One of the distinguishing features of SUA is its emphasis on global and cross-cultural points of view. As part of the general education requirement, students must take a course in the American Experience and a course about the Pacific Basin. These courses draw from the social and behavioral sciences (SBS), from the humanities (HUM), international studies (IS) and from environmental studies (ES).
Collectively, the courses offered under area and comparative studies are designed to build bridges between East and West, North and South, to develop and expand perspectives concerning various regions of the world, and to enlarge the focus of the student from local to global engagement. These courses seek to introduce important dimensions of human life — social, artistic, cultural, economic, historical, literary, musical, philosophical, political, and religious — as well as to provide a variety of ways to experience, analyze, and appreciate these dimensions. To prepare students to live contributory lives for the betterment of the world, the humanities and social and behavioral science disciplines offer, in these courses, important lessons about common patterns and issues that have faced people at different times and places while also highlighting the uniqueness of each person, time, and place.