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Integrative Core

Integrative Core

The mission of the University of Mount Union is "to prepare students for fulfilling lives, meaningful work, and responsible citizenship." To accomplish this mission, the University draws upon its roots in a historic understanding of the liberal arts. A liberal arts education provides students with a broad base of knowledge in addition to training a specific field of study. At its heart, a liberal arts course of study does not teach a single point of view but equips and empowers students to form their own conclusions based on critical reasoning. The Integrative Core (IC) values this tradition of learning.


The Integrative Core is a distinctive program designed to prepare students to meet the challenges of the 21st century world. It provides a framework for them to experience and shape a coherent and transformative education grounded in the liberal arts. Graduates can no longer expect to interact with the same demographic group and hold one job in the same discipline for their entire career. Integrative and synthetic thinking are more and progressively important for people to succeed personally and professionally in an increasingly interconnected world, in which cultures interact, technology changes rapidly, and the workplace is fluid. The Integrative Core guides students through developing the ability to think across and within different disciplines, contexts, and cultures. 


The Integrative Core comprises eight courses totaling 32 credit hours of coursework.  These courses include: 

  • One First Year Seminar taken in the first semester
  • Four Foundations courses (one from each of the four Foundations areas – humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and arts) that should be completed by the end of the sophomore year
  • Raider Foundations Portfolio submission (should be completed by the end of the sophomore year)
  • Two Explorations courses taken during the junior year
  • One Capstone course taken during the senior year

Eligible students will also have the potential to graduate with University Honors through the Honors Program

For any questions regarding the Raider Foundations Portfolio, email or visit the Integrative Core office in KHIC 233.

Integrative Core Components

  1. First Year Seminar

    The First Year Seminar (4 semester hours) is a topic-oriented course designed to assist students in making the academic and personal transition to higher education and launch them on their journeys through liberal education in a small, interactive class. It introduces and develops core abilities such as critical reading, thinking, argumentation and the written and oral communication skills needed to convey these ideas to appropriate audiences.

  2. Foundations

    Foundations (16 semester hours) courses engage students in the quest for knowledge as embodied by the particular perspectives comprising the liberal arts and sciences: Fine Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences. The courses focus on three core ideas: What questions does this perspective ask about the world? How does it go about answering them? Why is this perspective important? They equip students with different lenses through which to understand, analyze, and appreciate the world around them. Students take at least one course in each Foundation category. Foundation courses are identified with the appropriate suffix: A for Fine Arts, H for Humanities, N for Natural Science, S for Social Science.

  3. Raider Foundations Portfolio (RFP)

    The Integrative Core is designed to help students develop skills in written and oral communication throughout their academic careers at Mount Union. Each part of the IC contains a written and oral communication component, with more sophisticated and challenging requirements as students progress through the IC. In order to make sure that the development of communication skills is on the right track, successful completion of the IC requires successful completion of a Second Year Raider Foundations Portfolio (RFP). Students will upload samples of written work and videos of oral communication assignments to an electronic portfolio. A team of faculty members will evaluate the portfolios to ensure that each student has met the high standards needed for communication needs at the junior and senior years. A student must be able to perform at a level commensurate with end-of-second-year students. Students are expected to submit the RFP by the end of their 4th semester. The portfolio must be completed successfully prior to enrollment in the IC Capstone.

    Students will select materials from the many assignments completed in Integrative Core courses from the First Year Seminar through all four Foundations (A, H, N and S). Materials from other courses are not typically permitted. Required contents: 

    • Two pieces of written communication (at least one that effectively integrates and cites sources) that reflect the elements listed in the RFP Rubrics.
    • Two pieces of videotaped oral communication (at least one that effectively integrates and cites sources) that reflect the elements listed in the RFP Rubrics (multimedia use is optional).

    In addition, students will submit three other documents to complete the portfolio: 

    • Students will write and submit a cover letter that explains the context in which the submitted pieces were produced. The cover letter should guide faculty scorers to see how the portfolio as a whole showcases the student’s best efforts in written and oral communication to date. 
    • Students will sign and submit a Statement of Authenticity, testifying that all submitted pieces are of the student’s own creation. 
    • Students will sign and submit an Informed Consent Form, which gives students the opportunity to give the University permission to use selected materials for assessment, research, and scholarly purposes pertaining to written and oral communication in the Integrative Core.

    No more than two pieces in the portfolio may come from the same class or Foundation area. Students typically will be expected to submit work from at least three different types of classes. Students may revise work from their IC classes before submitting it to the Second Year RFP. Students will select pieces on their own, write the cover letter, and submit the portfolio; this is not a requirement attached to any course. The Second Year RFP is due by 4 p.m. on the last day of finals each semester. No late portfolios will be accepted. 


    For all information on the RFP including the requirements and instructions for building and submitting the portfolio, log onto D2L, go to My Courses => Ongoing => Raider Foundations Portfolio Resources.


    For any questions regarding the RFP, email or visit the Integrative Core office in KHIC 233. 

  4. Explorations

    Explorations (8 semester hours) are a pair of courses at the intermediate to upper-level (typically 200-300) that align with Mount Union’s mission to prepare students for fulfilling lives, meaningful work, and responsible citizenship. Specifically, the courses engage students in self-reflection about how they evaluate and apply knowledge (looking inward) and their place in a diverse world (looking outward). These courses also will help students develop more sophisticated written and oral communication skills, employ advanced critical thinking, encourage complex problem solving, and acquire cultural knowledge that is essential for contributing to society.

    Students must complete one course in each category. Explorations prerequisite: Successful completion of all four Foundations courses or the RFP. Explorations credit may only be earned for a course if this prerequisite is completed prior to the commencement of the course. Students may “double-count” an Explorations course to meet a major or minor requirement. However, a student cannot count both Explorations courses towards the same major or minor.

    Explorations: Diversity and Global Learning (G)
    We live in an increasingly diverse world. Exposure to diverse populations and cultures challenges us to address and overcome cultural barriers, better refine our perspective on cultural difference, and have a better sense of our own cultural identity (AAC&U). Courses in the Explorations: Diversity and Global Learning category will enable students to engage multiple perspectives of cultures and identities, reflect on their own cultural self-understanding, and develop empathy across human difference, making them better global citizens.

    Explorations: Values and Reasoning (V)
    Throughout our lives we develop a set of values, ethical perspectives, and approaches to reasoning. These values, perspectives, and approaches shape how we perceive what is true, what is real, and how we make judgments. Courses in the Explorations: Values and Reasoning category will help students understand how processes of reasoning and value systems are developed and applied to complex situations, as well as the implications of thinking and acting a certain way (e.g., ethics, morality, the integration of technology into our work and life, ecological ethics and sustainability, social responsibility).

  5. Senior Capstone

    The Senior Capstone (4 semester hours) builds on the Explorations by moving the students from faculty-guided synthesis to student-led integration. Students from different disciplines will collaborate to address a complex issue or problem. This course prepares students for dealing with the types of ambiguous, multifaceted problems that they will face throughout their lives and careers equipping them with resources to address such issues, especially the ability to work collaboratively across disciplines and to negotiate competing interests and worldviews. Prerequisites: Successful completion of the Second Year Raider Foundations Portfolio, and all other Integrative Core requirements.   

  6. Transfer Students

    Integrative Core Transfer Credit  

    The Mount Union curriculum is transfer friendly and helps you get the most out of your previously earned credits. For courses to transfer, they must have been earned at a regionally accredited institution, reflect a grade of "C" or higher, and be in an equivalent program offered by Mount. Official transcripts will be the basis for determining what transfer credit will be accepted by the University of Mount Union; such determination will be made by the Office of the University Registrar at the time of admission on a course-by-course basis.  The Integrative Core courses at the University of Mount Union include First Year Seminar (4 semester hours); four Foundations courses with one course from each of the following areas:   Humanities, Fine Arts, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences (16 semester hours); two Explorations courses with one course from each of the following areas:  Diversity and Global Learning, and Values and Reasoning (8 semester hours); and a Senior Capstone (4 semester hours).  First Year Seminar (FYS) 100/105 will be waived for all transfer students; however, transfer students must earn credit for either TRF 100 or TRF 200 in lieu of FYS 100/105.  Transfer students must take TRF 100 or TRF 200 in their first semester.  Credit for two of the four Foundations courses must be earned at the University of Mount Union unless the transfer student has earned 48 credit hours or more of transfer credit. Credit for both Explorations courses and the Senior Capstone course must be earned at the University of Mount Union.  Therefore, up to 4 semester hours of First Year Seminar, 16 semester hours of Foundations courses, 0 credit hours of Explorations courses, and 0 credit hours of the Senior Capstone can be accepted as transfer credit in the Integrative Core.  Transfer students who have earned an associate degree from a regionally accredited institution have fulfilled the Integrative Core Foundations course requirements and the RFP.  Credits that meet other requirements, but not those of Integrative Core, may still be accepted as elective credit. 


    Transfer Students’ Raider Foundations Portfolio (RFP) Requirements

    Transfer students who have earned an associate degree from a regionally accredited institution have fulfilled the RFP requirements.  At the time of initial matriculation, transfer students who enter the University with 48 or more earned credit hours but not an associate degree are expected to complete the RFP (or equivalent) within one semester at the University of Mount Union.  Transfer Students who enter the University with 32-47 credit hours are expected to complete the RFP (or equivalent) within two semesters; transfer students who enter the University with 17-31 earned credit hours are expected to complete the RFP (or equivalent) within three semesters; and transfer students who enter the University with 1-16 earned credit hours are expected to complete the RFP (or equivalent) within four semesters at the University of Mount Union. commended Mount Union has been cited by for having one of the top integrative studies programs, securing the  13th spot in the nation in the current rankings, which highlights the institution's Integrative Core. According to, interest in integrative studies has risen as academics, organizations and students recognize the value of engaging in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary learning. These types of degrees equip students with a wide range of knowledge as well as the critical and analytical skills needed to be successful in the workforce.