College of Arts & Sciences Strategic Plan

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" More than achieving the competence to solve problems and perform complex tasks, education means attaining and sustaining curiosity and humility. It means growing out of an embattled sense of self into a more generous view of life as continuous self-reflection in light of new experience, including the witnessed experience of others." – Andrew Delbanco, author of College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be, 2012

The College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga proudly celebrates and champions liberal education, an approach to teaching and learning that aims to liberate the human mind from habit and ignorance by emphasizing a broad and well-rounded course of study in the humanities, the fine arts, and the social, behavioral, and natural sciences. A liberal education prepares individuals to think critically and creatively, to communicate clearly, and to reflect on complexity, diversity, and change along our social, cultural, technological, and scientific horizons. In doing so, a liberal education cultivates a sense of personal and social responsibility, strong intellectual and practical skills ( e.g., written and verbal communication skills, analytical skills, information literacy, and problem-solving skills) that cross disciplinary boundaries and fields of study, along with the ability to apply such knowledge and skills in real-world settings. (According to a 2013 survey conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of Association of American Colleges and Universities, 74% of employers would recommend a liberal education to college-bound students. A full report on the survey and its complete findings is available at

Dedicated to essential academic pursuits—instruction, research, creative expression, and public service—the College of Arts and Sciences at the UTC pursues excellence in undergraduate and graduate education as its principal mission. The College’s top priority, therefore, is effective teaching in our major, minor, and graduate programs—programs through which students are educated for enriched lives and successful careers. Through its role in providing the majority of the University’s General Education program, along with our rigorous undergraduate and graduate programs, the College pursues a particular commitment to strengthen the intellectual skills of all students while developing their awareness and appreciation of the humanities, the fine arts, and the social, behavioral, and natural sciences.

The College of Arts and Sciences identifies in what follows its strategic plan for 2015-2020. This plan aligns with the Institutional Strategic Plan (ISP); articulates our mission, vision, values, and goals; helps us communicate and advocate for the College of Arts and Sciences on campus and in our community; and identifies priorities, strengths, and opportunities.


  • provide an environment for intellectual curiosity and a foundation for life-long learning, thinking, reflection, and growth
  • equip students with transferrable skills—critical thinking, communication, and complex problem solving skills—that are needed to adapt and succeed in a rapidly evolving world
  • advance cultural and intellectual diversity ( e.g., studying competing theories as well as intellectual advancements within and beyond Western traditions)
  • advance new knowledge through research (theoretical and applied) and creative activities
  • advance integrated service as a part of personal and social responsibility


The enduring vision of UTC's College of Arts and Sciences is to transform lives through a modern liberal arts and sciences education.*

(* The phrase "liberal arts and sciences education" comes from our national organization, the Council of Colleges of Arts & Sciences. Like the CCAS, we use the phrase to reflect our commitment to liberal education in the context of a comprehensive College of Arts and Sciences.)


Faculty, staff, and students in the College of Arts and Sciences value a positive work and learning environment as we likewise embrace cultural and intellectual diversity and practice innovative teaching and mentorship. We value a foundational education that leads to a life that is enriched by continuous learning. We value scholarly research and creative expression. We value being engaged with the Chattanooga community, as well as our regional and global partners and our ever-expanding intellectual communities. As such, our values are summed up in four words: collaboration, inclusion, creativity, and innovation.


GOAL 1: This College leads the university, community, and region in providing an essential liberal arts and sciences education that prepares students for an increasingly global context and economy. The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), through its "Liberal Education and America's Promise" or LEAP campaign, has developed essential learning outcomes for a 21 st century liberal education to which we must aspire as a College of Arts and Sciences. Those essential learning outcomes are available at Consistent with LEAP's essential learning outcomes, we aim to accomplish the following sub-goals.

" When we ask about the relationship of a liberal education to citizenship, we are asking a question with a long history in the Western philosophical tradition. We are drawing on Socrates' concept of 'the examined life,' on Aristotle's notions of reflective citizenship, and above all on Greek and Roman Stoic notions of an education that is 'liberal' in that it liberates the mind from bondage of habit and custom, producing people who can function with sensitivity and alertness as citizens of the whole world." – Martha Nussbaum, Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education, 1998

1a. Promote a liberal education and broadly communicate the value of such an educational experience. (ISP 1g)

1b. Actively recruit and retain undergraduate and graduate students; increase degree completion rates. (ISP Goal 3a)

1c. Mindfully integrate up-to-date technology and sustain best teaching practices to provide students in the College with the best possible 21 st century classroom and learning experience. This includes increasing the accessibility and modality of courses that make up the General Education curriculum. (ISP Goal 1)

1d. Expand points of contact, outreach communication, and opportunities for engagement and relationship building with UTC graduates and key constituents of the College to facilitate external support. (ISP Goal 3)

1e. Increase opportunities and preparation for students, faculty, and staff to have an international or study abroad experience to ensure first-hand exposure to global examples of cultural, architectural, intellectual and scientific achievement. (ISP 4c; see Goal 3c in this plan)

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GOAL 2: The College of Arts and Sciences values and promotes human achievement in the social sciences, behavioral sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and fine arts.In doing so, we celebrate human achievements— i.e., publications, performances, exhibitions, outstanding teaching, research, and more—both within and beyond our disciplines.

" This approach to liberal education – already visible on many campuses – erases the artificial distinctions between studies deemed liberal (interpreted to mean that they are not related to job training) and those called practical (which are assumed to be). A liberal education is a practical education because it develops just those capacities needed by every thinking adult: analytical skills, effective communication, practical intelligence, ethical judgment, and social responsibility." – Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College, AAC&U, 2002

2a. Provide undergraduate and graduate programs that offer a framework for personal and professional growth and that expose students to the scope and range of human achievement in the arts and sciences. (ISP 1c, 1g)

2b. Provide instruction and enable student learning through innovative teaching strategies, including flipped classrooms, team-based learning, problem-based learning, facilitation and presentations, online and hybrid instructional delivery. (ISP 1d, 2d)

2c. Increase student participation in research and creative activities under faculty guidance. (ISP 1b, 2a)

2d. Showcase and reward faculty/student research and creative achievement through department- and college-level awards, grant funding, reassigned time, and more. (SP 3h)

2e. Participate in and/or sponsor campus and community activities that promote cultural engagement and highlight achievements in the social sciences, behavioral sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and fine arts. (ISP 1g)

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GOAL 3: The College of Arts and Sciences embraces cultural and intellectual diversity. The College of Arts and Sciences—its leadership, faculty, and staff—is committed to a campus culture that respects the inherent worth of every person and that is enriched by our diverse backgrounds.

"Education serves democracy best when it prepares us for just the kinds of questions we face now: questions about a wider world, about our own values, and about difficult choices we must make both as human beings and citizens.... The approach to higher learning that best serves individuals, our globally engaged democracy and an innovating economy is liberal education." – Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), Board of Directors, 2002

3a. Participate in the implementation of an institutional diversity plan by creating a college-level diversity plan which defines and sets clear metrics for diversity of faculty, staff, and students. (ISP 4a, 4d)

3b. Advocate for a culture of inclusion, including physical and technological access for students, faculty and staff with disabilities. (ISP 4b)

3c. Increase opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to have an international or study abroad experience to ensure first-hand exposure to global examples of cultural, architectural, intellectual and scientific achievement. (ISP 4c)

3d. Offer educational opportunities that promote an awareness of and an appreciation of divergent world views.

3e. Showcase and promote multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research, teaching, and creative activities.

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GOAL 4: The College of Arts and Sciences cultivates new knowledge through research (theoretical and applied) and creative activities that engage students, faculty, and community partners.

" [O]ne cannot live by equations alone. The need is increasing for workers with greater foreign language skills and an expanded knowledge of economics, history and geography. And who wants a technology-driven economy when those who drive it are not grounded in such fields as ethics?" – Norman Augustine, former Chairman and CEO of the Lockheed Martin Corporation, 2013

4a. Increase student involvement in experiential learning, research, creative endeavors, internships, senior capstone projects, practice, and service. (ISP 1)

4b. Promote greater student engagement in research and creative activity, including the presentation of student/faculty work in scholarly and creative outlets. (ISP 1)

4c. Pursue faculty workload that is consistent with experiential learning objectives. (ISP Goal 4a, 4b)

4d. Recruit and retain faculty by demonstrating a commitment to and proper funding for research and creative activity, including start-up funds and sustained funding.

4e. Pursue proper infrastructure and space needs, technology/equipment availability, and connection to student research opportunities.

4f. Enrich graduate programs with competitive recruitment, including competitive scholarships, research opportunities, and teaching experiences.

4g. Identify opportunities (system, state, federal, private, etc.) to secure additional funding.

4h. Take the College's scholarly and creative activity into the community in order to promote Chattanooga as a "teaching and learning lab" or studio.

Integrate sustainability and its values—human interactions with and responsibilities to the natural environment—into both the Gen Ed and programmatic curricula.

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GOAL 5: The College of Arts and Sciences must establish its identity and value on campus, in the community, and beyond.The identity and value may be accomplished through improved communication, messaging, and marketing.

"You want the inside of your head to be an interesting place to spend the rest of your life." – Judith Shapiro, former President of Barnard College

5a. Promote locally ( i.e., on campus) and regionally achievements in teaching, learning, research, creative expression, and service of our faculty, staff, and students. (ISP 2a)

5b. Improve communication and engagement with our alumni and with partners/friends of the College as a way to expand external support. (ISP 3b, 3f)

5c. Promote the College of Arts and Sciences as UTC's locus for a rich and rigorous General Education curriculum.

Implementing and Assessing Our Plan

Download a print-friendly version of our plan (PDF), including our implementation and assessment timeline on pages 6-19.



The AAC&U's Statement on 21st Century Liberal Education

Council of Colleges of Arts & Sciences' "Statement on Liberal Education" (PDF)

Liberal Education America's Promise (LEAP) "AAC&U’s 2015 Centennial Video"

Just What Are the Liberal Arts Anyway? ( Posted: 07/20/2015 )

Cited in the above video: Hart Research Associates' "Falling Short? College Learning and Career Success Selected Findings from Online Surveys of Employers and College Students" (January 2015) (PDF)

That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket

University of Tennessee System Statement on Diversity