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The DeSales University Connections Curriculum

Identity. Purpose. Virtue. Integrity.

These four words summarize the pillars at the center of DeSales University's Connections Curriculum, the general education program completed by all students alongside the courses in their major. These pillars reflect key questions that define our human experience.

Who am I? Why am I here? How should I live?

We will not find easy answers to these questions. These pillars are constructed over a lifetime. Luckily, your time at DeSales, inside and outside the classroom, alongside your peers and faculty,  will help you to pursue them effectively so that you can live the kind of life you want to live.

The Four Pillars


Who am I?

What do I have in common with others? How am I distinct from others? What makes me a unique individual even among those with whom I share some common traits or experiences?

Our identity, or sense of self is characterized by many factors, including sociocultural, psychological, and contextual factors


Why am I here?

What are my strengths? What motivates me or captures my attention? Where do I feel called? How and when do I experience truth, beauty, or goodness?

Purpose is associated with a sense of meaning or vocation. A sense of purpose can motivate your participation in your profession, personal relationships, and the world. Your purpose can reinforce how you understand your self, and vice versa.


How should I live?

What kind of person should I be? What habits will define my character? When might I feel balanced or whole? How can I contribute to the common good?

Virtue is characterized by a set of guiding moral principles and intellectual habits, which are put into action. These principles and habits guide how we live in relationship with and for others.


Bringing it all together

Are my actions aligned authentically and consistently with my evolving senses of identity, purpose, and virtue?

Integrity is characterized by consistency and authenticity of actions, and accountability for actions to oneself, others—individually and in community, and God.

Student Learning Outcomes

The Connections Curriculum is designed to help you think deeply about who you are and what’s important to you. The things that make you unique, the things that drive you, and the things that matter to you are also the very ways that you can make the biggest difference in this world. The following student learning outcomes equip you with the knowledge, skills, and habits you’ll need to live your best life.

  • Foundational Skills

    Foundational Skills: Demonstrate essential academic skills and intellectual habits.

    • Critical Thinking
    • Written & Oral Communication
    • Research & Information Literacy
  • Fundamental Questions

    Fundamental Questions: Articulate a reasoned perspective on the nature of reality, what it means to be human, and what constitutes a good life, informed by Christian humanism in the Salesian tradition.

    • Theological Literacy
    • Catholicism in Dialogue
    • Philosophical Thinking
  • Expanded Literacies

    Expanded Literacies: Demonstrate literacy in core disciplines of the liberal arts and sciences.

    • Literary Analysis
    • Mathematical Reasoning
    • Scientific Inquiry
    • Social Analysis
    • Historical Analysis
  • Social Responsibility

    Social Responsibility: Demonstrate the ability to participate in local, national, and global communities, while seeking to respect human dignity and the common good.

    • Cultural Awareness
    • Civic Literacy & Social Justice
  • Living Well

    Living WellDemonstrate an understanding of the components of personal well-being, and the ability to set and achieve goals that facilitate a successful and fulfilling life.

    • Personal & Professional Development

The Connections Curriculum includes the following requirements:

Foundation – Common Intellectual Experience

The Common Intellectual Experience seeks to provide each DeSales student with shared learning around knowledge, skills, and habits of mind. Each requirement is satisfied by a single course.

  • First-Year Experience
  • Composition & Rhetoric I
  • Composition & Rhetoric II
  • Philosophical Thinking
  • Introduction to Theology
  • Lifelong Health & Wellness (1 cr.)
  • Financial Literacy (1 cr.)

Foundation – Expanded Literacies

The Expanded Literacies introduce students to various disciplines and how each asks questions and discovers knowledge. Each requirement can be satisfied through multiple course options.

  • Literary Analysis
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Scientific Inquiry
  • Social Analysis
  • Historical Analysis
  • Cultural Awareness


The Integration requirements allow students to further explore fundamental questions and work towards identifying, analyzing, and solving problems. Each requirement can be satisfied through multiple course options.

  • Lens 1: Stories & Symbols
  • Lens 2: Ethics & The Common Good
  • Lens 3: Policies & Systems
  • Catholicism in Dialogue

Contact Us

Connections Curriculum Coordinators