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Skills for the 21st Century

Academic Knox

KEY COMPETENCIES: OK, so this is the most prescriptive part of a Knox education. But there's a reason for it. At the beginning of a new century it is apparent that the one thing for which we all need to be prepared is change. How does one prepare for change? The collective wisdom of the Knox faculty is that there are certain skills that will serve all students, regardless of major and career, in the new century. Our recent graduates agree. These include skills to communicate effectively both through writing and speaking, to understand the language of numbers, to utilize information technology effectively, to understand the nature of human diversity, and to know a second language.

The writing competency requires students to pass three "writing-enhanced" or "W" courses. One of those is FP. A second will be a designated "W" course in your major. The third will be any other designated "W" course. "W" courses are ones in which writing is an integral part of the learning that occurs in the course, regardless of the subject matter, and where the instructor will pay special attention to helping you improve your writing skills. "W" courses are listed in the Catalog.

An educated person should be able to argue persuasively and make oral presentations effectively. The oral presentation competency is met through one or more designated courses in each major where special attention is paid to presentation techniques appropriate to that field. A list is available in the College Catalog. Thus, meeting the course requirements for your major will ensure that you acquire the appropriate oral presentation skills.

While there are some general technology competencies that all persons should have, most major fields have their own special tools and techniques for the use of specialized digitally-based data sources and sometimes for other special instrumentation. Thus, each major includes courses that ensure its students acquire information literacy and the informed use of technology appropriate to that field. Like oral presentation skills, then, completing the course requirements for your major will ensure you acquire these skills.

The quantitative key competency has two parts. In the first part you are establishing proficiency in mathematics at a level at least through advanced high school math. Sufficiently high math ACT or SAT scores, or a course in the Mathematics Department, satisfy this. The second part concerns the use of quantitative reasoning and problem solving, either in or out of the Mathematics Department. Courses that qualify are listed in the Catalog with the designation "QL." Note that passing any mathematics course above Math 121 will simultaneously satisfy both proficiency and literacy.

Competence in a second language is demonstrated by passing at least one course in a non-native language at the 103 level or above. Placement tests which you may have taken over the summer or at the beginning of your first year will determine which level is an appropriate starting point for you. (Even if you are placed above a 103-level course, you still need to earn at least one credit.) Finally, certain courses have been designated as "DV" or diversity courses. These are classes that focus on understanding the nature of cultural, political and other differences that create diversity among humankind. This knowledge is important in a new century where all of us work and live within increasingly diverse populations. A list of DV courses appears in the College Catalog.

TECHNICAL STUFF: More on Key Competencies

Academic Knox Index