TOI-2 Cultural Dimensions of Human Experiences

Human cultures are fluid and interwoven sets of values, shared beliefs, language, customs, and artistic expressions shaped by experience and history. Courses in this topic promote understanding of cultures of groups of people—large or small—through examination of their specific literary and artistic expressions, their ways of thinking and behaving, their achievements and struggles, and their evolving relationships to their past. Cultures change over time as a consequence of internal challenges and external contacts. Cultures and groups are not isolated from each other but exist in relation to each other. Historically, these relationships have ranged from coexistence to collaboration and mutual exchange to domination. The nature of the relationships with cultures and groups near and far then shape cultures as much as their own customs, ways of knowing, and artistic expressions.

Courses within this Topic of Inquiry category must meet both of the TOI-2 Learning Objectives:

TOI-2 Learning Objective 1: Students will be able to analyze the cultures in a given society in their historical, linguistic, and/or sociopolitical context through an understanding of a broad array of historical actors, narratives, artistic forms, power structures, technologies, and/or beliefs.

Sample Course Objectives

  • Analyze similarities, differences, and interrelationships among cultural texts and artifacts, whether visual, literary, filmic, artistic, or historical
  • Utilize the methods available for studying  ongoing cultural change
  • Identify how an individual speaker’s role in cultural or social change may vary as a function of age, gender, social status, and awareness of the change
  • Acknowledge oneself as a participant in particular cultures and social groups, and explore how this affects one’s experiences, values, and expectations
  • Evaluate the origins and processes of political, social, or economic institutions in the context of a dynamic global community
  • Examine language, signs, and symbols as expressions of culturally constructed values and communication systems

TOI-2 Learning Objective 2: Students will be able to engage with a variety of perspectives in the global community, distinguish their own cultural patterns, and, through a process of dialogue and/or critical self-reflection, respond flexibly to multiple worldviews.

Sample Course Objectives

  • Discuss the diversity of global human experience through an examination of human cultures and cultural products
  • Analyze global cultural achievements in their historical and sociopolitical contexts through an understanding of a broad array of actors, cultures, and beliefs
  • Examine intercultural dynamics that lead to cultural syncretism, appropriation, repression, or new forms of cultural production
  • Describe international collaborations to address cultural rights concerns; consider why global inequalities persist and what interventions may be warranted
  • Explain the political, economic, and social trade-offs reflected in individual decisions and societal policymaking and enforcement across contexts