The PEAK Curriculum

Professional, Ethical, Articulate, and Knowledgeable

With more officially designated wilderness than any state in the contiguous United States, Idaho is a land of peaks: Mt. Borah, the Seven Devils, the Selway Crags, the Big Horn Crags, Rhodes Peak. The College of Idaho proudly offers a distinctive curriculum—the PEAK curriculum—that reflects the physical geography of Idaho while preparing students for climbing higher to see farther.

PEAK is a curriculum simple in concept but profound in its reach. An acronym for "Professional, Ethical, Articulate, and Knowledgeable," PEAK challenges students to study broadly across the social sciences and history; the humanities and fine arts; the natural sciences and mathematics; and professional foundations. It recognizes that a sturdy foundation is best for withstanding unanticipated gusts from a changing world.

As a liberal arts college with professional programs, The College of Idaho prepares students to lead fulfilling and productive lives. The PEAK curriculum offers a curriculum design and college experience that distinctively educates and ensures that every graduate of The College of Idaho leaves with a set of professional skills in addition to a broad and deep liberal arts education. With the PEAK curriculum, students design their own combination of major and minor programs across four areas that will make them better prepared, more confident, and more attractive to employers, graduate schools, and professional programs than graduates of the traditional distribution systems common at many colleges. Under PEAK, students will pursue roughly one-third of the 124-credit bachelor's program in their chosen major, one-third in pursuit of three minors, and one-third in exploration of courses outside the student's four chosen programs. Students will work closely with faculty advisors to design, revise, and implement their individualized academic plans.

Whatever the future holds for graduates of the twenty-first century, accelerating change is a primary reality. The PEAK curriculum offers a living and learning experience that engages students and equips them with the skills and understanding to flourish in our rapidly changing, diverse, and technologically informed world. As employees, students must be ready to change careers several times over their working lives. As citizens, they must govern in a world that will be radically different from the world of their youth. Where change is the norm, both breadth and depth of study are requisites for success.

The Four Peaks

Humanities and Fine Arts

In the Humanities and Fine Arts PEAK, students develop their aesthetic, analytical, and imaginative capacities through courses in language, literature, creative writing, art, music, communication, theatre, philosophy, and religious studies. By inquiring into the historical and cultural contexts of human expression and values, students learn to read in the fullest sense of the word. They discern complexities and find meaning across the range of oral, written, visual, and aural expressions of human experience. At the same time, they learn to communicate logically, clearly, persuasively, and evocatively, and they encounter the pleasures and challenges of creative work.

Upon successful completion of any HFA program, students will:

  1. Demonstrate engagement with humanistic inquiry through the application of theory and methodology (appropriate to discipline) to cultures, texts, or artifacts;
  2. Provide evidence of their own artistic work and active engagement with the creative process; and
  3. Demonstrate engagement with non-dominant cultures and cultural products.

Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Living in our technologically advanced society requires that we understand the natural world upon which we depend. The pursuit of truth and the discovery of beauty in our world demand an ability to observe carefully and understand, appreciate, question, and challenge conclusions generated through the enterprise of science. This PEAK prepares students for such an endeavor by enabling them to develop fluency in quantitative reasoning and problem solving, understanding of the methods, uses, powers, and limitations of science and mathematics, and knowledge of the concepts, principles, and theories underlying these disciplines.

Upon successful completion of any NSM program, students will:

  1. Demonstrate the appropriate use of mathematical and computational problem-solving techniques;
  2. Apply scientific reasoning to develop and test scientific questions; and
  3. Explore the roles of scientific and mathematical inquiry and knowledge in society.

Professional Foundations and Enhancements

Leading a productive and fulfilling life in a competitive global context requires being able to integrate, focus, and apply knowledge in practical ways. This PEAK encourages students to embrace our liberal arts mission while enhancing their talents and abilities to thrive in competitive careers. The result will be broadly educated graduates who understand what it means to be a professional and are prepared for graduate programs and meaningful employment.

Social Sciences and History

In our increasingly complex world, it is essential that we are able to understand and analyze both group and individual human behavior, past and present. The social sciences seek to explain parts of human behavior through observation, participation, comparison, interpretation, logical reasoning, collection of documents and data, and, when amenable to scientific manipulation, experimentation. This PEAK enables students to understand the perspectives and limitations-and to use the theories and methods-of the social sciences in studying individuals or the groups, cultures, societies, polities, and economies that organize social life and define human experience.

Upon successful completion of any SSH program, students will:

  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of social scientific inquiry; and
  2. Critically assess the normative dimensions of human experiences.