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The Drake Curriculum

The purpose of the Drake Curriculum is to provide students with a meaningful liberal education. Drake students will gain the breadth of knowledge and skills necessary to successfully function in a complex and rapidly changing world. The Drake Curriculum helps to prepare students for meaningful personal lives, professional accomplishments and responsible global citizenship. The Drake Curriculum consists of four components: a First Year Seminar, a set of Areas of Inquiry (AOI) requirements, an experiential learning requirement, and a Senior Capstone. Students are required to complete all four. An optional Honors Program Track is available as an alternative to the Areas of Inquiry requirements. Additional information can be found on the Drake Curriculum web site.

First Year Seminars: All Drake students entering directly from high school or transferring with fewer than 30 hours of college credit must complete a First Year Seminar during their first year of enrollment. First Year Seminars are student-centered learning experiences that involve critical thinking, both written and oral communication skills, and an introduction to information literacy. Through a topical focus, they foster understanding of methods of analysis and creativity.

Areas of Inquiry: The Areas of Inquiry requirements are designed to provide students with a solid introduction to a variety of intellectual fields and a diversity of learning experiences. Students are required to take one course in each Area of Inquiry listed below, with the exceptions of the historical foundations and scientific literacy areas where two courses each are required. In the science area, one course must be on the physical sciences list and the other course must be on the life and behavioral sciences list. One of the two science courses must carry a one-credit lab. Descriptions of each Area of Inquiry are available on the Drake Curriculum Web site.

  • Written Communication
  • Information Literacy
  • Critical Thinking
  • Global and Cultural Understanding
  • Historical Foundations
  • Artistic Experience
  • Scientific Literacy
  • Quantitative Literacy
  • Values and Ethics
  • The Engaged Citizen

Students select courses for each Area of Inquiry from approved course lists. Selections should be made in consultation with the student's academic adviser. With specific exceptions, students and advisers must choose from the approved lists in fulfilling area requirements. The exceptions to this rule involve honors courses, independent study courses, special topics courses, study-abroad courses and transfer courses. Students may apply courses of these types to an appropriate Area of Inquiry requirement with the approval of their adviser. It is mandatory, however, that courses falling into one of these categories must centrally address the goals and expectations of the relevant Area of Inquiry (as specified in the Area description) before they can be approved as fulfilling the area requirement. First Year Seminars may not be counted toward the Areas of Inquiry requirements. Also, a single course can count for no more than one Area of Inquiry. In cases where a given course is listed under two (or more) areas, the course may be counted toward one or the other. Approved course lists for each Area of Inquiry are available on the Drake Curriculum Web site.

Honors Program Track: As an alternative to the Areas of Inquiry requirements, students may fulfill the Drake Curriculum by completing the requirements of the Honors Program Track. Students pursuing the Honors Program Track must still take a First Year Seminar and a Senior Capstone. Students who later decide to drop the Honors Program Track must complete the Areas of Inquiry requirements. (Honors courses already taken may be counted toward appropriate Areas of Inquiry with adviser approval.) Students should consult with their academic adviser before switching to the Honors Program Track.

The Honors Program Track requirements include:

  • One laboratory science course from AOI lists for Scientific Literacy, either physical or life sciences.
  • One course from AOI list for Quantitative Literacy Area.
  • One course from AOI list for Artistic Experience Area.
  • HONR100: Paths to Knowledge (4-credit course).
  • 15 additional credits in the Honors Program.

Completion of the Honors Program Track in the Drake Curriculum is not sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the Honors Program for the designation of "University Honors" on a student's official transcript. To complete the Honors Program, students must complete the Honors Program Track plus the following: successfully complete an Honors Program Senior Thesis/Project and maintain an overall cumulative 3.5 GPA.  More information about the Honors Program can be found on the Honors Program web site.

Experiential Learning Requirement: All Drake students will participate in a significant experiential learning experience. Individual colleges/schools (or divisions/units within colleges, should a college determine that is more appropriate, or other units in the University) with approval from the University Curriculum Committee, will determine what kind of experiential requirement is appropriate for their students and how many credit hours that experience should involve, consistent with meeting three learning outcomes:

  • An ability to reflect on the impact that engagement outside the classroom has on their understanding of liberal education, or on an academic discipline, or on important societal or personal values.
  • An ability to integrate academic knowledge with their experiential learning.
  • Can demonstrate an ability to apply knowledge to new situations.

This requirement will take effect for the entering class of 2014-15, and the list of approved experiences will appear on the Drake Curriculum Web site.

Senior Capstone Experiences: Each Drake University student must complete at least one Senior Capstone experience. Capstone experiences allow each student to demonstrate the capacity to bring information, skills and ideas acquired from the major and the Drake Curriculum to bear on one significant project. Capstone options are designed by individual departments and interdisciplinary programs. Capstones may take many different forms, including seminars, internships, practicums, field work, independent research and other options. Students who are earning double majors are required to meet the capstone requirement of each major. The same capstone may, however, satisfy requirements in more than one major with approval of both departments or programs.

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