Course Catalog

The Simmons Education in Context: The Essential Capabilities

Simmons prides itself on outstanding undergraduate programs taught by high-quality faculty. Our commitment to excellence in teaching, small class size, and innovative programs build on founder John Simmons’s original mission to offer an education that would enable women to earn an independent livelihood.

Based on national surveys of employers and graduate schools, the faculty determined a set of critical skills for undergraduate students to achieve upon completion of their Simmons University degree. The skills include: communications, critical thinking and creative problem solving, data analysis and interpretation, ethical leadership, integrative learning, and the navigation of cultural differences. Each required PLAN course develops one or more of these essential capabilities; they are critical to achieving successful employment and post-graduate education in any major or field of study.

Communication – Effective communication develops through iterative experiences across the curriculum. Students should be able to execute the most challenging communication tasks required by a major, manifesting the knowledge, skills, and attitudes characteristic of the chosen discipline. All communication consists of developing and expressing ideas, as well as understanding and applying meaning-making practices in cultural, historical, and institutional contexts. Written, visual, oral, and sonic forms of communication can be synthesized into an integrated work and accessed by reading, listening and viewing.

Critical Thinking and Creative Problem-Solving – Critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills help students succeed in their chosen fields and as citizens and community members. These intellectual abilities are developed through learning experiences in the classroom and laboratory and during internships and educational opportunities outside of the classroom. Creative problem-solving applies critical thinking to answer questions or achieve goals in innovative ways.

Data Analysis and Interpretation – Students apply data analysis and interpretation skills to locate and use quantitative and qualitative data both as citizens and in their major discipline. Data analysis encompasses distinct ways of thinking and quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and techniques, developed through experiences inside and outside the classroom.

Ethical Leadership – Leadership is situational, relational, and behavioral. Any individual, regardless of title or position, may choose to lead when moved by a sense of purpose to foster positive change. Success is largely dependent upon building relationships across diverse people, grounded in self-knowledge (values, ethics, social identity, and life experiences) and context. Leadership development entails identifying that sense of purpose and fostering collaborative relationships, building commitment to common goals, and cultivating people’s ability to contribute.

Integrative Learning – Students’ capacity for integrative learning is central to personal success, social responsibility, and civic engagement. Students face a rapidly changing and increasingly connected world where integrative learning has become a necessity. The ability to make connections across courses and disciplines, over time, between campus and community life, and among multiple perspectives enables students to apply their learning across academic, professional, personal, and social boundaries.

Navigation of Cultural Differences – Navigating cultural differences, both domestically and internationally, relies on understanding the implications of historical and contemporary power structures—social, economic, and political—on diversity, inclusion, and inequality. Students will develop the cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills that support appropriate and effective interaction in a variety of cultural contexts.