Sangamon State and the Blue Memo

The curricular emphases above are grounded in the history of UIS and its predecessor, Sangamon State University. Legislated to be an “innovative institution” at its creation, the campus and its first president, Robert Spencer, set the stage for general education by issuing the “Blue Memo”, so-called for the color of the paper on which it was issued, in December 1970 during the institution’s first year of operation. The “Blue Memo” sets out an educational philosophy that is characterized by a commitment to teaching, what we now call “active” or “student-centered” learning, and a dedication to public affairs, and community service. Dr. Spencer noted in a comment that is just as relevant today as it was 40 years ago, that the many questions on the environmental and urban crises facing our civilization naturally lead to fundamental and more profound questions about the nature of the human community and the meaning of human life itself.

For the complete text to the “Blue Memo”, see the UIS Archives website.

Sangamon State and UIS have always had some form of general education based on the principles established by the founding faculty and administration. For much of its early history, the institution was an upper division institution, catering to junior- and senior-level undergraduates, and so it had upper division general education. Eventually that took the form of a twelve-hour core of courses in three areas: Public Affairs Colloquia, Liberal Studies Colloquia, and Applied Study Terms. The colloquia were interdisciplinary and sometimes team-taught. The Applied Study Terms were the foundation of our internship program today, housed in the Experiential and Service-Learning Programs. The institution has always been known regionally and in higher education circles for the quality and extensiveness of its internship programs.

General Education Today

Our current general education curriculum, launched in Fall 2006, is based on two main principles: life-long learning and engaged citizenship. it was designed to be flexible, easy to transfer into, and distinctive. Its distinctiveness is based on a particular philosophy of liberal education best espoused by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in its statement “What is Liberal Education?”:

Liberal Education is an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest. A liberal education helps students develop a sense of social responsibility, as well as strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills such as communication, analytical and problem-solving skills, and a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings.

General Education provides much of the breadth of a college degree, and it is a curriculum shared by all the undergraduates at UIS. It provides a series of benefits, such as:

  • the ability to use multiple ways of knowing based in academic disciplines;
  • the ability to integrate multiple perspectives;
  • the skills for life-long learning; and,
  • exposure to a world filled with people and experiences that may be different from those with which students are familiar.

The UIS General Education Curriculum helps students gain skills and knowledge needed for the twenty-first century and complements all of our 32 degree programs.

Courses in the program are divided into two categories:

  • Lower division courses in written communication, oral communication, science, math, humanities and social sciences. These courses are sometimes interdisciplinary, and they provide a foundation of knowledge and skills that are crucial for a broad liberal arts education.
  • The Engaged Citizenship Common Experience is designed to help students become aware of their roles in a complex, interdependent set of communities. ECCE categories promote cultural awareness and engagement experiences.

Prior General Education Council Agendas

Goals and Learning Outcomes for Baccalaureate Education (As Approved by the UIS Campus Senate)

By emphasizing scholarship skills in the service of the public good, UIS prepares students for life-long learning and engaged citizenship. UIS prepares students to discover, integrate, apply, and communicate knowledge for the benefit of individuals, families, and communities.

1. Discovery of Knowledge

UIS graduates should be information and communication technology literate, exhibiting a strong proficiency in locating, reflectively comprehending, and synthesizing appropriate college level readings, toward the goal of knowledge creation.

Competencies include:

a. Reading baccalaureate-level materials effectively, reflecting comprehension and synthesis.

b.Exhibiting a knowledge of and ability to effectively locate, evaluate , interpret, and use information.

c. Exhibiting a knowledge of and ability to use information and communication technologies.

2. Integration of Knowledge

UIS graduates should be able to evaluate and integrate information and concepts from multiple disciplines and perspectives.

Competencies include:

a. Engaging in critical thinking by analyzing, evaluating, and articulating a range of perspectives to solve problems through informed, rational, decision-making.

b. Differentiating the approaches that underlie the search for knowledge in the arts, humanities, natural sciences, history, or social and behavioral sciences.

3. Application of Knowledge

UIS graduates should be able to apply knowledge to address meaningful problems and issues in the real world.

Competencies include:

a. Exhibiting a knowledge of and ability to use contemporary technologies.

b. Identifying, interpreting, and analyzing quantitatively presented material and solve mathematical problems.

c. Constructing intellectual projects independently and work effectively in collaboration with others.

4. Communication of Knowledge

UIS graduates should be able to communicate knowledge and ideas effectively both orally and in writing.

Competencies include:

a. Expressing ideas, facts and arguments in a written format that depicts competency in the use of syntax, organization, and style appropriate to the audience.

b. Exhibiting effective oral communication skills, paying attention to content and audience.

5. Engaged Citizenship

UIS graduates should be able to engage in questioning and critical thinking that leads them to explore peoples, systems, values, and perspectives that are beyond their usual boundaries. Students should engage in active and integrative learning to become ethical, responsible, and engaged citizens in a democracy.

Competencies include:

a. Recognizing the social responsibility of the individual within a larger community.

b. Practicing awareness of and respect for the diversity of cultures and peoples in this country and in the world.

c. Reflecting on the ways involvement, leadership, and respect for community occur at the local, regional, national, or international levels.

d. Identifying how economic, political, and social systems operate now and have operated in the past.

e. Engaging in informed, rational, and ethical decision-making and action.

f. Distinguishing the possibilities and limitations of social change.