Habits of Mind

By choosing a major in the College of Arts and Sciences, you’ve chosen to embrace your curiosity, your desire to explain and understand those curiosities, your creative spirit, your commitment to acting ethically and responsibly, and your dedication to self-improvement and growth. As you progress in your undergraduate career, you’ll find that realizing those values will result in the emergence of important intellectual and social skills that will serve you throughout your life. Your curiosity will develop into learning how to ask good questions and think critically. Your desire to seek explanations will evolve in recognizing the importance of evidence; tolerating ambiguity and perspectives that differ from yours; appreciating complexity; communicating clearly and effectively; considering social, physical, and cultural contexts; and working creatively and collaboratively with others. The development of these skills from deeply held values is a transformative process that characterizes a liberal arts education; the continuing practice of these skills leads to the acquisition of Habits of Mind.

You’ve set yourself on intertwined paths: toward deep knowledge in your particular major and wide-ranging experience with the habits of mind unique to the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics. As you acquire knowledge and experiences, your ability to ask questions, think critically about them, and produce answers will be refined and renewed by what you learn in your field and across the curriculum, which in turn transforms your understanding of your major, your minor, and the ways of thinking you encounter. As you progress, you’ll find that the solutions to problems often lead to new questions. This trajectory takes you to a new place where you will be better able to embrace complexity and make even greater achievements. By engaging with the liberal arts and sciences, you will develop the Habits of Mind to continue this cycle of intellectual and personal growth for the rest of your life.

  • Seeking explanations for natural and mathematical phenomena
  • Evaluating hypotheses, theories, arguments, and claims on the basis of evidence and logic
  • Tolerating uncertainty and complexity in natural and mathematical systems
  • Communicating ideas with words, numbers, symbols, and pictures
  • Considering the impact of scientific discoveries on individuals and society
  • Reflecting on the personal, historical, cultural, and social contexts in which scientific inquiry occurs
  • Asking informed questions; thinking logically, theoretically, and systematically; evaluating evidence; and embracing complexity
  • Recognizing that our understanding of the social world reflects and is shaped by our distinct experiences, biases, identities, and wisdom
  • Critically examining multiple viewpoints, including our own, and seeing the relationships among them
  • Improving how we express our ideas in writing and speaking
  • Working collaboratively to solve problems
  • Using expertise to improve the world as productive and engaged citizens
  • Recognizing that one has a responsibility to contribute to social betterment
  • Empathizing with others as a means toward understanding differences, opening dialogue with others, and becoming a critical and engaged individual and social agent
  • Collaborating with others to fuel the free exchange of ideas and artistic expression
  • Imagining alternatives to the status quo and using creativity and innovation to cultivate positive social change
  • Critically appraising historical and contemporary contexts to better understand the dynamics of political power and social relations
  • Engaging with the world through artistry, creativity, and performance