Our Courses

The Department of Focused Inquiry's core course offerings are made up of UNIV 111, UNIV 112 and UNIV 200. These courses are about asking questions. Good questions. Thoughtful questions. Probing questions. And all kinds of questions: What is the meaning of justice? Are pharmaceutical companies responsible for the opioid epidemic? Why is there a decline in the global birth rate? What is the cultural function of cosplay?

All Focused Inquiry courses involve the five core skill areas of Focused Inquiry and your General Education studies here at VCU:

  • Communicative Fluency
  • Ethical Reasoning
  • Global and Cultural Responsiveness
  • Information Literacy
  • Problem Solving (Critical and Creative)

UNIV 111

As the first part of a three-semester course sequence, UNIV 111 builds the foundational skills essential for success in both your chosen field of study at VCU and in your profession. We think about what makes a good question. We think hard about the meanings of the questions we ask and about what kinds of evidence might answer those questions, whichever way the evidence leads. We place our questions within relevant historical and cultural contexts (global and cultural responsiveness), and we critically and creatively think about how our questions help to answer the many problems around us (problem solving). 

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UNIV 112

As the second part of a two-semester course sequence, UNIV 112 (Focused Inquiry II) continues to build the foundational skills essential for success in your chosen field of study at VCU and in your professional and civic life. We think about what makes a good question. We think hard about the meanings of the questions we ask and about what kinds of evidence might answer those questions, whichever way the evidence leads. We place our questions within relevant historical and cultural contexts (global and cultural responsiveness), and we critically and creatively think about how our questions help to answer the many problems around us (problem solving). We then find credible evidence in reliable sources and critically interpret that evidence (information literacy). We also ask ethical questions—questions about what we should or should not do—and consider how our values and the values of others inform the way we grapple with those questions (ethical reasoning). And we use communication—individually and collectively, written and spoken, in a variety of contexts—to not only inform and persuade, but to also help us answer our questions, create knowledge, and share meaning (communicative fluency).

UNIV 200

UNIV 200 builds on the skills you developed in UNIV 111 and 112 in the five Focused Inquiry core skill areas: Communicative Fluency, Ethical Reasoning, Problem Solving, Information Fluency, Global and Cultural Awareness and Responsiveness. In addition, a central goal of the course is to provide you with the time and opportunity to develop the processes and strategies that characterize confident and successful researchers and writers. Course activities and assignments will allow for practice in critical reading and the research and writing process that will help you to claim your authority as a writer and thinker.

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Additional Focused Inquiry Courses

We also teach a limited number of interdisciplinary courses that fulfill core and general education requirements for VCU students:

  • UNIV 299: What’s the Big Idea?
  • UNIV 211: Food for Thought
  • UNIV 213: The Truth About Lying
  • UNIV 217: Finding Your Voice in Contemporary Society
  • UNIV 222: Pseudoscience

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