Sophomore Inquiry (SINQ)

Sophomore Inquiry (SINQ) courses act as a gateway to an Upper Division Cluster, introducing you to concepts, questions, methods, and other content that you can explore more deeply in thematically linked cluster courses.  SINQ is an opportunity to explore topics of interest that are different from, yet complementary to, your major.

While each SINQ course is different, they all emphasize communication skills through class dialogue, individual and group presentations, and writing/research projects, as well as diversity, inquiry and critical thinking, and ethical and social responsibility.

You can double dip your UNST courses and your minor. So think ahead and explore the connections between SINQs/Clusters and minors before deciding which SINQ courses to take.

All students who began UNST with Freshman Inquiry (FRINQ) as of Fall 2022 are required to take two (2) different SINQ courses (prior catalog years may require three (3) SINQs). SINQ requirements for transfer students are determined by the number of credits transferred upon admission to PSU. A co-requisite weekly 50-minute Mentor Session, led by a Graduate Peer Mentor, is connected with each SINQ course.


Junior Clusters

Each Upper Division Cluster offers students an array of choices from a wide variety of academic departments all related to an overarching theme or subject matter. As you plan for your cluster you may use your courses to complete a minor or certificate, explore topics of interest outside of your major, or just try something completely new.

One way to make the most of this part of your education is to think about how best to complement the work you are doing in your major.  A conversation with a departmental adviser or Cluster Coordinator can help to optimize your experience.

Students who began University Studies at the freshman or sophomore level must select an Upper-Division Cluster. Beginning in Fall 2022, the Upper Division Cluster does not need to link to any of the SINQ courses the student has taken, although it is recommended. Students transferring as juniors or seniors must be select three courses from the list associated with one Cluster.

Courses in your major department used to satisfy the requirements for a first major cannot be used to meet the cluster requirements. 

If you are interested in double-dipping Cluster courses to meet minor requirements, you can explore your options through each of the links below.


American Identities (UNST 212)

Using historical and contemporary voices, this class explores how traditions and tensions within the United States and North America shape its cultures and sense of being "American." 


Understanding Communities (UNST 220)

This course explores the nature of communities, whether defined spatially or as a set of ties based on sharing a common interest. 

This Sophomore Inquiry is linked to the Community Studies Cluster.

2 Students looking at laptop.

Design Thinking (UNST 222)

This course intends to excite students about the power of Design Thinking through hands-on experiences and equip them with the basic skills needed to use it. 

Two students gardening.

Environmental Sustainability (UNST 224)

A sustainable human society is one that satisfies its needs without jeopardizing the opportunity of future generations to satisfy theirs. 

Outdoor Gathering.

Families and Society (UNST 228)

Current social, cultural, and political forces will be emphasized in creating a knowledge foundation for the study of human development and exploration of family issues from diverse perspectives.

Student sitting with laptop.

Freedom, Privacy, and Technology (UNST 230)

This class is an opportunity to step back and consider the question of what is privacy? How is privacy constructed culturally? 

Portland sign.

Gender and Sexualities Studies (UNST 231)

This course provides a framework for thinking critically about the historical and contemporary applications of gender and sexuality.


Global Environmental Change (UNST 232)

The course will discuss the physical, chemical, and biological changes in the earth’s environment in the past, present, and future.

People walking on crosswalk.

Global Perspectives (UNST 233)

Each Global Perspectives SINQ will focus on the culture, history, geography, politics, and economy of a specific region of the world.

3 students walking.

Healthy People/Healthy Places (UNST 234)

 A dynamic approach will be used to study the places in which people live and interact, such as the community, the workplace, and the natural environment. 

View of Portland in Black and White.

Interpreting the Past (UNST 236)

Through the interrogation of primary sources and analysis of evidence, students learn to set aside modern assumptions and biases and instead engage issues in their historical context.


Knowledge, Values, Rationality (UNST 239)

This course invites students to think critically about their value decisions, factual beliefs, policies that govern local institutions, and the norms and principles of the culture and society they represent and inhabit.

Portland sign.

Leading Social Change (UNST 242)

This course is a community-based learning course in which students will work on an issue facing their community and use that work to inform their analysis of leadership and social change.

3 students walking.

Examining Popular Culture (UNST 254)

Students will analyze how popular culture artifacts reflect and influence the social, cultural, historical, and commercial contexts of our everyday lives.

Student looking at plant.

Natural Science Inquiry (UNST 286)

Natural Science Inquiry is designed to engage students in scientific inquiries of problems of the sort they might encounter as an attentive citizen.

This Sophomore Inquiry is linked to the Science in Social Context Cluster.