3. A liberally educated graduate uses quantitative methods effectively.
    1. Solves problems using mathematical methods.
    2. Interprets, makes inferences, and draws conclusions from data.
    3. Determines whether numerical results are reasonable.
  4. A liberally educated graduate has developed a wide range of intellectual perspectives and methodologies.
    1. Evaluates the workings of the natural and physical world using theories and models that can be tested by experiments and observations.
    2. Evaluates social science theories and research methods related to questions of human behavior, mental processes, communication, social and cultural structures, and institutions.
    3. Evaluates philosophical, historical, and aesthetic arguments, evidence, and artifacts.


About the General Education Requirements

ASC 101: Thinking Through (3 credits)

All students at Widener take ASC 101 : Thinking Through during their first year. Each ASC 101 class explores a pressing question - a question of great significance that asks us to engage with the big issues that shape our world, our ways of relating to each other, or our ways of producing and sharing knowledge. All Widener students get to choose which ASC 101: Thinking Through course they take; students are encouraged to look over the wide range of options and select a course that focuses on a question that they care about and want to spend more time exploring. A student’s major will never tell them which questions they have to focus on - ASC 101 is meant to be a chance to explore new ways of thinking.

ASC 101 is also a chance to get to know Widener better and to build a sense of community and belonging on campus. This course is a small, discussion-based seminar, with only 18 students per class (25 if the course is team-taught by two professors). These courses meet in person, two or three times per week, so that students and professors can work closely together. Some sections of ASC 101 are linked to a specific section of ENGL 101, meaning that students take both courses with the same group of classmates. This option offers more opportunities to build connections with peers, as well as coordinated support from the two professors.

ASC 101 asks students to dig into high-stakes questions by drawing on the expertise, scholarship, and intellectual toolkit of faculty from across the College of Arts and Sciences. Students will explore how the discipline and methods presented by the professor(s) can help answer the course question, and consider how different perspectives transform the way we respond to ideas. Classes may feature guest speakers, or special on- or off-campus events that expose students to the range of ways that people can engage with the question under consideration.

All sections of ASC 101 support General Education Goals 1 (centered on communication), 2 (developing critical thinking), and 4 (broadening intellectual perspectives).  In addition, all sections have three common learning objectives.

Students will be able to:

  1. analyze and evaluate a pressing question with attention to students’ own worldviews
  2. engage with multiple perspectives related to a pressing question
  3. differentiate opinions and beliefs from evidence-based claims and recognize that types of evidence vary from subject to subject

ASC 101 should be taken by incoming students in their first fall semester to introduce the types of inquiry-based learning characteristic of a liberal education. Students transferring to Widener with Junior status are not required to take this course.

English 101: Reading, Thinking, and Writing (3 credits)

ENGL 101  helps students build on their previous writing preparation and develop skills to undertake the kind of reading, interpretation, and writing that will be required of them at Widener. Courses focus on expanding each student’s available set of writing tools and techniques, as well as exposing them to written genres and research methods relevant to their undergraduate careers. Each section of ENGL 101 draws on the university’s First Year Theme and invites students to explore that theme through a variety of engaging readings. As part of their ENGL 101 experience, students may participate in special campus events and activities, such as attending a lecture by an invited speaker or discussing a common reading with other students from different sections of the same course.

All students complete the first-year writing course ENGL 101 Reading, Thinking, and Writing, except honors students who complete ENGL 103, which is the Honors Program equivalent. Some sections of ENGL 101 are linked to specific sections of ASC 101, meaning that students take both courses with the same group of classmates. This option offers more opportunities to build connections with peers, as well as coordinated support from the two professors.

Arts and Sciences Foundations Courses

Arts and Sciences Foundations Courses are designed to help students develop the habits of the mind essential to a liberal education: comprehending the world from multiple perspectives; understanding, acquiring, synthesizing, evaluating, and questioning knowledge beyond the boundaries of a single field or discipline; and cultivating an awareness of one’s place within the larger community.

All students are required to complete a minimum of 9 semester hours each in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. A semester hour consists of one hour in class, or two to three hours of laboratory or field work each week for a semester. This requirement is based on the conviction that a baccalaureate degree represents more than expertise in a specific field. Students broaden their knowledge and perspectives by taking courses in academic areas that are devoted to understanding. Students should work closely with advisors in selecting courses appropriate to their interests and academic needs.

Courses taken on a pass/no pass basis may not be used to satisfy the university distribution requirement.

Humanities (9 credits)

Courses in the humanities foster a sense of historical consciousness, aesthetic appreciation, and philosophical judgment. The study of the humanities demands rigorous interpretation and openness to multiple perspectives. Through this program, students develop depth and breadth in their understanding of the human condition.

All students are required to take one 300-level humanities course as part of the humanities foundation. In the humanities, most courses at the 300-level do not have pre-requisites and faculty design these courses to serve the interests and skills of majors and non-majors regardless of class year. 100 and 200-level courses acquaint students with key issues in a field of study, while 300-level courses develop students’ abilities to engage with and contribute to the scholarship of a specific area of inquiry. These 300-level courses cover a rich range of topics and emphasize small class sizes and a discussion-based seminar where students engage with the complexities of different points of view.

Humanities Foundations courses include courses in:

  • Art History
  • Art Studio
  • Creative Writing
  • Dance
  • English (excluding ENGL 100, ENGL 101, ENGL 111)
  • Fine Arts
  • French
  • History
  • Humanities
  • Italian
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Spanish
  • Theater
  • GWS courses when taught by an instructor in the humanities.
  • AFAS courses when taught by an instructor in the humanities.

Science (9 credits, including 1 laboratory)

Awareness of the natural world requires cultivation of the knowledge of and insight into phenomena that affect all life forms. Observation and reflection lead scientists to propose explanations for natural and physical phenomena that have predictive power and are both testable and falsifiable through carefully controlled experimentation. The constant forming, testing, and revising of hypotheses define the process of science and lead to the formation of scientific knowledge. Integral to this process, scientists respect the beauty inherent in the order and diversity of the natural and the physical realms.

Students at Widener University are required to take 9 credits of sciences to learn how scientists acquire, synthesize, evaluate, and question knowledge. In these courses, students develop an understanding of how scientific knowledge is constructed and learn quantitative and qualitative skills necessary to develop models, propose and test hypotheses, and evaluate experimental results. Students learn how to access and clearly communicate scientific information, critically analyze conclusions, and judge the limits of scientific methods. As a result of these experiences, students acquire critical-thinking skills and an understanding of ethical conduct in science, thereby developing their ability to make rational, informed decisions about the use of science and technology in society.

Science Foundations courses include courses in:

  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science (excluding CSCI 101–124)
  • Earth and Space Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Mathematics (excluding MATH 101–110)
  • Physics
  • PSY 355 Biological Psychology
  • Science (excluding SCI 100)

Social Science (9 credits)

Courses in the social sciences develop an appreciation for both the quantitative and qualitative methods for assessing human behaviors and interactions. Research questions are grounded in theoretical assumptions. Social Science Foundations courses include:

  • Anthropology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Economics (EC 101, EC 103, EC 104, and EC 202)
  • Communication Studies (excluding COMS 217, COMS 260, COMS 262, COMS 264, COMS 265, COMS 266, COMS 309, COMS 317, COMS 360, COMS 362, COMS 364, COMS 367, COMS 368, COMS 384, COMS 395)
  • Political Science
  • Psychology (excluding PSY 381, 382, 383, 384, PSY 385, PSY 395, PSY 409, PSY 410, 419, PSY 423)
  • Sociology
  • GWS courses when taught by an instructor in the Social Sciences.
  • AFAS courses when taught by an instructor in the Social Sciences.

Flex Course (3 credits from any Arts and Sciences course)

An additional Arts and Sciences Flex Course gives students the flexibility to explore other disciplines, learn new ways of thinking, and facilitate the completion of a second major, a minor, or a certificate program. This is a course not specified by a student’s major so students are free to select a course of their choice. The Flex course may be an additional Arts and Sciences Foundations course or students may select an interdisciplinary course with African and African American Studies (AFAS); Arts and Sciences (ASC); Digital Media Informatics (DMI); or Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies (GWS) prefix.

ASC 401: Transformations Capstone (3 credits)

This is an upper-level course taken by students with junior or senior status. This course offers students the opportunity to synthesize and reflect on their Foundations and Transformations Program experience. Students will select their specific course by topic, choosing one that they would like to explore in greater depth.

Students in a major that requires more than 129 credits, with no free electives, and is constrained by accreditation requirements may count ASC 401: Transformations Capstone as a Flex course. 


Knowledge and Skills Requirements

Diversity (1 course)

Diversity courses provide students with the opportunity to engage in the study of cultural phenomena (concepts, histories, policies, experiences, etc.) that have typically been left out of traditional US educational settings. These courses often cover new ground for students, exploring systems and structures that are responsible for the mistreatment and marginalization of groups and individuals within and across societies.

Students can expect to find a variety of course offerings and topics that span a broad range of academic departments, disciplines, and programs. Because it is important for students to see through the eyes of other peoples and cultures, to understand the effects of systems of power, privilege, and oppression, and to develop the knowledge to skillfully engage across different contexts, all students are required to take one course that carries the Diversity (D) designation by meeting at least one of the criteria below.

  • Criteria A These diversity courses focus on cultures in the US or abroad that have been marginalized or underrepresented in discussions and courses in US academic settings. Students in these courses will gain exposure to discourses and perspectives that they would be unlikely to study otherwise.
  • Criteria B These diversity courses focus on power structures that lead to the marginalization and oppression of some identity groups within and across societies. Some examples include courses that examine race through the lens of structural racism and racial/ethnic supremacy or courses that examine gender through the lens of patriarchy and misogyny. These courses focus on power structures that exist both within and across various cultures.

Students who transfer in with Junior status are required to take 1 Diversity course.

Writing Enriched (4 courses)

Writing is more than simply a means of communication, and good writing is a skill that should be mastered by all students. Writing is also a means of thinking and learning, and as such it is an important tool that faculty can use as part of the learning process. In addition to ENGL 101, all undergraduate students must complete at least four courses (preferably one per year) that are designated as Writing Enriched. Writing Enriched courses employ a “writing to learn” approach: Students engage more deeply with course material through the writing process while also strengthening their writing skills. Therefore, students should choose courses intentionally in close and informed consultation with their advisers to supplement and complement the major.


  • To facilitate students’ ability to communicate effectively through writing.
  • To provide sustained focus on writing via multiple drafts and assignments as a way to develop both writing and critical thinking skills.
  • To facilitate the discovery of and the development of mastery in a field of study.

Writing Enriched Criteria

  • The course includes a sustained focus on writing as demonstrated through the syllabus, requiring multiple drafts and assignments.
  • Students receive actionable feedback on their writing from the course instructor.
  • Students substantially revise using critical thought and feedback to improve their writing.
  • Students incorporate the feedback from the course instructor in a critical way in subsequent writing.

Transfer students may be required to take fewer than four Writing Enriched courses according to the following schedule:


A student transferring in as a:

Must complete:


4 Writing Enriched courses


3 Writing Enriched courses

Junior and beyond

2 Writing Enriched courses


Transfer students, depending on their major, may be required to take specific courses in order to complete their degree that are also designated Writing Enriched. Consequently, they may need to complete more than the minimum number of Writing Enriched courses listed above.

Program Support—Writing Center

The university maintains a Writing Center to assist students with writing assignments in any course. Professional tutors in the center work individually with students and coordinate their efforts with instructors. Faculty encourage students to use the center from the first draft of an assignment through to the final revision. Call the center at 610-499-4332 for more information.

Quantitative Reasoning (1 course).

Completion of one course designated “Quantitative Reasoning” (QR).

QR courses expect students to

  • use simple mathematical methods from arithmetic, algebra, geometry, or statistics to solve problems
  • determine if numerical results are reasonable
  • recognize the limitations of the methods they have been taught to use 
  • interpret, make inferences, and draw conclusions from data

These goals are a central focus, and emphasis on Quantitative Reasoning is sustained throughout the required course. QR courses are structured so that the emphasis is on students doing the reasoning. The students’ work in these courses takes the form of problem sets, projects, computer programs, field research, lab reports, and similar assignments, and involves a process of growth through opportunities to correct and revise assignments.

Physical Education (1 credit)

Students are required to complete 1 credit of Physical Education.

Physical Education credit include:

  • 0.5 credit 100-level PE courses open to all students
  • 1 credit PE 200-Varsity Sport Participation

Veterans, first-year students, and transfer students who are 21 years of age or older; students transferring to Widener with sophomore or higher status (a minimum of 30 semester hours of approved transfer credit); and students with verifiable medical conditions that preclude their participation in physical education are exempted from this requirement. Exempted students are not required to make up the one credit in lieu of the physical education courses.


The mathematics general education requirements are:

  • MATH 101  or at least Level 3 on the Mathematics Assessment.