A broad education prepares students to do anything because nothing in a 21st century world can be understood through the lens of a single discipline. In the College, students don't just absorb information – the curriculum teaches them to analyze, communicate and transform facts into knowledge that then gets applied within a real world context. Our faculty has designed a curriculum that encourages students to explore important topics through multiple lenses so that they understand how to approach complicated issues.
As part of the College’s General Requirement, students choose one course from each of seven Sectors of Knowledge. These Sectors allow students to tailor their own liberal arts education while gaining valuable knowledge across a broad spectrum of disciplines. Topics range from Indian philosophy to bioethics and geopolitics, and after completing a few of these interesting courses, many students even change directions and begin a new field of study they never considered before.
While exploring the Sectors, students also encounter six Foundational Approaches that provide skills you’ll use no matter the major or career path after Penn. As an example, an employer who wants to bring Green energy to China would be very interested in an Urban Studies major who took Mandarin to fulfill the language requirement. Obviously the student's language skils would be useful, but s/he also brings an understanding of global warming and the use of quantitative data, acquired from the Sectors and Foundations, in addition to more specific knowledge learned through the Urban Studies major.
Regardless of major, students leave Penn with tangible skills in problem solving, critical and creative writing, public speaking and quantitative analysis that they will apply to any future study or career. And all majors in the College complement this interdisciplinary exploration that begins with the General Requirement. Seemingly traditional majors like History and English encourage learning from other disciplines like political science and sociology, while explicitly interdisciplinary majors such as Biological Basis of Behavior; Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies; and International Relations integrate courses from multiple fields of knowledge as core components.