A Statement of the Aims of Undergraduate Education at Dalhousie

Dalhousie University offers undergraduate education enriched by a longstanding institutional commitment to research and to graduate and professional education. The University tries to assist all its undergraduate students to become independent thinkers and articulate communicators, knowledgeable about their chosen disciplines or professions, conversant with a reasonable body of general knowledge, and committed to learning throughout their lives.

Dalhousie assists its students to learn how to think for themselves. Students in all disciplines and professions can expect to develop skills and attitudes crucial for logical and independent thought. The faculty strives to teach students how to think, rather than what to think, and to enable them to make fair-minded enquiries in their fields of study and into the broader ethical, cultural and social issues that shape our lives. An educated person thinks carefully, reconsiders received ideas, and leads an examined life. The development of these habits of mind is the primary goal of undergraduate study.

Dalhousie assists its students to learn to express themselves, orally and in writing with clarity, precision and style. It does so, not only because communication skills permit the efficient transfer of information, but also because they make possible dialogues which lead to new ideas and to deeper appreciation of existing knowledge. Because a communal effort to exchange ideas and information is at the heart of university life, students in all disciplines and professions need opportunities to develop their skills in writing and in speaking at all levels of the undergraduate curriculum.

Dalhousie assists its students to master a combination of specialized and general knowledge. The specialized knowledge acquired by undergraduates at Dalhousie varies from discipline to discipline and even from student to student. Such knowledge should include, not only data skills, but also an understanding of the theories, structures and processes central to the discipline or profession in question, and an awareness of their practical applications and ethical consequences. Undergraduate students at Dalhousie should become familiar with a significant body of general knowledge as well. All should become acquainted with concepts central to our own culture and those of others. All should acquire basic quantitative skills and some knowledge of the principles of science and technology. All should share a sense of history and an appreciation of achievements in literature, philosophy and the arts. Such general knowledge helps us not only to confront the practical demands of work and life, but also to comprehend more fully our experience of the human condition.

Dalhousie assists its students to develop the capacity for commitment to learning throughout their lives. Their educational experiences within and outside the classroom should be rich and diverse. By providing social, cultural, recreational and other opportunities for student involvement and leadership, Dalhousie acknowledges responsibility for promoting both personal and intellectual growth.

Approved by Senate, September 10, 1990