In satisfying the distribution requirements, students become acquainted with a broad range of subject matter and points of view among disciplines in the college and explore areas that may be entirely new to them. Or, to look at it another way, as first-year students explore subjects that interest them, they begin to satisfy distribution requirements. Consequently, first-year students should take courses to prepare for possible majors and to explore subjects new to them and take no course only in order to satisfy a distribution requirement. Although students may complete distribution requirements over eight semesters, they can take advanced courses in subjects they (perhaps unexpectedly) find intriguing only if they have completed the introductory prerequisites. Consequently, students should not postpone satisfying distribution requirements until the last semesters. Once sure of a major, students should consider which distribution requirements are yet unfulfilled and how to fulfill them with courses that complement their overall program. Courses in the major may be applied to the distribution requirements unless prohibited by one of the restrictions noted under restrictions on applying AP credit, transfer credit, and Cornell courses to distribution requirements.
Students must complete four courses in science and quantitative reasoning, identified below under the categories Physical and Biological Sciences (PBS-AS/PBSS-AS) and Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning (MQR-AS). In addition, they must complete five courses of 3 or more credits each from four of the five categories of courses in the humanities and social sciences with no more than three in the same department. The five categories of courses fulfilling the distribution requirements in humanities and social sciences are: Cultural Analysis (CA-AS), Historical Analysis (HA-AS), Knowledge Cognition and Moral Reasoning (KCM-AS), Literature and the Arts (LA-AS), and Social and Behavioral Analysis (SBA-AS). How an individual course is categorized is indicated with the appropriate abbreviation in its course description.
It is important to recognize that only courses with the proper designation in the Courses of Study can be used toward fulfilling the distribution requirements in Arts and Sciences. Some topics courses and courses offered through the Society for the Humanities, among others, do not count toward distribution. Unless otherwise specified, variable credit courses, including independent study courses, may not be used for distribution credit.
Students wishing to take an Arts and Sciences course that does not have a rubric assigned to it should consult their advising dean to ascertain the status of the course and see if it has, in fact, been assigned any distribution rubric. Students may not petition to change the rubric of any given course, nor may any faculty member change the rubric of a course for an individual student. Faculty members wishing to change the rubric for a course they teach must petition the Educational Policy Committee for a change in rubric, and that rubric must then be applied to the course for all students in the course.
Cultural Analysis (CA-AS):
Courses in this area study human life in various cultural contexts through interpretive analysis of individual behavior, discourse, and social practice. Topics include belief systems (science, medicine, religion), expressive arts and symbolic behavior (visual arts, performance, poetry, myth, narrative, ritual), identity (nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality), social groups and institutions (family, market, community), power and politics (states, colonialism, inequality).
Historical Analysis (HA-AS):
Courses in this group interpret continuities and changes—political, social, economic, diplomatic, religious, intellectual, artistic, scientific—through time. The focus may be on groups of people, dominant or subordinate, a specific country or region, an event, a process, or a time period.
Knowledge, Cognition, and Moral Reasoning (KCM-AS):
Courses in this area investigate the bases of human knowledge in its broadest sense, ranging from cognitive faculties shared by humans and animals such as perception, to abstract reasoning, to the ability to form and justify moral judgments. Courses investigating the sources, structure, and limits of cognition may use the methodologies of science, cognitive psychology, linguistics, or philosophy. Courses focusing on moral reasoning explore ways of reflecting on ethical questions that concern the nature of justice, the good life, or human values in general.
Literature and the Arts (LA-AS):
Courses in this area explore literature and the arts in two different but related ways. Some courses focus on the critical study of artworks and on their history, aesthetics, and theory. These courses develop skills of reading, observing, and hearing and encourage reflection on such experiences; many investigate the interplay among individual achievement, artistic tradition, and historical context. Other courses are devoted to the production and performance of artworks (in creative writing, performing arts, and media such as film and video). These courses emphasize the interaction among technical mastery, cognitive knowledge, and creative imagination.
Social and Behavioral Analysis (SBA-AS):
Courses in this area examine human life in its social context through the use of social scientific methods, often including hypothesis testing, scientific sampling techniques, and statistical analysis. Topics studied range from the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes of individuals to interpersonal relations between individuals (e.g., in friendship, love, conflict) to larger social organizations (e.g., the family, society, religious or educational or civic institutions, the economy, government) to the relationships and conflicts among groups or individuals (e.g., discrimination, inequality, prejudice, stigmas, conflict resolution). Please note that CRP 1100 (The American City) and CRP 1101 (Global City) satisfy SBA-AS.
Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning (MQR-AS):
Courses satisfying this requirement help students develop the skills to solve problems through understanding abstract, logical relationships. Such skills include mathematical analysis of data, modeling natural and manmade systems, and creating algorithms essential to computation. These courses explore specific quantitative methods, strategies for applying quantitative reasoning in diverse areas, and the intrinsic elegance of mathematics.
In completing four courses in science and quantitative reasoning, students must take at least one course from the “Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning List” below.
Physical and Biological Sciences (PBS-AS/PBSS-AS):
Courses satisfying this requirement provide an appreciation of how science generates and categorizes knowledge about nature, explore the relevance of science to society, develop proficiency in techniques of the natural sciences, and assess the limitations and strengths of science as a mode of inquiry. These courses expose students to both the process and substance of science and introduce them to the frontiers of contemporary research in the natural sciences.
In fulfilling the four courses in science and quantitative reasoning, students must take at least two science courses. At least one of these must be from the “Physical and Biological Sciences Primary List” below.