Areas of Inquiry requirements

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The Areas of Inquiry provide the organization structure for VCU's General Education Program. To fulfill the Areas of Inquiry requirements, a student must complete 17-18 credits from the identified areas, nine of which will come as a result of fulfilling the Breadth of Knowledge requirements.

Students must take at least one course from each of the four Areas of Inquiry below, and may take no more than two courses with the same four-letter prefix (ex. RELS, MGMT) regardless of the area of inquiry under which they are listed.

To learn more about the Areas of Inquiry, please select the headers below:

These courses will introduce students to the modes of inquiry used in the study of social institutions and human behavior. Students enrolled in these courses will seek to investigate the relationship between the individual and society and the varieties of human psychology and development.

Courses in this area encourage students to:

  • Examine modes of inquiry used in the study of social institutions, patterns of culture, historical narratives, and human behavior
  • Understand and evaluate patterns and processes affecting social organization and distributions of power and resources
  • Investigate the relationship between the individual and society through a diverse range of voices
  • Explore varieties of human psychology or development
  • Compare theories about human society, culture, history, and behavior
  • Examine patterns of inclusion and exclusion, and other forms of social grouping
  • Consider the civic and ethical implications inherent in the study of the human experience

Courses in this area encourage students to examine the circumstances that produce creative work; investigate the criteria used to judge creative work; and consider the role of imagination in expressing the human condition.

Courses in this area encourage students to:

  • Examine the circumstances and choices that influence the production of creative work
  • Investigate, establish, and/or apply criteria used to evaluate creative work
  • Attend and/or participate in creative activities and explore their relevance
  • Analyze how creative work reflects, responds to, and shapes various contemporary and historical contexts
  • Consider the role of imagination in confronting and expressing the human condition
  • Encounter ambiguity and diverse interpretations as aspects of aesthetic inquiry
  • Consider the civic and ethical implications in production, consumption, and access to creative works

Through these courses students will encounter and comprehend cultures and contexts outside the U.S.; develop an understanding of how the world is interconnected; and consider alternative viewpoints among disciplines, histories, and cultures.

Courses in this area encourage students to:

  • Encounter, comprehend, and appreciate cultures and contexts outside the U.S.
  • Develop an understanding of how the world is organized and interconnected
  • Interpret regionally specific social, political, historical, and/or economic issues within the larger global context
  • Recognize how knowledge is constructed differently in various communities
  • Consider alternate viewpoints among disciplines, histories, cultures and groups
  • Explore the complexities of cross-cultural communication and problem-solving
  • Consider their civic and ethical responsibilities as local and global actors

These courses examine how logical and empirical methods can be used to form and revise beliefs; use scientific concepts to describe the world and formulate questions; and model phenomena through the use of mathematics, computer programs, and physical representations.

Courses in this area encourage students to:

  • Explore how logical and empirical methods can be used to form and revise beliefs
  • Apply methods of logical and empirical reasoning to their own beliefs
  • See relations between ideas, both contemporaneous and historical
  • Use and connect scientific concepts to describe the world, formulate questions, and solve problems
  • Consider and compare different applications of evidence-based reasoning
  • Model phenomena in a variety of ways such as through mathematics or the use of computer programs or physical representations
  • Consider the civic and ethical implications of scientific inquiry

Upcoming changes to Foundations of Learning and Areas of Inquiry requirements

The racial literacy requirement was approved as an additional Foundations of Learning course in VCU’s general education program. Therefore, when it goes into effect in the 2023-24 academic year, the total number of Foundations of Learning credits that students are required to complete will rise to 15-16 credits (currently 12-13 credits).

At the same time, the introduction of the racial literacy requirement will also see the number of Areas of Inquiry credits that students are required to complete reduced to 14-15 credits (currently 17-18). Therefore, there will be no increase in the total number of credits in the general education requirements.

However, students will now be required to complete courses from at least three of the four Areas of Inquiry, taking at least three credits in each area. (Currently, all four Areas of Inquiry are required.)