Search Google Appliance

Sophomore Inquiry & Upper Division Clusters

Sophomore Inquiry (SINQ) and Upper Division Cluster courses focus on an array of interdisciplinary subject areas which complement a student’s major.

Sophomore Inquiry (SINQ) and Upper Division Cluster courses are interrelated, with an individual SINQ being the gateway to each Cluster (See Program Map.) For students who began University Studies at the freshman or sophomore level, all Upper Division Cluster courses must be selected from a Cluster that links directly to one of the student's SINQ courses. For all students (including transfer students not required to take SINQ), University Studies credit will be given only for Cluster courses taken from the same Cluster.   



Sophomore Inquiry (SINQ) courses are gateway classes that introduce students to the concepts, questions, methods, and other content that are to be further explored in the Upper Division Cluster.  Sophomore Inquiry is an opportunity to explore topics of interest that are different from a student’s major.  Like Freshman Inquiry, faculty led courses are augmented once per week by mentored inquiry sessions.  These courses do not need to be taken in any order.  (See our Program Map for more information.)  All SINQ course themes are listed below.  Follow the links to get more information about the SINQ and Cluster.



In Upper Division Cluster courses, students gain a rich, in-depth study of the thematic lines of inquiry introduced in SINQ. Through their choice of Cluster courses students can design an individualized plan of study based on the theme they found most interesting in their Sophomore Inquiry courses, and what will best support their overall academic goals. Courses in your major department or used to satisfy the requirements for a first major cannot be used to meet the cluster requirement.


·         Follow the links below to see which courses are associated with each cluster.

·         Your adviser can help you choose the best cluster.

·         Consider using Cluster courses to complete part of a minor.




All students who began University Studies with Freshman Inquiry are required to take three Sophomore Inquiry (SINQ) courses. Transfer students take one, two, or three SINQ courses depending on the number of transfer credits they bring to Portland State University.  All students will select three (3) classes from the same Upper Division Cluster to complete this portion of the University Studies requirement. 


All SINQ courses are listed in the UNST section of the schedule of classes.

When looking up classes in banweb (MyPSU), Cluster courses are listed with a “U” following their course number.


Not all courses are offered every term.  See the course planning guide to find out when courses are going to be offered. 



SINQ / Clusters:

SINQ course description below.  Follow the link to see a list of the courses associated with each cluster.

Note: This listing is current for the 2013 - 2014 Course Listings.  If you are looking for Cluster Listings for 2012 - 2013, they are archived here.

·         American Identities:  As the interdisciplinary study of American Culture, the course focuses on a comparison of "voices" or perspectives as a way of knowing American artifacts, policies, and places.

·         Community Studies:  This course addresses social structural issues of communities embedded in their spatial, political, and economic contexts.

·         Environmental Sustainability:  This course introduces students to the study of environmental sustainability, and to the ways in which a wide variety of disciplines address environmental issues.

·         Families And Society:  This introductory course in contemporary family issues is designed to provide a broad exploration of the family, emphasizing the current social, cultural, and political forces affecting urban families. 

·         Freedom, Privacy, & Technology: Privacy and freedom are highly valued, and are to some extent protected by the U.S. Constitution. Recent rapid advance in science and technology, combined with compelling motives to use this technology to control and exploit aspects of human life ….

·         Gender and Sexualities Studies:  The overall objectives of the SINQ are to introduce students to women and gender studies and sexuality studies and queer theory, including major theoretical approaches, and to enable students to create what feminists call praxis, or the application of theory to practice, through a closer look at selected topics such as sexual violence, body image, gender performance, and queer identity narratives.

·         Global Environmental Change:  This course will provide enough content and description of the global system for students to have a conceptual framework to do further studies on global environmental change. 

·         Global Perspectives:  Each SINQ will focus on the culture, history, geography, politics, and economy of a specific region of the world, but each will introduce a set of basic concepts that are intended to provide common ground for students continuing on in the upper division courses of the cluster.

·         Healthy People/Healthy Places:  This sophomore inquiry will examine the nature and state of healthy individuals in their various environments.  Topics will focus on ways to solve and prevent problems that may affect the health and wellbeing of the individual, the local environment and/or the global community.

·         Interpreting the Past:  The Interpreting the Past SINQ investigates a historical theme or period in order to give students the necessary tools to deepen their understanding of our shared human heritage in the cluster classes. 

·         Knowledge, Values and Rationality:  The theme of the cluster is the nature of rationality and its emergence from the interplay of knowledge and values.  

·         Leading Social Change:  This course will provide a foundation of leadership theory and will examine models of leadership in relation to the theory and concepts of change. 

·         Popular Culture:  In this course, students begin to study popular culture through observation, reflection, description, and critical thinking in order to gain a deeper understanding of the popular myths surrounding everyday life. 

·         Science in the Liberal Arts:  This course is designed to provide a methodological and interdisciplinary perspective on science and engage students in the collaborative scientific investigation of problems of the sort they might encounter as attentive citizens. 

For additional questions about SINQ & Cluster courses, please contact the University Studies office at (503) 725-5890.