University Studies Program Overview

Freshman Inquiry - Exploration

Freshman Inquiry (FRINQ) forms the foundation for the University Studies program. This year-long sequence of courses introduces students to Portland State's general education goals and to the opportunities available in university life. FRINQ courses are interactive and theme-based, with each theme exploring topics and issues using an interdisciplinary approach to show how they can be understood from different perspectives. Faculty members from various disciplines teach courses as a team. Each faculty member is paired with an upper division student, or peer mentor, who leads the smaller mentor inquiry sessions. Classes include lecture and group dialogue on course content, student-led discussions based on homework assignments, and creative opportunities to challenge and expand thinking.

Sophomore Inquiry - Communication

In Sophomore Inquiry, students continue to build communication skills through class dialogue, individual and group presentations, and writing/research projects. Emphasis on the human experience, inquiry and critical thinking, and ethical and social responsibility is continually integrated into the curriculum. Sophomore Inquiry is an opportunity to explore topics of interest that are different from, yet complementary to, the students' majors.

Upper Division Cluster - Individualization

Upper Division Cluster courses from a variety of disciplines call upon the skills and knowledge students have developed in their lower division University Studies courses. By this time in their academic career(s), students are expected to be proficient in writing, research, discussion, computer and inquiry skills. In Upper Division Cluster courses, students gain a rich, in-depth study of their chosen topic. Additionally, in this part of the University Studies program, students can design an individualized program based on the theme they found most interesting in their Sophomore Inquiry courses, and what will best support their overall academic goals.

Senior Capstone - Cooperation

Senior Capstone is the culmination of the University Studies program. Capstone courses are designed to build cooperative learning communities by taking students out of the classroom and into the field. In Capstone courses students bring together the knowledge, skills, and interests developed to this point through all aspects of their education, to work on a community project. Students from a variety of majors and backgrounds work as a team, pooling resources, and collaborating with faculty and community leaders to understand and find solutions for issues that are important to them as literate and engaged citizens.