Discernment and Discourse


The University Curriculum foregrounds academic reading, writing, and oral expression in the Discernment and Discourse sequence.   The courses in this sequence introduce students to academic thought and communication in seminars that allow students to work closely with faculty in small classes.  All seminars share the goal of assisting students in the development of critical reading, expository and analytical writing, oral communication and research protocols. 

DISC 1311:  Foundations of Written and Oral Discourse. The class will give students practice in the reading, writing, and analytical skills necessary for the successful completion of 1312 and 1313. Students will approach writing as a process of drafting, revising, and editing, and they will work on sentence-level and paragraph-level writing skills as they build toward essay-length writing projects. Students must earn a C- or better.

DISC 1312:  Introduction to Academic Discourse. This course introduces students to a variety of discipline-based modes of inquiry and expression.  The texts students read and create will employ and exemplify the principles of academic discernment and discourse.  Students must earn a C- or better. Prerequisite: DISC 1311 or 550 on the SAT Critical Reasoning or 24 on the ACT English section.

DISC 1313:  Inquiry Seminar. This course is a topic-based seminar through which students continue to develop their critical reading and writing skills, employing analysis, evaluation, synthesis, and/or integration, while learning to employ research protocols for the discipline or disciplines represented in the course.  Students must earn a C- or better. Prerequisite: DISC 1312.

DISC 2305:   Honors Humanities Seminar I.  Insights from literature, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, and science that became major modes of interpreting the world in the 20th century and that define what constitutes knowledge in the 21st century. Open only to students in the University Honors Program. Students must earn a C-or better.

DISC 2306:  Honors Humanities Seminar II.  Study of ethical questions derived from history, literature, psychology anthropology, and philosophy, focused on what constitutes a meaningful life, historical challenges to the bases of ethics, racism, individual freedom and community responsibility.  Students must earn a C- or better. Prerequisite: DISC 2305.

 DISC 1313 and 2305: Student Learning Outcomes

1.   1. Students will state and defend a thesis with adequate attention to analysis and evidence.  
2. Students will demonstrate an understanding of essay and paragraph development and organization.
3. Students will craft sentences with attention to audience, purpose, and tone, as well as sentence variety and diction.
4. Students will demonstrate proper use of grammatically and mechanically correct English.
Students will incorporate and document sources correctly and appropriately.


Discernment and Discourse Policies

Most students will satisfy this requirement by taking DISC 1312 in the fall, and DISC 1313 in the spring.

Students scoring lower than a 550 on the SAT Critical Reasoning or 24 on the ACT English section will begin in DISC 1311. 

Students scoring at or above 550 (VSAT) or 24 (ACT) will begin in DISC 1312. 

Students scoring a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Test and students scoring 5, 6, or 7 on the IB exam will place out of DISC 1312 and begin with DISC 1313.

Students participating in the University Honors Program satisfy this requirement with DISC 2305 and 2306 in the fall and spring of their first year.  

Each term, students must be enrolled in and may not drop Discourse and Discernment until they have completed the requirement.  A minimum grade of C- is required to pass each course.