SEARCH - Liberal Arts Core Overview 


SEARCH is the name of Alvernia University’s General Education program. The SEARCH curriculum is grounded in the liberal arts tradition of rigorous, open inquiry into the Enduring Questions that shape the human experience. Enduring Questions  explore the human condition and the relationship of humans with self, other, different species, environment, and God. Students are exposed to the nature of this inquiry from a variety of disciplines. 


SEARCH Liberal Arts Curriculum


First-Year SEARCH Curriculum: Enduring Questions (12 credits)

SRH 101 SEARCH Seminar: Enduring Questions or HNR 160 Honors Seminar – 3 credits
Designed specifically for new college students, FYS promotes academic success, personal growth and community engagement by emphasizing the expectations and values of Alvernia’s academic community. All students entering with fewer than 15 credits of transferable college work must meet the First Year Seminar requirement.

COM 101 Composition and Research – 3 credits
This foundational course develops writing and research skills. Students must achieve a "C" or better to fulfill general education requirements (certain majors may require a higher minimum grade). Prerequisite: COM 100 (“C” or better) or placement by departmental faculty.

THE 105 Foundations of Theology – 3 credits
Students examine the nature of religion and its relation to other areas of human experience.

PHI 105 Introduction to Philosophy – 3 credits
A historical introduction to the fundamental problems and methods of philosophy based on readings in ancient, medieval and modern literature.

Mid-Level Liberal Arts Exploration (28/29 credits)

Exploring the Natural World - 

Lab Science – 3-4 credits
Students practice scientific inquiry as a means for learning about life by completing 3-4 credits of lab science in Biology, Chemistry or Physics.

Mathematics – 3 credits
To develop mathematical proficiency and applications in contemporary life, students complete 3 credits in mathematics other than MAT 100.

Culture and Language - 

World Languages – 6 credits
Six credits in sequence in one world language (other than English) promote an appreciation of language and culture in a diverse world.

Human Diversity – one course
Students complete one Human Diversity (D) designate course to develop sensitivity towards the richness of cultures in the United States and worldwide in our increasingly interdependent global community.

Communication – 3 credits
Students practice the art of effective communication in all forms by completing 3 credits in a communication course other than COM 100 and COM 101.

Individuals and Communities - 

History and Political Science – 3 credits
Students complete 3 credits from History or Political Science to cultivate analysis of societies, political systems, and cultures of all eras.

Social and Behavioral Sciences – 3 credits
Students develop problem-solving strategies in analyzing and gaining an understanding of human behavior and social interaction by completing 3 credits in Psychology, History, Political Science, Sociology, Social Sciences or Economics.

Community Service – 40 hours
Service and civic engagement is central to the mission of Alvernia University. Students complete 40 community service hours through credit-bearing service-learning courses, service trips and/or volunteer work. Community Service hours are pro-rated for transfer students based on the credits accepted in transfer.

Creative Expressions - 

Literature – 3 credits
Students complete 3 credits in any ENG or other designated LIT course to gain an appreciation of human expression manifested in literature.

Fine and Performing Arts – 3 credits
Promoting an awareness of creative process and creativity, students complete 3 credits in art, music or theatre courses other than FA 100.

Ethical Leaders & Followers (6 credits)

Theology or Philosophy – 3 credits
Building upon the First-Year Core Curriculum, students advance their studies by completing one Theology or Philosophy course at the 200-400 level. THE 105 or PHI 105 is a prerequisite.

Ethics and Morality – 3 credits
Advancing the examination of ethical leadership and moral courage, students complete one 200-400 level Philosophy or Theology course designated Ethics (E). THE 105 or PHI 105 is a prerequisite.

Concentrated Paths of Knowledge

Students continue their exploration of Enduring Questions and supplement study in their major by choosing from three paths of knowledge designed to integrate learning and promote problem-solving at more advanced levels. This allows students to synthesize disparate knowledge that is gained in individual classes into a richer, more holistic view of the world.

Students are called upon to approach Enduring Questions either from the perspective of multiple disciplines guided by a particular theme (Multidisciplinary Studies - MS), through an interdisciplinary content area (Interdisciplinary Studies - IS), or focusing on one discipline and conducting in-depth disciplinary inquiry (In-Depth Disciplinary Studies - DS).

Each question poses its own puzzle. In Multidisciplinary Studies, each discipline addresses a small piece of that puzzle. By studying a variety of disciplines can students begin to form a clear image of the entirety of the question; In Interdisciplinary Studies, the very nature of the questions is developed from the intersection of various disciplines and approaches. In In-Depth Disciplinary Studies, students can delve deeper into several questions that pertain to that area.

At Alvernia University, the paths allow students to build upon the disciplinary knowledge gained in the core curriculum and their chosen field, incorporating the spirit of the Franciscan mission of the University by fostering collaboration and cooperation.

Path 1: Interdisciplinary Study (IS)
Three courses, at least two from Liberal Arts disciplines, at the 200-400 level from the interdisciplinary minors of Women & Gender Studies or Community and E nvironmental Sustainability.

Path 2: Multidisciplinary Study (MS)
Three courses, at least two from Liberal Arts disciplines, at the 200-400 level employing multiple disciplinary perspectives to explore one of the following themes: Cultural & Global Studies, Imagination & Creativity, Peace & Conflict, Poverty & Wealth or Sustainability, Science & Technology. Thematic courses are listed below.

Path 3: In - depth Disciplinary Study (DS)
Three courses at the 200-400 level in one Liberal Arts discipline other than one’s major, guided by common ideas and methods of inquiry. Students choose from Art, Biology, Chemistry, Communication, Economics, English, History, Mathematics, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Theology, Theatre and World Languages. This path may be used to give students a firm foundation in a discipline supporting their chosen major, or to pursue an interest in one of the Liberal Arts disciplines.

SENIOR CAPSTONE – one course
One capstone designated course (CAP), typically within the major. Designated Capstone courses will incorporate reflection on a student’s academic journey through the SEARCH curriculum.

Human Diversity - Designated Courses

D – Human Diversity
Students complete one Human Diversity (D) designate course to develop sensitivity towards the richness of cultures in the United States and worldwide in our increasingly interdependent global community.


Undergraduate Programs

Education Rooted in Mission
Dr. Victoria Williams, associate professor of political science, shares how Alvernia's SEARCH program is rooted in the Franciscan Mission and Values.
A Student's Perspective
Occupational Therapy student Kat Demaisap '20 discusses the value of a liberal arts education.
Value for Professionals
An Alvernia grad discusses the value of a liberal arts education in the world today.