General Education

Course Requirements

The general education program consists of two parts: a course distribution requirement and requirements to be fulfilled through the student’s major program. Seven learning outcomes are to be addressed by the general education program.  They are:

  1. Breadth of knowledge
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Clear communication
  4. Diversity
  5. Ethics
  6. Self-direction and collaboration
  7. Information literacy
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The first three learning outcomes should be fulfilled through the course distribution requirement. The remaining four learning outcomes should be fulfilled through courses provided by the major department. Learning outcomes numbers 2 and 3, which are central to the course distribution requirement, are also be reinforced throughout the student’s major program. Ideally, all seven learning goals will eventually become embedded in the curriculum as a whole. Thus a student’s first exposure to a particular goal may be in general education courses, but students may find the principles behind these goals reinforced repeatedly throughout their undergraduate experience.

General Education Course Distribution Requirements

The Course Distribution Requirement consists of a total of 36-38 credits and address three of the learning outcomes:
  1. Breadth of Knowledge
    Students must demonstrate familiarity with several different areas of knowledge and several different modes of inquiry (outside of their major program).  This requirement  consists of five categories of courses.  All courses in categories c), d), and e) must be chosen from an approved list and no more than 2 may be from the same department: 
    • College Writing 42.101 / 2 College Writing I / II
    • Mathematics 1 course (provided by the Math department) 
    • Arts and Humanities 3 courses 
    • Social Sciences 3 courses
    • Science and Technology 3 courses (2 must contain an experimental learning component)
      Total: 36-38 credits

      Each General Education course in the distribution requirement provides elements of:

  2. Critical Thinking
    Students must demonstrate the ability to synthesize information, discover connections, differentiate between facts and opinions, assess evidence, draw conclusions, construct arguments on both sides of a debate using the best available evidence, solve problems, develop and test hypotheses.

  3. Clear Communication
    Students must demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively: to articulate, support, and defend a position using appropriate modes of communication.

    Major Program General Education Requirements

    Each major program  provides appropriate ways for its students to address the learning outcomes, numbers 4-7. The major programs have developed plans for complying with their part of the general education in consultation with the General Education Coordinating Committee (see governance).

  4. Diversity
    Students must demonstrate the ability to understand diverse groups of peoples, cultures, and views. Diversity is defined broadly to include culture (i.e., national origin, language, ethnicity, and religion), race, gender, social class, age, sexual orientation, and disability.  
    This learning outcome should be met by each student’s selection of at least one general education course, major course (or sections of courses) or elective that meets the criteria for significant diversity content. Courses that fulfill the diversity requirement may also count toward other requirements of General Education and the major.

  5. Ethics
    Students must demonstrate an awareness of the implications of choosing various principles of action. This learning outcome should be met by each student’s selection of a general education course, major course, or elective with significant ethics content. Courses that fulfill the ethics requirement may also count toward other requirements of General Education and the major.

  6. Self-Direction and Collaboration
    Students must demonstrate the ability to complete an intellectual project, both independently and in collaboration with others. Major programs may choose to meet this learning outcome by requiring a capstone project, a directed study, or a portfolio of learning experience.

  7. Information Literacy
    Students must demonstrate the ability both to use appropriate media to gather information relative to their major field and to access reliable general information.