Course Proposal Guidelines

Increasingly, communication in the modern age depends less on speech and the written word and more on visual media. Images can be extremely effective tools for conveying information and mood, and it is important for today’s college graduate to appreciate the power—for good and ill—of visual media. As part of the general education curriculum the demonstration of a basic understanding of the techniques, history, and interpretation of the conventions of visual culture will be by successful completion of a course that meets the following criteria:

  • provides a foundation for a historical understanding of visual conventions, including both western and non-western cultures.
  • introduces the grammar and expressive potential of visual forms, applies rigorous methodologies developed by social sciences, sciences, and humanities for the study of perception and interpretation of the visual world.
  • requires students to be makers as well as interpreters, i.e. through the fabrication of visual essays and statements using new or traditional media.
  • prepares the student to view and understand information presented in modes used in a variety of disciplines and areas.

Source:Adapted from Report and Recommendations, IUSB Task Force on General Education (March 2003).

Guidelines for Developing a Visual Literacy Course

Visual Literacy has been recognized within a growing number of academic disciplines as a necessary component of a comprehensive education. Of the seven literacies included in the IUSB General Education plan, “Visual Literacy” connotes the greatest variety of interpretations. A review of relevant terms is therefore useful here.

  • Visual Culture is the field of study devoted to visual images and messages. It is “a community of cultural and social practices that communicates meaning via mediums like television, advertising, fashion, dance, architecture, scientific imagery, news, photography, painting, language, and so forth.”
  • Visual Literacy is the ability to understand meaning in a visual message/image. It becomes the student’s “ability to read, perceive, understand, create/produce, use, and appreciate visual images in a variety of settings.”
  • Visual Communication refers to the techniques used to create these messages. More specifically, it is “the deliberate arrangement of visual images, with or without text, using the principles and elements of graphic design in order to communicate an intended, or unintended, message.”
  • Visual Media focuses on the media that transmit visual messages, including (but is not limited to) television, film, books, newspapers, advertising, dance, architecture, songs, computer programs (e.g., PowerPoint, Photoshop, etc.), and so forth.

General Characteristics

Visual representations that transmit data, communicate information, construct knowledge, and/or express emotion are subjects of study in many disciplines. Although courses that fulfill the requirement for Visual Literacy may be taught in a variety of disciplines under various course numbers, any such course must promote general skills acquisition through study of the role of images in a variety of disciplines or with reference to knowledge, forms, and practices familiar to a variety of disciplines. The course should promote an understanding of visual media as a means of understanding the world and should prepare students to apply methodologies derived from the study of visual literacy in future research, classroom activities, and everyday life.

Visual Literacies Course Listing >>

General Characteristics

Under the General Education curriculum, all IU South Bend students enrolled in baccalaureate degree programs will be required to complete four courses in the Common Core.

These courses should:

  • Allow students to explore content in a particular discipline using modes of inquiry common to a wider family of disciplines;
  • Be at least modestly interdisciplinary;
  • Address one or more ethical issues pertinent to the course content;
  • Include a significant level of instruction in at least one of the fundamental literacies (writing, speaking, critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, computer literacy, information, visual literacy).

Student Learning Outcomes

After taking a General Education Literary and Intellectual Traditions Common Core Course, students will be able to...

  1. Construct an interpretation or argument based on texts from literary, historical, or philosophical traditions;
  2. Analyze or evaluate texts in their cultural, intellectual, and/or historical contexts;
  3. Apply general concepts, terms, and/or methods of analysis to the particular course topic

Specific Characteristics

The humanities represent great traditions of inquiry into the human condition. The themes dealt with in literature, philosophy, history, and related disciplines often overlap. This characteristic of the humanities makes them especially amenable to interdisciplinary study. The various versions of this course will typically take advantage of this overlap in content, by focusing on a theme that can be addressed, augmented, and enriched using more than one disciplinary perspective.

The Literary and Intellectual Traditions course must have the following specific characteristics:

  1. The course must explore one of the following themes: ideas of self, ideas of truth, ideas of beauty, ideas of community, ideas of nature, or ideas of conflict.
  2. The course must develop an analysis of at least one primary text in 100-level courses; and two or more primary texts in 300-level courses.
  3. Instruction must include reflection on the benefit of developing interdisciplinary approaches to the course theme.
  4. The course must address ethical issues that emerge from the theme as well as from disciplinary approaches to the course topic.
  5. Students in 100-level courses must engage course material in a writing-intensive, discussion-focused manner. Students in 300-level courses must demonstrate an explicitunderstanding of the disciplinary approaches of the course in the work they produce. Courses at the 300-level must include a research component.

Literary and Social Institutions Course Listing >>