Habits of Mind

What makes a Habit of Mind course different than an elective? AU Core faculty believe inquiry goes hand-in-hand with the curiosity that characterizes life-long learners. The Habits of Mind move beyond memorizing information to help prepare you to develop questions and draw connections between your Core experience, classes in your majors/minors, and life after AU.

There are five required Habits of Mind, each one focuses on specific ways of thinking or knowing: Creative-Aesthetic Inquiry, Cultural Inquiry, Ethical Reasoning, Natural-Scientific Inquiry, and Socio-Historical Inquiry.

Below you’ll find information about how to complete the Habits of Mind requirement, a list of courses, and learning outcomes for each Habit.

Completing the Habits of Mind

Students* satisfy the Habits of Mind requirement by completing an appropriately designated, in-residence course from each of the five Habits of Mind areas with grades of “C” or better. Habits of Mind are typically taken over the course of four years.

  • Use the course list below to learn what’s been added or confirm which courses can be used to satisfy a Habit of Mind requirement. Prior iterations of approved courses will not satisfy the requirement.
  • Consult your own degree audit or your academic advisor to verify which courses have been used to satisfy requirements.
  • You may count, with permission of the relevant teaching unit, one Habit of Mind course toward each major or minor you pursue.
  • Up to two appropriately designated courses taken abroad can be used to satisfy AU Core requirements. See our Core Abroad page for additional details.
  • External courses cannot be used to satisfy a Habit of Mind.*

*Transfer Students should consult the Academic Regulations for specialized guidance.

Habit of Mind Courses

The table below includes all courses currently approved for Habits of Mind. However, all courses are not offered every semester. See the Course Catalog for current course offerings.

Want to search for a specific Habit? Click the Filter button and add a condition. 

Creative-Aesthetic Inquiry

  1. Identify and describe acts, practices, and products of artistic and other creative expressions or of aesthetic interpretations and discuss how they reflect, respond to, or shape their many contexts
  2. Describe and analyze the formal and structural components of artistic and other creative expressions in at least one discipline or domain, or across a range of disciplines or domains
  3. Engage in or with creative processes, which could include constructing meaning through the practices and products of artistic or other creative expressions, interpreting the meaning of artistic or creative expressions, practicing divergent thinking, or assessing the aesthetic value of artistic or other creative expressions

Cultural Inquiry

  1. Identify your own or other groups' norms, biases, or forms of representation, and recognize their implications
  2. Examine how culture intersects with power relationships and how this intersection shapes knowledge production, ideas, or behavior
  3. Ask significant questions about a culture or cultures, and seek answers that include multiple perspectives and take into account cultural dynamics

Ethical Reasoning

  1. Identify and differentiate ethical perspectives or questions
  2. Demonstrate ethical awareness by critically discussing and analyzing moral presuppositions
  3. Recognize the origins or structures of complex ethical issues
  4. Apply ethical concepts and frameworks

Natural-Scientific Inquiry

  1. Describe, evaluate, and communicate experimental results using appropriate technical, qualitative, and quantitative skills
  2. Analyze and interpret data or theories about natural phenomena, using pertinent scientific terminology, principles, and theories
  3. Synthesize theory, observation, and experimentation to understand the natural world through laboratory, simulation, or field experience
  4. Assess science-related content in popular discourse, daily life, or scholarly research

Socio-Historical Inquiry

  1. Examine an idea, problem, policy, or institution over a defined period of time
  2. Employ a critical or systematic method to analyze the relationship between human values, ideas, institutions, policies, or perspectives and their social and historical contexts or conditions
  3. Analyze and evaluate evidence and sources to develop an argument, or other student work product, that takes into account social and historical contexts or conditions