Introduction: What is Cornerstones?

The Cornerstones General Education Program is an experimental General Education curriculum designed to provide students with a foundational, liberal arts-focused core based on three categories of course experiences:

The Cornerstones:  two linked courses in First (FYEP 101 and FYEP 190) and Sophomore Years (SYEP 201 and SYEP 202). The first-year courses are thematic, often incorporating contemporary issues as a way to hone academic reading and writing skills and abilities while learning effectively in collaborative classroom communities. The second-year courses build on these experiences, asking students to explore “big enough questions” while engaging with PLU themes around diversity, justice, and sustainability, civic engagement, and vocation.  

A Distributive Core:  the full range of the liberal arts are represented through courses taken in the Humanities (English, Languages, Philosophy, and Religion), the Social Sciences (Anthropology, Economics, History, Psychology, Sociology, Social Work), the Arts (Art & Design, Music, Theatre), the Natural Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Geosciences, Physics), and Mathematics. Students will take one course in each of these categories.

A Minor: a minor in the Humanities (English, Philosophy, Languages and Literatures, or Religion), Humanities-focused Social Sciences (Anthropology and History), or Interdisciplinary Studies (Children’s Literature & Culture, Chinese Studies, Environmental Studies, Global Studies, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Publishing and Printing Arts, Scandinavian Area Studies, or Women’s & Gender Studies) provides students with an opportunity to take a closer look at a particular discipline in ways that complement and extend their intended major.

Additionally, in the final year of the program (year three), Cornerstones students will submit artifacts built on these experiences and reflections in an online e-portfolio. This e-portfolio will be developed over all three years in the program, but will culminate in a 1 credit e-portfolio design and reflection course taken during the student’s third year (fall or spring).

While each course in the Cornerstones program will have unique learning goals, it is important to note that the program itself has five central learning objectives:

Methods of Inquiry: Students will demonstrate understanding of a range of disciplinary methodologies and how these methods are used to create, evaluate, and make use of knowledge; they will account for the assumptions and consequences of different perspectives in developing answers to complex questions.

Expression and Dialogue: Students will communicate clearly and effectively in oral, written, and digital modes, adapting their communications to various audiences using the appropriate media, convention and/or style.

Citizenship and Community: Students will identify issues of public concern within specific cultural contexts, acknowledge conflicting ideas, principles, and values, and explore strategies for implementing cooperative actions that address local, national, and/or global circumstances.

Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability: Students will demonstrate a critical understanding of diversity, justice, and sustainability (as well as the interrelatedness between these three concerns) via the examination of social, political, and economic power in local and global contexts and empathic engagement with the perspectives/contributions of diverse groups of people.

Vocation: Students will explore vocation by demonstrating a commitment to “intellectual and affective development,” by embracing questions of “purpose, faith, and fulfillment,” and by questioning the nature of and value of service in every context of human experience.

Each course in the program will engage with several of these larger learning goals. Through reading, coursework, discussion, and reflection, Cornerstones students will consider the definitions and intersections of these objectives with one another, across disciplines and perspectives. Commit them to memory now!