Rationale for University Studies
The University has made a Commitment to Student Learning, which is expressed in this statement:
A University of Massachusetts Dartmouth education is a foundation from which graduates continually engage and impact their community, both locally and globally. In all aspects of their lives, UMass Dartmouth graduates skillfully locate, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information and can communicate their knowledge effectively and creatively. They have depth in a field of study and broad knowledge across many areas of inquiry, and they continue after graduation to explore and to acquire understanding within and beyond their field of study. UMass Dartmouth graduates think critically and possess the confidence to integrate and apply their learning to solving complex problems. They have excellent interpersonal skills and a sense of purpose. Guided by empathy and integrity, UMass Dartmouth graduates respond constructively to changing personal, professional and societal challenges in a diverse world.
These outcomes are an important part of a liberal education. A liberal education is one that is not just practical or useful—it goes beyond basic job training and embraces learning for its own sake. A liberal education helps students adapt to a rapidly evolving job market while also giving them the perspectives and habits of mind to have reflective and engaged lives.
These outcomes are not easily achieved. To assure students get there, the University provides four sets of experiences to students while they are at UMass Dartmouth. First, students engage beyond the classroom in the various activities that don’t carry course credit but can have transformative effects. These include dorm life, student groups and clubs, on-campus programming and even student employment. Second, students declare a major in a specific field of study. The major is an important part of the university experience, as it provides an opportunity for comprehensive and integrative learning. But, the major is not the only part of the academic curriculum that helps students achieve the outcomes to which UMass Dartmouth is committed. A third set of experiences comes from curricular requirements in each of the Colleges, which relate to the special demands and competencies in different areas of the university.
The fourth, and perhaps the most important, way in which the University helps its students achieve these outcomes is through the University Studies program. By its design, University Studies introduces students to a breadth of learning, teaches them to think analytically and critically, guides them toward mastery of communication, develops their ability to research and learn independently and provides the foundation to engage in their communities in constructive ways throughout their lives.