The Goshen Core

Director, B. Lapp

What we call “the Goshen Core” (sometimes called “general education” at other schools) is the set of courses and requirements that applies to all students no matter what major they choose. A Bachelor’s Degree at Goshen consists of 120 credit hours. For most students, the Goshen Core curriculum is 38 credit hours. See for more detailed information about the Core for traditional programs. For the Goshen Core in non-traditional programs, see details in Office of Graduate and Contuining Studies section of this catalog or its website.

Core Curriculum

We designed the Goshen Core with the college’s vision statement in mind. In that statement we express our aim to focus on “international, intercultural, interdisciplinary, and integrative teaching and learning that offers every student a life-orienting story embedded in Christ centered core values: global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking, servant leadership and passionate learning.” In order to express that through our curriculum, we developed a set of Student Learning Outcomes and then created a program with three main parts:

  1. Three “threads” of course work:
    • The First Year Experience Thread, which develops students’ fundamental academic skills
    • The Intercultural Thread, which prepares students for the increasingly global world of the 21st century
    • The Perspectives Courses Thread, an interdisciplinary set of options that helps students see how knowledge is created and revised in multiple areas of study
  2. The Electronic Portfolio. Allows students to collect their work and then produce a “showcase” at the end of their first year and at the culmination of the Intercultural Thread.
  3. Other requirements: convocation and chapel, prerequisites.
    Students at GC are required to attend and participate in convocation and chapel events that foster intellectual exploration and faith formation. We also require that students demonstrate competency in Quantitative Literacy through a test, or by taking a course. In order to prepare for intercultural study, students must demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language equivalent to two semesters of college-level study.

First Year Experience

First-year courses

See course descriptions below.

  • Core 100, Identity, Culture and Community3
  • Core 104, Learning Community 1
  • Core 110, The Academic Voice3
  • Core 115, Wellness for Life1
  • Core 120, Engaging the Bible3
  • Core (various), Goshen Seminar3
    The Goshen seminar also meets one of the five Perspectives requirements (see below)

Note: Transfer students and new students who begin in January take Core 106, Culture and Community instead of Core 100 and 104.

Communication Skills in the Goshen Core

The prerequisite for Core 110 is a Verbal SAT score of 480 or above, or ACT English score of 20 or above, or completion of Engl 105, Introduction to College Writing.

Students who enter with an AP English composition score of 4 or 5, an IB SL English score of 5, 6 or 7 or transfer credit in a college composition or oral communication class have met the Core 110 requirement and may enroll in a Goshen Seminar.

Students who enter with an IB HL score of 5, 6 or 7 or transfer credit in two college composition classes, or a composition class and a public speaking class may choose to take a Goshen Seminar or enroll in a fifth Perspectives class instead (see fuller explanation below).

Quantitative Literacy (QL)

Must be completed by fall of second year.
The QL requirement may be met in one of three ways:

  1. For students entering with SAT Math scores below 480 or ACT Math scores below 20: complete the course Math 105, Quantitative Reasoning.
  2. For students entering with SAT Math scores 480-540 or ACT Math scores 20-23: Either pass the QL exam (given at summer registration and at the beginning of each semester) or complete Math 105, Math 115, Math 131, Math 141, or Math 170.
  3. For students with any of the following, the QL requirement is met:
    • SAT Math score of 550 or higher
    • ACT Math score of 24 or higher
    • Minimum AP Calculus score of 4 (for AB level) or 3 (for BC level)
    • Minimum IB score of 5 in Mathematics of Mathematical Studies
    • College credit in 100-level or higher mathematics course

Intercultural Thread

One of the five core values at the foundation of Goshen College is global citizenship, so intercultural study is an important component of the Goshen Core. There are three basic ways to meet the intercultural study requirement, listed below. All are described in more detail in the International Education section of the catalog and at

Three intercultural study paths

1. International Study-Service Term (SST)

  • INTL 250 Study Service Term13
  • Core 305, SST integration capstone1
Immerses groups of students in a significantly different culture for a semester, with a faculty leader. Includes study of language and culture, a service learning placement, and homestays with host families. Prerequisite is language competence equivalent to two semesters of college-level study.

2. On-campus Alternate Program12
Three approved alternate courses (see International Education section of catalog), followed by Core 300, Global Issues. Language prerequisite of any world language at the 102-level, completed by placement test, course credit, or CLEP exam. For education majors, one diverse field experience course counts as one of the three alternate courses. For nursing majors, the community health clinical course counts as one of the three alternate courses.

3. Study abroad with other international programs12
See details in the International Education section of the catalog.

Perspectives courses

Perspectives courses focus on the investigation of a complex problem or issue. The professor's discipline will serve as a platform for approaching the topic, but courses will also include examining various perspectives within an interdisciplinary framework. These courses can be taken at any time during the four years. Students take one Perspectives course in each of five categories. The Goshen Seminar meets one of the five requirements. Descriptions of individual Perspectives courses are in academic department pages. Perspectives courses are designated on the printed and .pdf course offering lists with RW, SW, NW, AW or PX. For a list of current Perspectives courses, see the Registrar's office homepage at For Perspectives course descriptions, see the Goshen Core webpage at

Religious World (RW) - 3 credit hours

Introduction to the study of religious traditions; studies of the Christian faith within the context of the broader religious world. Options: Core 170, Core 171, Hist 204, Phil 202, Phil 203, Phil 204, Rel 203, Rel 205, Rel 206, Rel 207.

Social World (SW) - 3 credit hours

Values and histories underlying cultures, societies and religious traditions and the relationships between them. These courses include a significant quantitative literacy (QL) project. Prerequisite: QL requirement. Options: Core 150, Core 151, Core 152, Core 153, Hist 101, Hist 205, Hist 211, Hist 217, Psyc 201, Psyc 210, Psyc 217, WGS 201.

Natural World (NW) - 3 credit hours

The natural created order, including the earth and its systems. These courses include a significant quantitative literacy (QL) project. Prerequisite: QL requirement. Options: Core 160, Biol 110, Biol 205, Biol 207, Chem 103, Phys 154, Phys 215.

Artistic World (AW) - 3 credit hours

Forms of human thought, movement, imagination and innovation. Options: Core 180, Core 181, Core 182, Art 201, Art 210, Art 211, Engl 205, Engl 206, Engl 209, Engl 211, Engl 212, Engl 213, Engl 214, Mus 203, Mus 206, Thea 201.

Peacemaking (PX) - 3 credit hours

The factors that create and sustain frameworks for the essential relationships between and among humans, God and the natural world. Options: Core 190, Core 191, Math 201, Nurs 309, PJCS 201, PJCS 202, PJCS 203, PJCS 210.


Students will form an electronic portfolio to document their learning and growth in college. Each course taken in the Goshen Core will include assignments to be included in the e-portfolio. Courses in major, minor and professional programs may also offer additional materials for the e-portfolio.

Convocation and chapel

Convocation and chapel programs gather the Goshen College campus community together for shared learning experiences and for worship, usually in the church-chapel sanctuary. Students are asked to attend a set number of events each semester.

The purpose of chapel is to tend to the Christian spiritual formation of our gathered community. Chapel calls us to come before God together in worship and seek to be continually formed into the image of Christ. Convocation provides integrative learning opportunities for personal, intellectual, and social growth. In convocation, we explore complex problems and big questions. We also support and celebrate each others' learning. Speakers for both Chapel and Convocation may be faculty, students or campus guests.

Student learning outcomes

The Goshen Core uses Student Learning Outcomes as both a target for student achievement and a foundation for planning and development. The following learning outcomes form the basis of our curricular and co-curricular goals and address the essential knowledge, skills, and responsibilities that shape the environment we construct to support student learning. This integrative approach to learning will assist students in defining their identities and preparing them to engage twenty-first century challenges. As we continue to create a community of faith and learning, we believe that the learning outcomes must serve students in living out the five core values.

Overall primary outcome: Integrative Learning

The Goshen Core’s explicit focus is on Integrative Learning as the primary learning outcome. As such the program has three curricular (3) “threads”: a) fundamental academic skills, b) intercultural skills and experiences, and c) interdisciplinary frameworks for learning and developing dispositions appropriate for integration of knowledge, skills and responsibilities. Students will begin with a first year designed to cement their fundamental academic skills and to launch them into the intercultural and interdisciplinary realms. Either an intensive or extended encounter learning about an intercultural environment will follow. Courses designed to highlight the perspectives of the following areas of study will round out the Core experience: The Religious World, The Social World, The Natural World, The Artistic World and Peacemaking.

Outcomes by area of learning:


In our academic and campus life programs, students will develop knowledge of:

  • The Christian Story: The biblical basis and theological exploration of Christian faith
  • Identity: Self, personal growth, and one’s relationship to multiple communities
  • The Social World (see above)
  • The Natural World
  • The Artistic World
  • Peacemaking


In our academic and campus life programs, students will grow in their mastery of the following intellectual and practical skills:

  • Communication: Listening, reading, writing, speaking and interacting effectively
  • Quantitative literacy: Using basic mathematical concepts and operations required for problem-solving and decision-making
  • Inquiry: Using visual and information literacy to gather appropriate evidence from multiple data sources
  • Critical and reflective thinking: Analyzing, interpreting, evaluating and using evidence to make good judgments
  • Problem solving: Working individually and collaboratively for creative solutions
  • Intercultural competence: Acquiring language and cross-cultural communication skills to interact effectively with people from diverse communities


In our academic and campus life programs, students will develop a sense of personal and social responsibility for:

  • Faith in Action: Reflecting on the relationship between personal faith and life choices that support God’s justice, reconciliation, and peace
  • Ethical reasoning: Living and serving with integrity in a variety of communities
  • Intercultural openness: Creating partnerships with people across difference to learn from one another and work towards equity
  • Local and global community engagement: Understanding human systems and knowing how to bring about change peacefully
  • Lifelong learning: Remaining curious and occupying an inquiry stance in the face of challenges to current understandings of oneself and of the world
  • Living Sustainably: Working to create restorative relationships with the natural world


Integrative learning is an understanding and disposition that a student builds across the curriculum and co-curriculum, from making connections among ideas and experiences to synthesizing and transferring learning to new, complex situations within and beyond the campus. We promote integration of learning across disciplines because we believe the acquisition and application of knowledge is most successful when shaped by various perspectives. An integrative approach highlights these realities and supports students in understanding how to select and apply appropriate techniques and methodologies for solving complex and significant problems.

Goshen Core courses

CORE 100 Identity, Culture and Community 3
How do people with diverse identities live together in a vibrant community? Students will acquire perspectives and skills to prepare them to thrive in their intercultural experience whether in the college community, the local community or the global community. Students will explore the construction of identity, the components of culture, and elements of community. Also facilitates the transition to college (academic, social and spiritual), introduces the Goshen Core with the liberal arts context, and allows exploration of areas of study and career possibilities. Taken in the fall semester of the first year.

CORE 104 Learning Community 1
A continuation of the first semester Core 100 experience with a focus on vocation, leadership, sustainability and faith as pathways to career development. Students will form electronic portfolios to document their learning throughout the college experience. Taken in the spring semester of the first year. Required for all new fall first-year students and for fall and spring transfer students who have a transfer course equivalent to CORE 100. Prerequisite: CORE 100.

CORE 106 Culture and Community 3
This course for transfer students and spring semester first-time students combines course content from the CORE 100 and CORE 104 courses. Students will explore identity and culture, specifically the question: How do people with diverse identities live together in a vibrant community? Course content will also include an introduction to the Goshen Core, campus resources for career development and spiritual growth, student development theory, and electronic portfolio formation.

CORE 110 Academic Voice:Speaking and Writing 3
In this course, students practice crafting and presenting speeches and essays using the tools of critical reading, analysis, active listening, rhetoric and research, with the purpose of developing their voices to participate in academic conversations. Taken in the fall or spring semester of the first year. Prerequisite: SAT verbal score of 480, ACT English score of 20, or Engl 105.

CORE 115 Wellness for Life 1
Explores the influence of physical activity and dietary choices on risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and mental/emotional disorders. Examines personal, genetic, attitudinal and behavioral components of wellness. Taken in fall or spring semester of first year.

CORE 116 Wellness for Life 2
This course provides 1) an overview of physical, emotional, spiritual wellness, and 2) a basic framework for financial peace. During the course, each student will gather data on the aspects of wellness mentioned above, assess his or her own wellness level from multiple points of view, and then analyze and interpret different aspects of the data. Each student will then develop a personal wellness plan, implement that plan and gauge progress toward his or her individual goals.

CORE 120 Engaging the Bible 3
An introduction to biblical literature that provides a foundation for current expressions of Christian faith and practice. Students will gain skill in the use of academic resources and methods in order to read, interpret and communicate more effectively. This course should be taken in the Spring Semester or May term of the first year or Fall Semester of the second year. Prerequisite: CORE 110 or equivalent.

CORE 150 GC Sem: Are We Still Human? 3
How has the definition of being human changed over time--along with societal developments in categories such as biology, technology, and spirituality-- and what do these changes say about our culture, values, and beliefs? A Goshen Seminar and Social World course in the Goshen Core. Prerequisites: CORE 110 or equivalent, quantitative literacy.

CORE 151 GC Sem: Hope for a New World 3
Why do end times movements develop during stressful times--environmentally, politically and socially? What can we learn from three late 19th century movements in China, Brazil and South Africa, about how people construct communities and dream of a better world? A Goshen Seminar and Social World course in the Goshen Core. Prerequisites: CORE 110 or equivalent, quantitative literacy

CORE 152 GC Sem: Free Information 3
Should information be free to all, or should we pay for it? Should the government be involved to either create information for the good of all or protect the intellectual property rights of individuals and corporations? A Goshen Seminar and Social World course in the Goshen Core. Prerequisites: CORE 110 or equivalent, quantitative literacy.

CORE 153 GC Sem: Digital Age 3
Explores the impact of mass media on individuals and cultures, both historically and in contemporary society. Considers legal and ethical issues as well as strategies for users, creators and critics of the media. A Goshen Seminar and Social World course in the Goshen Core. Prerequisite CORE 110 or equivalent, quantitative literacy.

CORE 160 GC Sem: Energy and Environment 3
Humankind has built an amazing civilization on planet Earth by exploiting fossil fuels. Now we confront challenges such as climate change, the limits of oil extraction, and our impact on other species. An understanding of physics, particularly of energy, is key to identifying promising solutions. A Goshen Seminar and Natural World course in the Goshen Core. Prerequisites: CORE 110 or equivalent, quantitative literacy.

CORE 170 GC Sem: Speaking of Death 3
Why do we fear death? How is our understanding of death bound together with our concept of human nature, the sacred, and human responsibility? This course will look at the economics of death, religious beliefs, commemoration and consolation. It will draw heavily from literature and the arts. A Goshen Seminar and Religious World course in the Goshen Core. Prerequisites: CORE 110 or equivalent, quantitative literacy.

CORE 171 GC Sem: World Christianity 3
Why is Christianity growing so rapidly in most parts of the world while it appears to be declining in Europe and North America? This course will investigate assumptions about secularization and globalization. It will look especially at Catholicism, African Indigenous Churches, Pentecostalism, and the Anabaptist-Mennonite church. Students will participate in interpreting data gathered in primary research by the professor. A Goshen Seminar and Religious World course in the Goshen Core. Prerequisites: CORE 110 or equivalent, quantitative literacy.

CORE 172 GC Sem: Religion and Politics 3
How does religion function as a force for transformation and change in society, or a source of stability? And how does the political world feed back into the world of faith? This course examines the impact of religious beliefs, religious practices, and religious communities on the broader world of politics: governance, social issues, and the organization of the polis. A Goshen Seminar and Religious World course in the Goshen Core. Prerequistites: CORE 110 or equivalent, quantitative literacy.

CORE 180 GC Sem:Identity in World Literature 3
Explores the expression of individual and national identity in novels, essays and poems from post-colonial global contexts. Uses multiple lenses: literary, historical, political, faith, and gender. A Goshen Seminar and an Artistic World course in the Goshen Core. Prerequisite CORE 110 or equivalent, quantitative literacy.

CORE 181 GC Sem: Writing about Home 3
How do we think about "home" and represent "home" to one another? Is it where we are from, or where we are, or both? How does it relate to where we are going? We will explore these issues at the level of our families, our campus, our local communities, and our nations, using literature, film and other resources. A Goshen Seminar and Artistic World course in the Goshen Core. Prerequisites: CORE 110 or equivalent, quantitative literacy.

CORE 182 GC Sem: Good Work 3
What is work, and what role does work play in building a meaningful life? How is work connected to the formation of the self and to the building of community? This course considers both historical perspectives and contemporary expressions of vocation and calling through essays, memoir, fiction, and poetry. A Goshen Seminar and Artistic World course in the Goshen Core. Prerequisite CORE 110 or equivalent, quantitative literacy.

CORE 190 GC Sem: Crossing Borders 3
How do stories shape communities and offer possibilities for crossing boundaries and creating connections between them? In this course we will examine social, national, interpersonal and intrapersonal borders through literature that explores immigration, assimilation, the "hybridizing" of cultures and the experience of those who exist "between" cultures. A Goshen Seminar and Peacemaking course in the Goshen Core. Prerequisites: CORE 110 or equivalent, quantitative literacy.

CORE 191 GC Sem:War Peace, Nonresistance 3
Can or should Christians participate in war? What form should the responsibility to pursue peace take? From early in the tradition, Christians have struggled to answer these questions. In this course we examine how concepts of pacifism, just war, and holy war developed and the many forms that peacemaking takes--especially today. A Goshen Seminar and Peacemaking course in the Goshen Core. Prerequisites: CORE 110 or equivalent, quantitative literacy.

CORE 210 Professional Communication Skills 3
A course for adult students that responds to the challenges of professional communication expectations. The focus is on critique and the development of individual written and oral communication skills for content, style and effectiveness. Access and management of information will also be addressed.

CORE 300 Global Issues: 3
Designed as a capstone for students completing On-campus Intercultural Study, and as an elective option for students who return from Study Service Term, this course guides students in reflecting on their cross-cultural experiences and in considering how these influence personal relationships, decision and goals. Rooted in the study of a particular theme such as global poverty or religion in world cultures, students will analyze their own cultures and the cultures around them via reflective writing, readings, guided discussions and service learning ventures. Prerequisite: 9 credit hours of On-campus Alternate Program, completed Study Service Term, or consent of instructor.

CORE 305 SST Integration Capstone 1
An online course taken after completing a semester of study abroad. Students will reflect on their international and intercultural experiences at Goshen College and complete a portfolio project that synthesizes their learning. The goal of the course is to integrate lessons learned in the Goshen Core, the major, and the international experience.