Culture, Art, and Technology

CAT Staff Picture 2015

Sixth College Academic Programs encompasses the lower-division core sequence of freshman writing classes, an upper-division writing course, and the college's experiential learning requirement. These five essentials are all required for graduation from Sixth College.

The Culture, Art, and Technology program is part of Academic Programs. CAT is a three-quarter, three-course sequence required for all first-year students. CAT is both a freshman writing program and an interdisciplinary core sequence which explores how aspects of human culture shape and mediate our interactions with our environment and with each other. Entering students will enroll in CAT 1, CAT 2, and CAT 3 in the fall, winter, and spring quarters (respectively) of their first year.

Students must satisfy the upper-division writing requirement by completing CAT 125, or its online equivalent, CAT 125R. This class in public rhetoric and practical communication prepares students for success beyond UCSD by developing their proficiency in public presentation. They will create their own expertise-related materials, and explore how individuals have created media-specific identities. Students will direct written, spoken, or digital compositions to multiple audiences in various genres, as they learn how to effectively and efficiently demonstrate their authority through digital media.

The Practicum is unique to Sixth College. The Practicum program, another part of Academic Programs, assists students in identifying, selecting, or developing their individually chosen project. While projects themselves vary, each presents students an opportunity for "hands-on" experience, applying their knowledge to real-world problems and connecting with communities outside the classroom.

Throughout the entire curriculum, CAT students examine their own authority as writers and understand how different genres and citation conventions are appropriate for establishing credibility in different contexts.

CAT 1, CAT 2, and CAT 3

The Sixth College Core Sequence in Culture, Art, and Technology provides students opportunities to learn about a wide range of topics while gaining knowledge and a solid understanding of the conventions of academic writing. While developing their skills writing in an academic setting, students will consider the implications of questions that are important beyond the university community. Students select their CAT class from a variety offered each quarter, according to their interests and availability. In each interdisciplinary CAT class, students are encouraged to explore the intersections of culture, art, and technology as they relate to their coursework.

Some questions that have been addressed in first-year CAT classes include: 

  • In the twenty-first century, how do we shape the world, and how does the world shape us?
  • What ethical questions are raised by designed objects? By environments? And interactions?
  • How do cultures manage change? What does that mean?
  • Why does the historical context of a given technology or commodity matter?
  • How far back in time should we look? Which factors should we weigh most heavily?
  • How do we understand media on a global scale?
  • How is sensory experience mediated? Does this change over time?
  • What forms of production and consumption do we take for granted in contemporary life?
  • How do new solutions sometimes create new problems?
  • Does technology drive culture, or does culture determine technology?
  • I'm not an artist—so why does art matter?

CAT 125 and CAT 125R

After taking CAT 1, CAT 2, and CAT 3 to complete the lower-division core writing sequence, every student is required to complete Sixth College’s upper-division writing requirement by taking CAT 125, or the online version, CAT 125R.  Students focus on writing for public audiences and get feedback on improving oral presentation, writing in print formats, and creating digital content.

The Practicum

The Sixth College Practicum is an upper-division, general education requirement that embodies the college’s commitment to active, hands-on learning. Students enroll in courses that have an experiential, service-learning, or community-based component to the curriculum.

CAT Partners


As the university's performing arts presenter, ArtPower! presents an eclectic mix of sounds and sight to thousands of audience members each year. From international dance to interactive film events to global pop, you can expect to see some of the most exciting local, national, and international artists, right here at UCSD.


Check out Calit2's art gallery!

The Loft

The Loft at UC San Diego is our new performance lounge and social crossroads where emerging art and pop culture collide. Our performance venue is for anyone hungry for artistic connections. A place where modern design, appetizing bites, and intriguing performance commingle, The Loft will revolutionize how you experience the arts.

Science Studies

Many of our faculty and teaching assistants are part of UCSD's Science Studies program. This program offers students an opportunity to integrate the perspectives developed within the communication of science, history of science, sociology of science, and philosophy of science, while receiving a thorough training at the professional level in one of those disciplines.

Academic Programs

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Learning Outcomes (Writing & Practicum) 

Inventory of High Impact Practices