Big Questions

A Big Question (BQ) is open-ended, taps into the heart of the discipline, provides an opportunity for integration and connection to personal/social/professional issues, and addresses the question of “what can I do with this learning?”

Video: Implementing Big Questions in Gen Ed courses

 link to PowerPoint download

Big Questions by Core and Breadth Areas (examples)

General Education Core

  • Composition

    • What is the value of research, writing, and argumentation for individuals and communities?
  • American Institutions

    • What role do other disciplines play in understanding U.S. history and today's world?
  • Quantitative Literacy

    • How does algebra provide a model of our way of making sense of the world? How does knowledge of mathematics help you make decisions?
  • Information Literacy

    • How can I distinguish science from pseudoscience and fact from fiction, and why is the distinction important?


General Education Breadth

  • Humanities and Creative Arts

    • Art: What impact does art have on the cultures around the world?
    • Interior Design: In a public environment (schools, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, businesses, etc.), does design matter?
    • Philosophy: What is the “good life”?
    • Communication: Who am I with Others?
    • English: How can the works of Shakespeare be relevant to a 21st century American audience?
    • Music: How has the music of other cultures influenced American culture and society?
    • Theatre: What makes musical theatre popular?
  • Social Science

    • Anthropology: What can the study of language teach us about humankind?
    • Child and Family Studies: How can human development theories be used to improve my understanding of myself and increase my compassion toward others?
    • Criminal Justice: What can I learn about criminal justice that I didn't already know from my favorite crime show or movie?
    • Economics: How are scarce resources allocated in an economy?
    • Geography: What makes a city/country a "happy place?"
    • Health Promotion: How do I live a healthy life?
    • History: Where does power come from in global history?
    • Honors: How is technology reshaping humanity?
    • Psychological Science: How can I sort out psychology myth or conventional wisdom from reality (e.g., scientifically-supported findings) regarding human relationships?
    • Sociology: How do we know what is a social problem?
    • Social Work: What is the role of personal awareness when working with diverse individuals, groups, communities and cultures?
    • Women and Gender Studies: How do feminist ideas help us to understand the experiences and perspectives of others?
  • Physical and Life Sciences

    • Botany: How do plants contribute to the quality of human life?
    • Geography: How can I contribute to an environmentally sustainable local/global community?
    • Geosciences: How do Earth processes define the hazards present in different places?
    • Honors: Is intelligence an evolutionary advantage?
    • Microbiology: How do microbes contribute to the quality of life?
    • Nutrition: How do personal diet and activity choices impact self and society?
    • Physics: How does the universe really work? How do observation and analysis work together in science?
    • Zoology: What is the importance of the diversity of animal life to human society?