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 certain exceptions 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, ordinarily by the end of the seventh semester.

For classes and credit requirements for the Distribution Requirement areas, see the most current catalog.

Distribution Requirements – Learning Outcomes

1. Cultural Pluralism – Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to do one or more of the following:

  • Engage with ideas and people that expand one's cultural perspectives
  • Articulate how different cultural backgrounds affect interactions or relationships with others
  • Articulate complex relationships arising from the intersection of various aspects of culture, such as language, gender, history, values, politics, religious practices, and unequal distributions of power and resources
  • Navigate differences by drawing on relevant cultural frames of reference and adapting perspectives accordingly
  • Apply different methodological and theoretical approaches to interpret cultural difference

2. Fine Arts – Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to do one or more of the following:

  • Solve problems in creative ways
  • Recognize the techniques used in at least one art form
  • Understand different theoretical approaches to artistic production
  • Develop their ability to express themselves artistically
  • Critically analyze their own and others' artistic work

3. Humanities – Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to do one or more of the following:

  • Read texts, be they literary, philosophical, artistic, religious, or material in nature, with precision and generosity
  • Analyze and interpret texts with precision, assessing their form and content both on the texts' own terms and through critical lenses informed by other texts
  • Understand how language, genre, cultural and historical context can shape a text and our interpretation of it
  • Effectively communicate, through written and spoken words, insights drawn from the works they are reading and interpreting
  • Recognize and appreciate the aesthetic, moral, and linguistic dimensions of complex problems

4. Quantitative Analysis – Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to do one or more of the following:

  • Perform computations associated with a model and make conclusions based on the results
  • Represent, communicate, and analyze ideas and data using symbols, graphs, or tables
  • Analyze and interpret data using statistical methods

5. Sciences – Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to do one or more of the following:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with one or more scientific methods of inquiry
  • Articulate fundamental theories in a science using precise terminology of the field
  • Formulate a hypothesis, given a problem or questions, and design a valid experiment to test it
  • Collect, interpret, and analyze scientific data
  • Apply the principles of scientific inquiry to civic and personal issues

6. Social Sciences - Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to do one or more of the following:

  • Compare and contrast social institutions, structures, and processes across a range of historical periods, cultures, and societies around the globe
  • Analyze complex behavior and relationships within and across individuals and social contexts
  • Demonstrate familiarity with social science methods in the context of explaining or predicting individual and collective behavior and decision-making
  • Apply social science principles to personal, social, and/or organizational issues