University Studies Advisory Committee

Historical and Philosophical Approaches


This document provides a description of the Historical and Philosophical Approaches component of University Studies. In so doing, it differentiates between common component-level student learning outcomes and discipline-specific course-level learning outcomes, offering examples of both types. The goal is to encourage the development of challenging and varied University Studies courses that share common assessable student learning outcomes.


This component of the University Studies program includes disciplines that promote student understanding and analysis of the historical and philosophical bases of local and worldwide political, social, and cultural realities and the ethical perspectives that motivate individuals and populations. The study of history allows students to analyze change over time and to employ analytical skills in using data and other evidence to explain and interpret such change. Likewise, investigating texts outlining a variety of philosophical and religious positions prompts student to reflect and critically assess the implications of adhering to particular perspectives, cultivates openness to the positions of others, and assists them to develop a self-reflective ethical foundation that informs their relationships and conduct. Courses in the Historical and Philosophical Approaches component will introduce students to the major interpretative methodologies used in the study of history, philosophy, or religion; prompt students to read with insight and detachment, and represent the positions of others accurately in speech and/or writing; and foster students' abilities to critically analyze theories about religious phenomena, philosophical traditions, and/or historical events, including those of the non-Western or non-canonical authors.


The following are the Common Student Learning Outcomes for Historical and Philosophical Approaches. These are aligned with the UNCW Learning Goals. Each course in this category must address all of the Common Student Learning Outcomes for the category, and list these Common SLOs along with course-specific SLOs in the course syllabus. Proposals for inclusion in the category will describe the opportunities which will be provided for students to learn the outcome (readings, class discussion and/or activities, applied projects) and list the specific sources of evidence (exams, papers, projects, quizzes, etc.) that will be used to determine the level of student understanding.

The student will:

  • HPA 1. Describe and explain various historical, philosophical, or religious facts, themes, and issues of global human experience of the past and/or present. [Foundational Knowledge, Inquiry, Information Literacy]
  • HPA 2. Analyze and interpret evidence to contextualize historical, philosophical or religious events or positions critically, using appropriate disciplinary methodologies or approaches. [Information Literacy, Critical Thinking]
  • HPA 3. Demonstrate through the ability to represent accurately and analyze critically the positions of others an understanding of the historical, philosophical, or religious construction of differences and similarities over time, within and between groups, regions, or ideological perspectives/traditions. [Diversity, Critical Thinking, Inquiry, Global Citizenship]


Students are required to take six hours from this component, including at least two courses with different prefixes.