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General Education

Promising Models

Fairleigh Dickinson University
The University Core at Fairleigh Dickinson University has received national recognition for its innovative approach to general education. Fairleigh Dickinson has addressed American pluralism and comparative world cultures in a four-semester required core curriculum taken by all students. The four courses include Perspectives on the Individual, The American Experience: Quest for Freedom, Cross-Cultural Perspectives, and Global Issues.

Grand Valley State University
Characterized by its subject matter method of instruction, the Grand Valley General Education program facilitates a generalized knowledge and familiarity with all of the basic areas of human thought and endeavor and develops the skills of thinking and relating that are associated with the liberally educated person. The program includes courses in "all-college" categories with cross-disciplinary, integrative content-Formal Reasoning; Foreign Cultural and Multi-Cultural Approaches; History of Western Civilization; and Critical Examinations of Values and Ideas; and divisional categories courses based in the traditional liberal arts disciplines.

Indiana State University
The goal of Indiana State University's General Education Program is to provide an essential foundation and broad academic base for students in all curricula, both liberal arts and professional. The program is designed to encourage each student's development as a rounded human being, an informed citizen, and an individual capable of functioning effectively in an evolving society. All students working toward a bachelor's degree at Indiana State University are required to complete at least 47 hours of General Education course work, including at least 11 hours in Basic Studies and 36 hours in Liberal Studies. At Indiana State University, the major and General Education are parallel and interdependent programs.

Olivet College
Olivet has instituted The Olivet Plan to provide students with an educational experience for acquiring the skills needed to succeed in a changing world, both in a career and in life. At the heart of The Olivet Plan are five key groups of educational outcomes that define skills that all students must acquire prior to graduation, whatever their academic major or career aspirations. The Olivet Plan gives students the skills essential for success in a highly competitive marketplace and teaches lessons in character and responsibility.

Saint Joseph's College (Indiana)
In 1969, the faculty of Saint Joseph's College redesigned the general education curriculum so that all students would take part in an integrated, transdisciplinary program of studies, taught by members of various departments, called the Core Curriculum. Structured around the over-arching theme of Christian Humanism, the Core Curriculum challenges students to find relationships among the various disciplines, and to examine their own values and beliefs in relation to the Christian Tradition. Throughout all four years, students work to develop verbal and written communication skills, learn to share ideas with classmates in discussion, and are exposed to different ideas, values and cultures. Since its inception, the structure of the Core Curriculum has remained basically the same. However, the content of each segment of Core has changed and developed to keep pace with current scholarship in these areas. The Curriculum is guided by six goals.

Portland State University
In 1994, Portland State University adopted a new general education program, University Studies, which provides students with a coherent and cohesive program of integrated learning experiences. The ultimate goal of University Studies is to enable graduates to develop the attitudes and skills needed to pursue lifelong learning. The University Studies Program includes a year-long interdisciplinary Freshman Inquiry course team-taught by faculty members from diverse disciplines; a one-term Transfer Transition course that provides a gateway into University Studies for the transferring student; three Sophomore Inquiry courses selected from a possible 25 topics; an Upper Division Cluster that links to one of the Sophomore Inquiry courses, and a community-based Senior Capstone course.

University of California, Los Angeles
UCLA's restructing of its general education curriculum includes 10 courses (a minimum of 48 units) in the following three foundation areas: Arts and Humanities, Society and Culture, and Scientific Inquiry. The College of Letters and Science requires its students to participate in a number of general education courses at UCLA. The aim of these courses is to provide students with an intellectual foundation that will help them to understand the purpose of a research university, achieve professional success, and play an active role as a citizen in our multicultural democratic society.

University of Charleston
The University of Charleston has explicitly designed a set of institutional structures and rewards that foster the integration of liberal learning outcomes throughout the curriculum in an effort to become intentional about teaching and learning and about the demonstration of exit level liberal learning outcomes. The impact of merit-based performance appraisals, program reviews, and the creation of a public culture of assessment upon student learning are examined in this PowerPoint presentation (366KB), Aligning Goals and Practices: What Gives? What Counts? What Goes? from AAC&U's 2004 General Education and Assessment meeting.

University of Southern California
George Sanchez, Director, Program in American Studies and Ethnicity and Associate Professor of History, gave this presentation at AAC&U's 2004 General Education and Assessment meeting. In this complete text of Dr. Sanchez's speech, Challenging Student Identities: Confronting Race and Class, he admits he has not always been a fan of general education but concludes with the story of a recent interaction with a student, about which he states: "This exchange reminded me of the joy I get from teaching, opening up worlds of inquiry to students that are not separated from their own worlds, but can connect them with the worlds of scholarship and theory that I know. It reminds me of the very best that general education in 'liberal education' can provide, creating informed citizens from the multitude of experiences and backgrounds we see in the classroom." The PowerPoint presentation (1,183 KB) is also available.

AAC&U offers these resources only as possible models of interest and has not submitted each of them to any substantial peer or quality review. If you have questions about any particular resource, please contact the institution sponsoring it directly.