Students listening to professor, smiling

Literacies for Life and Career

A Signature Initiative

The Arts & Sciences undergraduate curriculum will provide students with a set of literacies and competencies that are indispensable for their future careers, their roles as engaged and responsible citizens, and their well-being as individuals.

Our innovative literacy-based approach focuses on the acquisition of multiple knowledge areas and skills as well as diverse perspectives necessary for successfully navigating a complex, ambivalent, and rapidly changing world. The sets of literacies may include:

  • Applied problem solving
  • Civic and community mindset
  • Collaboration and leadership
  • Communication dexterity
  • Creative practices
  • Data analysis and quantitative reasoning
  • Digital innovation
  • Ethical reasoning
  • Historical and contextual understanding
  • Integrative thinking
  • Intercultural and global competence
  • Media, narrative, visual literacies
  • Research process
  • Social, political, economic literacies

The explicit concentration on literacies leverages the existing Arts & Sciences curriculum in all disciplines and on all levels — including introductory and core courses, major-specific courses, graduate education, and capstone experiences. This approach, in conjunction with innovative career-planning efforts in the College of Arts & Sciences, will better prepare students to understand their value, meet the challenges of the workplace, and engage meaningfully with critical sectors of society.

Implementation Timeline

By fall 2026, the literacy-based approach will extend to all A&S courses, career advising and preparation, and assessment tools. Ahead of that, the launch will progress through five phases:

Phase 1: Explore, Refine, Develop (SP22-FL23)

Develop and refine rationale; hire Director of Curricular Innovation; select faculty literacies fellows and draft workable definitions of literacies; issue call for early adoption grants; form and convene steering and advisory committees

Phase 2: PROTOTYPE (SP23-SU23)

Build cohorts of early adopters; adopters develop FL23 and SP24 literacy-based courses; draft guidelines for course integration; revise course evaluation template for pilot courses; draft plans for implementation in four-year advising; engage DUSs; validate literacies

Phase 3: PILOT (AY23-24)

Launch early adopter pilot courses; cohorts continue; adjust and refine definitions and guidelines with feedback from early adopters; develop integration of literacies into four-year advising; develop assessment tools

Phase 4: SCALE UP (SU24-SP25)

Socialize literacies through faculty meetings, town halls, lecture series; facilitate faculty learning communities and workshops; pilot integration of literacies into four-year advising; configure literacies in Workday Student


Offer literacy- based first-year and 1000/2000- level courses; continue to facilitate faculty learning communities and workshops; complete integration of literacies into four-year advising; complete configuration of literacies in Workday Student

Four Overlapping Objectives

Encourage students to prepare thoughtfully and intentionally for their future careers by capitalizing on the strengths of their liberal arts education

Enable students to imagine and build future lives of meaning and impact

Equip students with long-term tools for navigating the world’s complex problems in informed and nuanced ways

Produce graduates who are ready and able to act as a positive force in the world

The initiative will foster awareness of the larger objectives of a liberal arts education and build tools for students to track their progress as they gain literacies and competencies over time. 

Faculty and students in Arts & Sciences will be encouraged to reframe how they regard the liberal arts curriculum. Literacies for Life and Career will:

  • Ask faculty to identify, augment, and signpost particular literacies that may exceed the subject matter or disciplinary focus of a course, thus making students more aware that they are also gaining broad, practically applicable literacies and competencies.
  • Integrate a literacy-based approach into existing courses within the Arts & Sciences curriculum.
  • Create new courses that are intentionally structured around the achievement of particular literacies or that combine disciplinary areas and diverse literacies through innovative modes of engagement such as:
    • Experiential learning
    • Capstone projects
    • Internships
    • Study trips and other international experiences
  • Build into the existing comprehensive four-year advising practice exercises in which students articulate and reflect on their acquisition of literacies, with the eventual goal of enabling them to craft a narrative about the knowledge and skills they have gained, which they can then take into their post-graduate lives and offer to potential employers.

Meet Our Team


Oversight and Implementation Teams  Faculty and Staff Engagement

Early Adopters & Literacies Fellows

To date, two cohorts of faculty across Arts & Sciences have been selected for teaching grants. The initial cohort piloted pedagogical strategies that integrate a literacy-based approach into a selection of their 2023-24 undergraduate courses. The second cohort is set to implement strategies in the 2024-25 academic year. The Literacies Fellows worked with the implementation team to collect input from faculty across Arts & Sciences. This process helped to identify the skills, knowledges, and fluencies embedded in the curriculum to define the provisional list of literacies for the initiative.

Learn more about Early Adopters & Literacies Fellows

By drawing students’ attention to the ways in which their coursework transcends their major and indeed even their preparation for a specific career, this approach will make the larger, more holistic goals of their education more transparent to them and assist them in translating the knowledge they have acquired into concrete competencies attractive to future employers.

―Erin McGlothlinVice Dean of Undergraduate Affairs, College of Arts & Sciences


Contact Michelle DeLair and Patricia Maurer with questions or for further information.