The College has established these skill areas as the foundation of the educational experience at Champlain College, regardless of the student’s major. The goal is to help the Champlain College graduate develop into an ethical, self-guided learner.

We believe that each of these skills is best developed through consistent practice, application, and instruction. As a result, each faculty member is expected to design courses with these competencies in mind, that  incorporate instructional and developmental activities in these areas wherever possible and that are consistent with the goals of the course and program.

College Competencies

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Global/Cultural Awareness
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

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Scientific Literacy
Information Literacy
Technology Literacy
Quantitative Literacy

The Ethical Self Guided Learner

decorative icon Interacting

  • The ability to use reading, thinking, writing, and speaking to convey ideas, information, and intentions effectively and in a manner that is appropriate to the topic, situation, and audience; the ability to interpret accurately and critically the messages produced by others, and to respond appropriately.

    Effective communication requires intentional decisions based on audience, context, purpose, knowledge, and ethical perspectives. These decisions affect the delivery, the type and amount of content, and the communication channels selected. Effective and ethical communication also includes examining the impact, whether the communication achieved its intended purpose, and the ability to interpret the messages of others. These criteria encompass the variety of ways people communicate across disciplines, professions, and modalities in order to construct, maintain, and transform their personal and professional worlds.

    Guiding Questions

    • What is the purpose of this message?
    • Who are my audiences?
    • In what contexts will the message be received?
    • Am I using valid information that is relevant to the message and appropriate for the audience?
    • What are the most appropriate communication channels for the message?
    • How do the norms and rules of a communication channel shape the message?
    • What ethical considerations need to inform my communication choices?
    • Did the communication reach and impact the intended audiences?
    • What did I learn that will inform future communications?
    • Do I consistently and accurately understand the messages produced by others?


  • The ability to work inclusively and productively with a group toward a collective outcome; the ability to create an environment where each perspective is considered for the cooperative purpose of making progress toward common goals.

    Collaboration involves coordinated interaction between the individual members of a group or team. To successfully collaborate, groups should be able to articulate a shared vision for the group and clearly identify roles for each member. Integration of diverse perspectives creates new insights and should not just be respected but also sought out. Successful collaboration requires the group to define and continually examine processes for iteration, communication, and accountability.

    Guiding questions

    • What is the shared vision (common goal) of the group?
    • What are my roles and responsibilities, and the roles and responsibilities of others in the group?
    • How am I encouraging and integrating a diversity of viewpoints into the group’s process? Are there any missing viewpoints?
    • Is the group revisiting, reflecting, and improving upon its ideas and process for continual improvement?
    • How am I communicating with members of the group to track work progress and task status updates? What is working and what do we need to change?
    • How am I helping each member of the group (including myself) be accountable in completing agreed upon tasks and responsibilities?


  • The ability to critically analyze and engage with complex, interdependent global systems, and legacies—natural, physical, social, cultural, economic, and political—and their implications for our lives and the Earth.

    Global and Cultural Understanding asks one to focus on diversity amongst the perspectives, practices, and beliefs found within a given culture and across cultures, with particular attention to global perspectives, practices, and beliefs. Interactions with different people lead to functional knowledge of the relationship between individuals, groups, and historical, cultural, and social forces. In practicing Global and Cultural Understanding, one actively engages topics of environment, economic status, age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion, among others, enabling collaboration across the different scales of human organization.

    Guiding questions

    • Can I clearly describe my own, and others’, positionality in the world?
    • In what ways has history contributed to cultural manifestations seen today?
    • What other cultures have intersected with a given culture over time?
    • How can I access and interact with a given culture without becoming obtrusive, onerous or harmful to members of this culture?
    • Where does a given culture exist in a geographic, historic, and global context, and in what ways does this locality affect its structure?
    • How deeply do my actions or inactions impact systems or contexts at local and global scales?


  • The ability to evaluate intersections, influences, and social contexts from a position of shared humanity and openness toward difference, in order to integrate one’s values and belief systems into action.

    Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion examine how our various identities and concepts of self are shaped by social constructs and social inequalities. Attending to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion requires understanding of where social constructs come from, how they shape us, and how we shape them. It also means analyzing how systems and institutions exercise power in ways that often lead to inequities. Interacting with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion involves a process of moving from distrust and distance, through curiosity and wanting to learn, to synthesizing views and other ways of knowing and being without judgment. Acting on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion requires examining our values and beliefs and engaging with the world in ways that are consistent with those values and beliefs.

    Guiding Questions

    • What are my identities? What values and beliefs come from my identities?
    • What social constructs influence my identities and my concept of self? How do these social constructs come about?
    • How do I navigate and/or resist the social constructs that have been assigned to me by others?
    • Where can I find new opportunities to learn from others without judging them?
    • How do institutions and systems exert power to create or perpetuate inequities?
    • How do my actions embody my values and beliefs?


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  • The ability to separate and organize complex topics or issues into their component parts, and through a systematic process, to identify and differentiate those components to gain an understanding of the topic or issue.

    Analysis is used to break a complex problem, issue, or question into smaller parts to gain a better fundamental understanding of the whole. Analytical thinking begins with identifying the purpose and context of analysis. Analytic approaches have different strengths and limitations, and inherent values and biases that must be taken into account when selecting and applying the right one for a particular problem and context. This understanding is vital when making meaning from the results of the analysis, putting them in proper context, and understanding potential impacts.

    Guiding Questions

    • Why is there a need to address this question or problem?
    • How have similar problems been analyzed before?
    • What are the strengths and limitations of potential analytical approaches?
    • What values and biases are inherent in the potential analytical approaches?
    • What impacts might the methods of analysis or the results have on people or institutions?
    • Can I explain the correct steps in the chosen analytical method? Can I execute those steps?
    • How confident can I be in my conclusions? Where might they not apply or be limited in scope?


  • The ability to move from making simple connections among ideas, disciplines, and experiences to synthesizing and transferring learning and data to new, complex situations.

    Integration brings together knowledge, methods, and perspectives from many different areas to address complex problems. Navigating such problems starts with evaluating different disciplines, fields of knowledge, or perspectives and selecting the most relevant or useful ones. Examining the problem or topic from multiple angles then leads to a synthesis that integrates insights from different fields into a more complete response than would have been possible from a single perspective alone. This process works best when it is consciously applied, when the choice of fields and perspectives, and the nature of the synthesis are clearly articulated.

    Guiding questions

    • What fields of knowledge, methods, or perspectives should I consult to create a conceptually coherent product or a more complete response or answer?
    • How does each relevant field of knowledge, method, or perspective enhance my understanding of the topic? What are the biases, or the “blind spots” of each (i.e., what do they leave out or miss)?
    • How will the relevant fields of knowledge, methods, or perspectives interconnect and blend in the product or response to the topic/question?
    • Can I explain each of the choices I made in selecting fields of knowledge, methods, or perspectives, as well as how I blended them together in the final product?


  • The ability to think, work, and respond in ways characterized by a high degree of originality, divergent thinking, and risk taking; the ability to combine or synthesize existing ideas, images, or expertise (or aspects of these) in ways that are original or that lead to unexpected results.

    Creativity is a learnable skill (not something “you’re born with or without”) that can be used in response to a project, a question, or a problem to be solved. It is not limited to the arts, but can and should be a part of every intellectual endeavor. Creative thinking should be approached with an attitude of flexibility, an openness to many different possibilities, and an acceptance of risk and failure. It begins with brainstorming to generate a wide range of potential ideas. The best ideas are then selected and improved through a repeated cyclical process of reflection and revision. Creative work draws upon personal experience, and responds to or breaks with past traditions or contemporary practices. Good creative thinking happens in a context of intentional feedback and can be a collaborative enterprise.

    Guiding Questions

    • Am I open to experimenting with ideas, methods, or materials in ways that are out of the mainstream?
    • Did I generate a wide range of possibilities?
    • Have I reflected and revised to narrow down the possibilities?
    • Have I polished my work through multiple iterations?
    • How does my work connect to my past experiences?
    • How does my work connect to, build upon, or actively revise traditions or contemporary practices, or other similar work?
    • Have I actively sought feedback and used it to further refine or improve my work?


  • The ability to identify, formulate, and communicate questions that guide investigation and reflection toward discovery; the ability to critically and thoroughly examine one’s own assumptions and the assumptions of others.

    Inquiry takes form in compelling questions that drive our creativity, test our own assumptions, and push us to engage with authentic problems and thorny issues. Successful practice of Inquiry starts with developing lines of questioning and being open to where the research leads, which could refine or redirect the questions, or lead to entirely new questions. Examining assumptions – in the questions, in the evidence found, and in oneself – can open up new pathways for exploration and ground the results in the larger context of knowledge production. Acquiring more information is its immediate result, but the capacity to inquire well is the key to a life full of discovery, meaning-making, and purpose.

    Guiding Questions

    • What ideas, issues, or contexts ignite my curiosity?
    • What is my process for developing new lines of questioning?
    • Which questions can’t be definitively answered?
    • How does the question I ask impact the information I discover?
    • What unexpected pathways or new questions have turned up in my research process?
    • How does the evidence I have gathered support my possible answers?
    • How are my questions shaped by my assumptions and different contexts?
    • What are the different biases and perspectives in the evidence I have found?


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  • The ability to apply scientific methods to understand the natural world, to identify scientific aspects of daily life, and to evaluate the quality of scientific information on the basis of its source and the methods used for its generation.

    Scientific Literacy, the ability to identify and understand scientific knowledge and thinking, is necessary for participating actively in democracy and engaging as a thoughtful global citizen. Scientific Literacy involves exploring the relevance of scientific thinking and knowledge to comprehending and addressing the complex problems facing society. To make reasonable judgements about the validity of scientific claims, one must first know how scientific claims are made and supported; have at least baseline knowledge in a scientific field; and be aware of the social and institutional bases of scientific credibility.

    Guiding Questions

    • Have I applied a valid and relevant scientific method to test a hypothesis?
    • What limits are there to scientific approaches?
    • Can I define and explain foundational concepts of a particular field of science?
    • How do I determine if scientific claims made by others are credible and reliable?
    • What rhetorical strategies do scientists use? How is scientific research influenced by technology, culture, politics or economics?
    • How do scientific claims differentially impact society, politics, culture, or people’s lives?
    • How do scientific claims inform my own actions and decisions?
  • The ability to find, store, evaluate, and synthesize information to answer questions, develop new ones, and create new content and knowledge in an ethical and socially responsible manner.

    Information Literacy requires a flexible approach that understands the processes necessary to navigate varied information landscapes, looking in multiple places and adjusting search strategies as necessary. The search context can be influenced by one’s own perspective; different types of authority or expertise; and cultural, professional, and/or disciplinary expectations. Information must be evaluated for relevancy, reliability, credibility, and currency. Different pieces of information should be related to each other, and fit into a broader intellectual framework. Information should be clearly attributed and used ethically in ways that do not misrepresent it, respect privacy where appropriate, and be in line with relevant disciplinary or professional ethical norms.

    Guiding Questions

    • What search methods, and search terms have I used? How have I refined my search strategies based on initial search results?
    • Have I evaluated and selected sources from a broad range of perspectives that are appropriately current, reliable, and credible; and relevant to my investigation?
    • How is the information I have found shaped by the cultural, professional, or disciplinary contexts from which it comes?
    • How does my own positionality and worldview affect my perception of the information I am engaging with?
    • How do my different sources of information relate to each other and fit into a broader intellectual framework?
    • Does my finished product accurately and consistently attribute or cite the sources of each piece of information used?
    • In what ways have I used information responsibly in accordance with ethical norms (for example by respecting privacy as appropriate, or by not misrepresenting information or taking it out of context)?
  • The ability to use, manage, assess, and understand technology.

    Technology Literacy focuses on understanding and using analog or digital tools designed for a purpose, consisting of physical components or operations organized into a system. Technology literacy involves analyzing the systems that are constructed from technological tools, determining which tools may be appropriate for solving a problem, and using and adapting those technological tools as necessary. It also involves analyzing the many ways in which technologies shape societies and how societies shape technologies. Technology literacy involves determining which tools may be appropriate for solving a problem, and then using and adapting those technological tools as necessary.

    Guiding questions

    • What components and relationships make up a specific technological system?
    • How effective is the technological system for the given situation? Could the technological system be improved?
    • How does a specific technology shape interpersonal interactions, organizations, society, culture, or other parts of its context? How are specific technologies shaped by the organization, society, and culture in which they operate?
    • What ethical considerations relate to the creation or use of a specific technology?
    • When we have a problem with a technology, how do we resolve the issue?
    • How might we use a specific technology in different scenarios?
    • What collection of tools are most useful in both my professional and personal life?
  • The ability to interpret quantitative information, apply appropriate mathematical methods to solve quantitative problems, and communicate solutions in the appropriate context.

    Quantitative Literacy starts with a basic ability to work correctly and meaningfully with numbers, variables, mathematical operators, and quantitative symbols. From this follows a deeper understanding of logic and reason that allows for the identification of areas in which these quantitative skills can be applied. Once a quantitative question is discovered, it is important to properly apply quantitative skills that result in a technically sound and correct conclusion. Moreover, a solution must be understood well enough so that the result can be clearly communicated to other individuals. The human context of any problem, even quantitative ones, should not be lost, as ethical implications and personal biases can hinder our efforts to bring thoughtful, critical analysis to everyday problems. In short, quantitative literacy enables us to solve problems with math.

    Guiding Questions

    • Am I comfortable working with numbers and variables as well as implementing proper mathematical operations with them?
    • What is the most appropriate mathematical procedure and logical analysis I should follow in order to arrive at a solution for a given problem?
    • Can I explain the proper steps of a particular quantitative procedure to arrive at an accurate and appropriate solution?
    • Can I read a quantitative solution to a problem and understand it well enough to explain it to someone else?
    • Can I understand and explain the broader implications of quantitative solutions within the context that they were generated?
    • What are the strengths and weaknesses of my quantitative problem solving methods?
    • What ethical concerns or implicit biases in my quantitative problem solving methods may complicate or call into question my conclusions?


Revised College Competencies established June 2014; Revised September 2018, Revised June 2022.

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