Foundational Literacies

The Brandeis Core will enable you to focus on learning goals central to your academic and professional success: becoming an effective communicator, researcher and critical thinker. No matter your course of study or professional interests, these bedrock skills will prepare you for a life of learning and mastery.

With the exception of quantitative reasoning, you can fulfill these foundational literacies through courses and/or equivalent experiences within your major.

Writing Intensive

The writing intensive requirement teaches writing as a mode of learning, not simply as a way to articulate what is learned.

Students become familiar with the conventions and intellectual traditions of the discipline of their major and use writing to acquire knowledge in that discipline. All students will satisfy the writing intensive requirement as defined in the requirements for the major.

Through writing assignments, opportunities for revision, focused writing instruction and review of exemplary writing in the discipline, writing intensive assignments further develop writing skills necessary for successful written communication in specific fields of specialization. Students will learn to evaluate and employ disciplinary writing conventions, styles and formats, and how to convey arguments and use evidence and rhetorical strategies for appropriate audiences. Courses numbered in the 90s are not eligible for a writing intensive designation.

How to fulfill the writing intensive requirements

Oral Communication

The oral communication requirement (in courses or equivalent experiences) enhances students' ability to present, communicate and listen effectively in a range of contexts, critically evaluate orally presented information and arguments, and consider specific techniques for using oral language as a communication tool with confidence.

This foundational literacy requirement in the major recognizes that students need to be prepared with varied concrete skills for use in communicating effectively in various fields of study, including (but not limited to) oral presentations, interviews, active debate, discussion facilitation and critique. All students will satisfy the oral communication requirement as defined in the requirements for each major. Courses numbered in the 90s are not eligible for an oral communication designation.

How to fulfill the oral communication requirements

Digital Literacy

The ability to engage in the digital world plays an increasingly important role in intellectual life. Every discipline has been affected by the digital revolution in its own way.

Students will master the critical digital resources and techniques relevant to the scholarly or creative endeavors of their discipline. All students will satisfy the digital literacy requirement as defined in the requirements for the major.

Learning outcomes for digital literacy include acquiring one or more of the following abilities:

  • To evaluate the validity of digital sources.
  • To create and use digital media.
  • To analyze, present and reason about large sets of data.
  • To generate or utilize appropriate software in the discipline.
  • To become adept at utilizing data bases, as defined by the major.

Courses numbered in the 90s are not eligible for a digital literacy designation.

How to fulfill the digital literacy requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

All students will take one course that is designated as meeting the quantitative reasoning requirement, which was established to develop students’ ability to collect, summarize and analyze numerical data; to make abstract concepts operational; and to think critically about the accuracy and soundness of conclusions based on date or on mathematical models.

Quantitative reasoning courses usually embed methodological training in their subject matter. These courses from different disciplines vary widely in the skills that are emphasized, but they usually include one or more of the following:

  • Learning to read, construct, interpret and evaluate tables, graphs and charts.
  • Developing quantitative measures of physical, behavioral or social phenomena.
  • Using mathematical models to express causal relationships and to explore the implications of changed assumptions or proposed solutions to problems in the physical or social world.
  • Collecting and organizing numerical data from archives, surveys, lab experiments or other sources.
  • Assessing the limitations of research, such as the reliability and validity of measures, adequacy of experimental design, sample size and quality and alternative hypothesis and interpretations.
  • Testing hypotheses using experimental or statistical controls.

How to fulfill the quantitative reasoning requirements

Staff at the Quantitative Skills Center are happy to help with introductory math or refreshers on high school math.

2019-20 Faculty Committees

Writing Intensive Committee

Name Department
James Mandrell, Chair Romance Studies
Rick Alterman Computer Science
Karen Desmond Music
Maura Farrelly American Studies
George Hall Economics
Albion Lawrence Physics
Teresa Mitchell Psychology

Oral Communication Committee

Name Department(s)
Jennifer Cleary, Chair Theater Arts
Tory Fair Fine Arts
Jerome Tharaud English
Rebecca Torrey Mathematics

Digital Literacy Committee

Name Department
Tim Hickey, Chair Computer Science
John Burt English
Robert Duff Music
Alice Kelikian History
Dmitry Kleinbock Mathematics

Quantitative Reasoning Committee

Name Department(s)
Paul Miller, Chair Biology, Neuroscience
Xiaodong Liu Psychology
Rebecca Torrey Mathematics
John Wardle Physics