Liberal education values intellectual curiosity and an approach to learning informed by multiple perspectives. The General Studies Program is the primary means of achieving such breadth and perspective.
The program consists of Encounters (The First-Year Experience) and the Distribution Requirements. The First-Year Experience provides both an integration of varieties of knowledge and a significant context for thought and written expression. Through the Distribution Requirements, students gain insights into disparate areas of knowledge and ways of knowing emphasized in different disciplines, while also coming to understand the ways in which disciplines often overlap or merge with one another. Students are encouraged to explore connections and divergences between fields and approaches to knowledge through their distribution studies. Courses in each area will vary in the emphasis they give to the elements described and in the approach they take to their study.
All students, with the exceptions noted below for transfer students, are required to successfully complete the two-semester sequence of the First-Year Experience (General Studies 145, 146) during their first year of study at Whitman College. General Studies 245 is optional. In addition, the Distribution Requirements must be completed.