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Washington State University
UCORE: University Common Requirements Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

Roots of Contemporary Issues [ROOT]

Course designator within the area of First-year Experience

As the academic centerpiece of WSU’s First-Year Experience, Roots of Contemporary Issues (HIST 105 or 305) must provide a strong intellectual foundation for college learning, upon which students can build for the rest of their careers. ROOT is among the first courses students take at WSU, and introduces students to more learning goals than do other UCORE courses. The course examines the historical roots of global issues that affect human life in the 21st century, including environmental change, globalization, inequality, competing systems of knowledge, and conflict.

The HIST 105 and HIST 305 syllabi, instruction, and assessments are all coordinated by the RCI Program Director, Assistant Director, and Curriculum Coordinator. History 105 is a single course for all freshmen, with the 305 upper-division version for transfer students with at least 45 credits but without a Direct Transfer Agreement (DTA); thus, ROOT is not a category with multiple courses.

In particular, ROOT addresses as fundamental learning outcomes:

  • Integrative learning by introducing students to how historical understanding enriches allied disciplinary approaches to critical global issues that affect human life in the 21st century, including environmental change, globalization, inequality, diversity perspectives, and conflict. Individual instructors determine on which global issues to focus their sections.
  • Information literacy by introducing all students to the library and digital scholarship resources of the university, and by requiring them to complete a scaffolded and assessable research assignment that demonstrates use of those resources.
  • Critical and creative thinking through primary source analysis, introduction to key scholarly debates, and practice formulating appropriate analytical questions. Corresponding assignments must help students develop confidence in choosing, evaluating, and interpreting sources and in forming arguments about them.
  • Written and oral communication through written work evaluated not just for its analytical effectiveness but for thesis development and academic writing skills. Students also develop oral communication skills through small-group discussion and debate (in person or online).
  • Multiple cultural, political, and disciplinary perspectives so that students are capable of engaging with the diversity of the human experience, across both time and space.
  • Note: ROOT must incorporate academic writing and library use as part of the instructional activities that contribute to meeting the Information Literacy learning goal.

Given its special position within the curriculum, the ROOT course carries a strong responsibility for baseline evidence of student learning. Assessment reports from previous years are available from the RCI program’s annual assessment process and UCORE key assessments.

View approved ROOT courses