Liberal arts and sciences

Bluffton University is a liberal arts institution. The liberal arts and sciences program provides an integrated program of general education for all undergraduate students that complements and supports the courses in their major field of study. This core program strives to place students in an ever-expanding context from individual identity in the first-year course, Becoming a Scholar, to global citizenship in the senior capstone course, Christian Values in a Global Community.

The program is designed to acquaint students with current thought and advances in all the traditional academic disciplines. The liberal arts and sciences program models how an Anabaptist-Mennonite vision of community can be used to develop responses to issues and concerns. The courses listed below are designed to give students the knowledge and basis for life-long learning needed for the challenges of the 21st century.

The general sequence of courses is outlined below, but the precise sequence of general education and major courses will be determined by each student in consultation with the academic advisor.

General education

(45-48 hours)


LAS 105 Becoming a Scholar (3)
        LAS 105 is taken the first semester of the first year.
ENG 110 College English (3)
     or  ENG 120 Advanced College English (3)
         College English is to be taken during the first year. Students must take the English level (110 or 120) into which they were placed.
 MAT 105 Understanding Numerical Data (2)
     or  COM 185 Public Speaking and Persuasion (3)
         Understanding Numerical Data may be taken by any student who places into College Algebra or higher or who completes Basic Math.
*REL 100 Introduction to Biblical Worldview (3)
         Note that this course is now offered at two times in the fall semester: MWF 9 am and MWF 2 pm. It will also be offered at least two times in the spring semester.
One fine arts course (3)
         See list of approved courses below.
Two natural sciences from different areas (including one lab science) (7)
         Natural Science courses with a NSC prefix are open to all students. Lab science courses may have prerequisites including a minimum math placement. The options are listed below.
Two introductory social science courses (6)
         At least one course must be taken from Group A (see lists below).
*Two humanities courses (at least one of HUM 221 or HUM 222)  (3 each)
         Students must take either Humanities 1 or 2. For their second course, they may take the other Humanities course or a history or literature course from the lists below. This option is available to students in any major. College English is the
prerequisite for either Humanities 1 or Humanities 2.
One upper level religion course
        The upper-level religion courses are open to all students who have completed Introduction to Biblical
*LAS 301 Issues in Modern America (3)
     or *EDU 332 Social and Philosophical Issues in Education (3)
         Issues in Modern America is generally taken by juniors. Students must have completed 15 hours of
general education credit before enrolling.
LAS 342 Cross-cultural Experience (4)
     or  6 hours of one foreign language taken at college level (6)
     or  participation in an approved semester abroad program
         Cross-cultural Experiences should be taken by students in the spring of their sophomore or junior year. All Spanish courses require a placement test if the student has taken any prior Spanish course.
*LAS 400 Christian Values in a Global Community (3)
         Christian Values in the Global Community is open to seniors. Students must have completed LAS 301 Issues
in Modern America or EDU 332 Social & Philosophical Issues in Education and their cross-cultural requirement prior to taking this course.

* indicates Liberal Arts and Sciences requirements that must be taken at Bluffton University.



Choose one course. Course descriptions for the new courses are included below.

Visual Art
ART 135 Introduction to Visual Art (3)
ART 136 Exploring Visual Art (3)
ART 204 Drawing (3)
ART 207 Design 2 (3)
ART 214 Watercolor (3)
ART 217 Ceramics 1 (3)
ART 329 Art History 3 (3)
ART 225 Printmaking 1 (3)
ART 226 Printmaking 2 (3)

THE 135 Introduction to Theatre (3)
THE 136 Theatre for Social Change (3)
THE 257 Oral Interpretation (3)

MUS 135 Introduction to Music (3)
MUS 136 World Music (3)
MUS 140 Exploring Music (3)


Natural Science Requirement (7)

Students are required to take at least seven hours (2 courses) of natural science by choosing one course from two of the four columns below.  At least one course must have a laboratory component.


Life Science



Earth/Space Sciences

Lab Courses
Especially for
General Education


BIO 105
The Biological World
   PHY 105
The Physical World

Lab Courses
Suitable for
General Education


BIO 135

BIO 205*
Invert. Zoology

BIO 230
Anat. & Phys.
CEM 121
Gen. Inorg.


PHY 211
Physics 1


PHY 202*

PHY 203*
Earth Science

Non-Lab Courses
Especially for
General Education
NSC 106
Human Biology
NSC 105
Chemistry of
Everything (3)

NSC 109

NSC 107
Global Climate

*Alternate-year course



Students are required to take two social science courses with two different prefixes. They can do this either by taking two courses from group A, or by taking one course from Group A and one course from group B. Group A consists of survey courses of the various social science disciplines. Group B consists of focused introductory social science courses.

ECN 141 Principles of Macroeconomics (3)
GEO 111 Principles of Geography (3)
PLS 100 Introduction to Political Science (3)
PSY 110 Introduction to Psychology (3)
SOC 152 Introduction to Sociology (3)
SOC 162 Anthropology (3)

PHL 110 Introduction to Public Health (3)
PLS 251 American Political Process (3)
SOC/SWK 185 Women in Society (3)
SOC 225 Race and Ethnicity in American Society: History and Current Realities (3)
SWK 141 Understanding Social Welfare (3)


Humanities Requirement (6)

Students must take either Humanities 1 or 2. For their second course, they may take the other Humanities course or a history or literature course from the lists below. This option is available to students in any major.

History courses:
HIS 200 Foundations of American Civilization
HIS 201 Making of Contemporary America
HIS 210 World History 1
        [note: can only be paired with Humanities 2]
HIS 212 World History 2
        [note: can only be paired with Humanities 1]
HIS 245 Regional & National Studies
HIS 252 Ohio & the Old Northwest
HIS 301 Studies in American History
HIS 302 Studies in European History
HIS 305 African American History
HIS 310 U.S. Women's History
HIS 320 Civil War & Reconstruction (history majors are given registration priority for this course)

Literature courses:
ENG 160 Approaches to Literature
ENG 240 Survey of American Literature
ENG 243 Studies in American Literature
ENG 256 Survey of English Literature 1
ENG 257 Survey of English Literature 2
ENG 261 Studies in English Literature
ENG 265 Studies in Modern Literature
ENG 282 Studies in the Novel
ENG 367 Shakespeare

MUS 321 Music History 1 meets Humanities 1 for Music Education majors. These majors take HUM 222 Humanities 2 to complete the requirement.


Upper Level Religion Course Requirement

Choose one of the following:
REL 242 Spiritual Disciplines in the Life of the Church (3)
REL 250 Introduction to Old Testament (3)                                                  
REL 252 Introduction to New Testament (3)                       
REL 273 Christian Theology (3)
REL 274 Christian Ethics (3)
REL 276 War, Peace and Nonviolence (3)
REL 275 History of Christianity (3)


Cross-cultural Requirement

Students meet this requirement in one of four ways: (1) completing  LAS 342 Cross-cultural Experience; (2) participating in the Peace and Conflict Resolution Program in Northern Ireland or the Washington Community Scholars' Center (WCSC); (3) participating in an approved semester abroad program; or (4) electing a minimum of six hours of one foreign language. International students may complete the requirement by completing SOC 162 Anthropology.

The majority of students meet their cross-cultural requirement through experiences offered during the May term. These experiences take place in international locations (e.g., Central America, Europe, Israel/Palestine, China, Trinidad, Botswana) and in domestic settings (Chicago, San Antonio, New York and Native American communities in the Southwest). The experiences available each May are announced in the class schedule or in the course listing found on Campus web.

Students who have matriculated at Bluffton and plan to use a language to meet the cross-cultural requirement are required to take the language at Bluffton because of the unique experiential component as part of the language class. If students wish to seek permission to take a language course unavailable at Bluffton to meet the cross-cultural requirement, the student must bring a proposal to the cross-cultural committee, explaining how the experiential component will be met, before the course is taken at another location. Following the completion of the language course and experiential component, a two page summary of the experiential component must be submitted to and approved by the cross-cultural committee before transfer credit will be accepted.

Foreign language course options:
SPA 111 Beginning Spanish 1 (3)
SPA 121 Beginning Spanish 2 (3)
SPA 225 Intermediate Spanish (3)
SPA 301 Spanish Prose Composition (3)
SPA 302 Spanish Peninsular Culture and Civilization (3)
SPA 303 Latin American Culture and Civilization (3)
SPA 306 Advanced Grammar Review (3)
SPA 311 Survey of Peninsular Spanish Literature (3)
SPA 312 Survey of Spanish American Literature (3)
SPA 240 Spanish Conversation: Story of the Spanish Speaking World (3) 
SPA 242 Spanish Conversation: Music, Film, and Popular Culture in the Spanish Speaking World (3)
SPA 244 Spanish Conversation: Conflict and Social Change in the Spanish Speaking World (3)


Arts and Lecture Credit Requirement

Bluffton University provides a rich program of lecture series and arts events. These arts and lecture events provide an opportunity for shared academic and cultural experiences among faculty, staff and students across departments and disciplines. All Bluffton undergraduate students, except for those in BCOMP, are required to complete two semester hours of arts and lecture credit. Students earn arts and lecture credit by attending events that are part of the Forum series and Artist Series, Friday Colloquia, drama productions, concerts and other events designated as eligible for arts and lecture credit by the Forum advisory committee.
more info...

Students earn .5 hours of credit for each 15 events attended. Five of these 15 events must be events that are part of the Forum series.

LAS 101, 102, 103, 104 Arts and Lecture Credit (.5 each)
This credit is awarded to students who attend 15 events approved for arts and lecture credit. Five of the events must be part of the forum series. Students are not billed for arts and lecture credit.

Language Study Requirement

Bluffton University requires all students to have a minimum exposure to a language other than English. This requirement may be met in several ways. Students who have completed a minimum of two years of  high school language with a C- or higher (even if they have studied two different languages) have met the language study requirement. Students who have taken no high school language are required to take six semester hours of a foreign language at the college level.  Students who have taken one year of high school language are required to take three semester hours of a foreign language at the college level.

Students who transfer to Bluffton with at least 58 accepted transfer hours are exempt from this requirement. Students who have become proficient in a language other than English through intercultural experiences have met this requirement. 
Students completing two semesters of modern language study at the university level have met both the language study and the cross-cultural requirements.


ART 135 Introduction to Visual Art (3)
This course is designed to provide a basic introduction to visual art for students majoring in other disciplines. Class presentations will include the study of visual art examples: gallery visits, creative engagement projects, video presentations, and critique and response papers.

ART 136 Exploring Visual Art (3)
This discipline-based course will explore different topics in the visual arts. The course may focus on a particular style, theme, medium, or approach to visual art. The topic will vary according to the instructor of a particular section and the term in which it is offered.

This course will help students learn and embody the practices of being a scholar in the context of Bluffton's academic and faith community. Students will develop essential elements of their academic identity through readings and conversations about Bluffton's four enduring values and by constructing a course project. This course is required of all first-year students during the fall semester of the first year. All students who earn an E must retake the course during the following spring semester. Those who earn a D may retake it during the spring semester.

Designed to help students improve writing and critical thinking skills needed in college. Students analyze and critique written texts in the process of writing several analytical essays. Students work through the research process and write a research essay. Placement in this class is based on college entrance scores and high school record.

Designed to help students improve writing and critical thinking skills needed in college. Students analyze and critique challenging written texts in the process of writing several analytical essays. Students work through the research process and write a research essay. Placement in this class is based on college entrance scores and high school record.

Designed to help students understand, interpret and think critically about numerical information. The main focus of the course is concept development rather than mathematical manipulation. Use of graphing calculators gives students experience in handling numerical data. Prerequisite: MAT 050 or placement into MAT 100 or above.

Strengthens students' ethical and social effectiveness in public speaking settings through theoretical and practical knowledge of oral communication and public reasoning practices. The course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to become better public speakers, attentive audience members and engaged citizens by increasing their awareness of the ethical, technical and performative dimensions of oral communication, by strengthening their understanding of the logical and persuasive validity of public arguments, and by exercising this knowledge during informative, deliberative, transformative and ceremonial public speaking occasions.

An introduction to each of the four main ways that modern theologians have attempted to understand the Bible (Biblical Studies, Ethics, Theology and Spirituality) through the exploration of the biblical foundations of each approach. Students consider the distinctiveness and the relationships among these different approaches to the biblical text in an Anabaptist context. The course emphasizes the ability to read and understand the biblical texts in a discerning way and to explore the text's potential for shaping a contemporary worldview. The Sermon on the Mount provides a focal text for the course.

This course is a survey of the fundamental concepts of biology for the non-science major. It also explores topics in chemistry that are relevant to understanding the life sciences, such as the basic structure of the atom, covalent and ionic bonds, the structure of biologically-relevant organic molecules, acids/bases and the pH scale, and oxidation/reduction reactions. Biological topics range from biomolecules and cells to environmental issues and the complexity of ecosystems. Laboratory sessions give students hands-on experience, which illuminates topics explored in the lecture sessions. Throughout, the presentation includes the history of the science, the present-day understanding of the science and the impact of scientific knowledge on humankind. Prerequisite: MAT 050 or placement into MAT 100 or above.

This course is designed to introduce non-science majors to the fundamental concepts of physics. It also presents some earth and space science topics. Laboratory sessions give students hands-on experience, which illuminates topics explored in the lecture sessions. Throughout, the presentation includes the history of the science, the present-day understanding of the science and the impact of scientific knowledge on humankind. Prerequisite: MAT 050 or placement into MAT 100 or above.

The elements of chemistry will be explored, with an emphasis on "household chemistry" involving materials that might be found at home. Topics to be covered include acid-base and oxidation-reduction chemistry, organic and inorganic chemistry, and how chemists move between the macroscopic and microscopic. Environmentally relevant topics will be integrated into the discussion.

This course covers issues related to human biology. Possible topics emphasized include genetics and genetic engineering, how humans fit into the historical scheme of life, human variation, human health and nutrition, the systems of the human body, cell division and cancer, human population dynamics, immerging infectious diseases and human impact on the Earth's ecosystems. The specific topics emphasized may vary from term to term.

This course offers insight into the science behind our current understanding of the Earth's climate system both past and present. By examining the workings of Earth's climate, students are offered insight into the potential for current human activities to alter climate with its biological and economic consequences. The major topics covered include an explanation of the current functioning of Earth's climate and its impact on biota. We also investigate long term fluctuations in climate driven by orbital factors, shorter term fluctuations (glacial events) and recorded/historical climate changes. The relationships between climate and flora, fauna and human activity is examined. Throughout, the presentation includes the history of science, present day understandings of science, linkages between branches of science and the impact of scientific knowledge on humankind. This course may be taken as part of the Peace and Conflict Studies minor.

NSC 109 ENERGY (3)
One of the most important challenges facing society in the 21st century involves the development of new ways to obtain energy from our environment and technologies to transform and use this energy. This course explores the topic of energy in many of its important forms. The course starts by examining the classical physics of energy. Various forms of potential and kinetic energy, such as motion, heat, light and electricity, and the energy of atoms are studied, as well as the theories and techniques of energy transformation. The course leads to an investigation of alternative energy sources, such as solar, biomass and wind power and will look at questions of sustainability, economics and societal impact of these new energy technologies.

HUM 221, 222 HUMANITIES 1, 2 (3 each)
The humanities courses are interdisciplinary in character, drawing on the disciplines of history, English, philosophy, art and music. The sequence examines the history of Western civilization to the present and acquaints students with questions of fundamental human concern such as: What dynamic has shaped western civilization? What is the "good life?" What is the "good society?" How should individuals think in terms of their relationship to God, the state, other people? Are individuals responsible for their actions? Music and art history are used to illustrate important cultural themes. The student, it is hoped, will acquire an intelligent frame of reference for Western civilization and confront important issues related to human values.
HUM 221, the first course in the sequence, begins with origins of civilization and follows the history of the West through the Renaissance. The second course in the sequence begins with the Reformation and follows the history of Western civilization up to the present. Prerequisite: ENG 110 or 120..

Thematic approach to current problems in U.S. society. The goals of the course are to help students understand the complexity of issues, to see how various disciplines analyze problems and arrive at solutions, to learn to read critically and sensitively and to consider ethical implications of the way society chooses to deal with the issues. Prerequisite: 15 hours of general education credit.

A critical examination is made of selected historical, philosophical and social problems and promises relevant to contemporary education. The intent is to provide students with readings and discussions which will encourage and enable them to establish a set of personal beliefs and commitments. The course is built around the idea that being reflective and critical is of strategic value as we seek to become enlightened about the problems and promises of modern education. Ten hours of field experience are required. Prerequisites: EDU 200, EDU 205 and junior or senior standing.

This course develops a framework for understanding and appreciating diversity and different cultures and provides a cross-cultural learning experience. Through this experience of immersion in another geographic and cultural setting, students are expected to 1) more fully understand and appreciate a culture other than their own and then reflect critically upon their own location within their cultural context, and 2) examine what it means to be a responsible citizen in the global community and grow in developing an ethic of justice, service and peacemaking. Normally completed during the student's sophomore or junior year.

Provides a forum for interdisciplinary examinations of ethics, community and the environment. Using a seminar format, it aims to help develop a framework for practicing global citizenship as informed by the peace church tradition. Designed to serve as the capstone for Bluffton University's general education curriculum, this course asks students to integrate their liberal arts studies, cross-cultural experiences and disciplinary perspectives in order to find ethical responses to community problems. Prerequisites: LAS 301 or EDU 332, LAS 342 and senior status.

Additional Liberal Arts and Sciences Courses

LAS 050 Applied College Skills (3) (only 2 count toward graduation) 
This course stresses reading and writing comprehension and skills. Students learn how to gain support from instructors and classmates, increase knowledge and improve skills needed for success in college, and are helped in their transition to college. The student must earn a grade of C- or above in order to be eligible to enroll for the following semester.

LAS 140 Portfolio Development (2)
This course guides students in preparing a portfolio for submission for college credit based on learning occurring outside the college or university environment.

LAS 205 Voluntary Service
Students who have participated in voluntary service for a significant period of time prior to attending college or during their college career may apply for academic credit for this experience. Maximum credit granted 12 semester hours.

LAS 390 Independent Study
(variable number of hours)

August 2013