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Gateway to Belonging at OU

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First-Year Experience General Education Requirement

At the heart of everything we do at OU is the student experience. To prepare our students to be the best leaders of tomorrow, we have crafted an intentional educational pathway that best equips them to enter society as leaders who understand the world around them and are able to navigate it with respect and dignity for all.

In this endeavor, beginning in fall 2021, the University of Oklahoma now requires all incoming students to complete a First-Year Experience course to meet the Core V General Education requirement (3 credit hours).

No student will be required to take a specific course; all students will be able to choose from among three courses to fulfill this requirement. The first course, Gateway to Belonging at OU, will be offered starting in fall 2021. Two additional courses will be added in fall 2022 that will also meet the requirement.

First-Year Experience Course Options

Gateway to Belonging at OU - UCOL 1523

Gateway to Belonging at OU - UCOL 1523 (to be offered as a pilot course beginning in fall 2021) – This course teaches critical thinking skills and supports students in developing a true understanding of others, as well as a sense of belonging at OU and beyond. It offers students an opportunity to consider how they have formed their own beliefs and opinions and how they can listen, learn, and interact with one another to gain the most from their college experience in preparation for their future. The course is built around five core objectives:

  • Cultural Fluency: Students will gain an understanding of diverse perspectives from people of different abilities, identities, cultures, and social backgrounds.
  • Critical Thinking: Students will explore how they have formed their opinions and beliefs about themselves and others and determine the difference between beliefs, values, opinions, and facts.
  • Civil Discourse: Students will master practical skills to interact with others of different beliefs and backgrounds and engage in civil discourse and learn that they can disagree with humility and integrity and a willingness to learn from one another.
  • Citizenship: Students will study the important historical dynamics and legacies in the U.S., and the ways in which they shape our experience of belonging and community.
  • Community Engagement: Students will discover ways to create a shared vision and values for an inclusive, equitable culture on our campus and beyond, and practice engagement on campus and in the wider community.

Global Perspectives and Engagement

Global Perspectives and Engagement (to be offered beginning in fall 2022) – Similar to the 3Cs (cross-cultural competency) training our military and state department personnel undergo when deployed to a foreign country, this course promotes an intercultural awareness that will allow students to interact more effectively with others. It will teach core cultural fluency competencies, including an understanding of different cultural norms and practices, cross-cultural communication, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving, drawing upon diverse experiences and perspectives. The knowledge, skills, and tools students acquire in this course will assist them throughout their careers as they move in an increasingly global world.

Ethical Leadership Development

Ethical Leadership Development (to be offered beginning in fall 2022) – This course will promote leadership skills through the study of virtues, focusing on nine key character traits that reflect the moral identity and the educational mission of OU. Focal virtues include the intellectual virtues of open-mindedness, curiosity, and intellectual humility; the executive virtues of self-regulation, perseverance, and honesty; and the civic virtues of civility, fairness, and compassion. These virtues are crucial for academic success and for the flourishing of students and the OU community.

All three courses will share the course objectives of cultural fluency, critical thinking, civil discourse, citizenship, and community engagement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Gateway to Belonging at OU (UCOL 1523) is a 3 credit-hour course that meets the First-Year Experience Core V General Education requirement. The course is built around five core objectives – cultural fluency, critical thinking, civil discourse, citizenship, and community engagement – and supports students in developing a true understanding of others as well as a sense of belonging at OU and beyond.

No; students are not required to take the course. Gateway to Belonging at OU (UCOL 1523) is currently the only offered course that meets the First-Year Experience Core V General Education requirement. Two additional courses will be added in fall 2022 that will also meet the requirement: Global Perspectives and Engagement, and Ethical Leadership Development (described in more detail above). Students entering OU in the fall of 2021 have until graduation to fulfill the Core V general education requirement. Beginning in the fall of 2022, new students will be required to complete one of these courses in their first year.

The First-Year Experience course meets the Core V General Education requirement, which is 3 credit hours. This suite of courses is designed to cultivate cultural fluency, critical thinking, civil discourse, citizenship, and community engagement. We believe that these skills are essential preparation for students’ success, both at OU and in the world, and will positively impact campus climate and the larger society.

The First-Year Experience is designed as a gateway to the University of Oklahoma, where a multitude of perspectives are welcomed and valued. We seek to build a place of belonging that offers recognition and respect to all its members, understanding that this demands a willingness from all of us to foster understanding and empathy, both inside and outside the classroom. Understanding and valuing the many cultures, identities, and perspectives of our OU community is an essential foundation to the rest of the education students will receive at OU. It lies at the heart of what we aim to achieve in our general education curriculum.

The First-Year Experience course will positively impact student success – not only during their time at OU, but as a gateway to their futures. Student success in today’s world, regardless of their major, demands that students understand others and be able to engage constructively in civil discourse. They must acquire the intercultural knowledge and cultural fluency that will assist them throughout their careers as they move in an increasingly global world. Moreover, a common educational experience focused on creating an inclusive community will foster a sense of belonging that will positively impact students’ experience here at OU.

Students entering OU in fall 2021 have until graduation to fulfill the First-Year Experience Core V General Education requirement. Students entering OU in fall 2022 will be required to complete one of these courses in their first year.