General Education Committee Meeting: Small group discussion summary—attachment to minutes
October 1, 2001

Question 1 summary: What does it mean to be an educated person?

Individuals who:

·        have the tools (e.g., communication skills, knowledge base (multi-disciplined), critical thinking skills, etc.) to critically analyze issues and make intelligent decisions,

·        have an understanding of and appreciation for a dynamic, diverse and global world,

·        can make their own (wise) choices 

·        can appreciate the wonder and beauty of the world, and the inner strength of humans

·        understand artistic expression as a form of communication

·        can evaluate the positive and negative aspects of technologies and how these have/are changing our world


Question 2 summary: What qualities should we nurture in our students?

·         Curiosity and inquiring minds

·         A willingness to learn (not just receive grades), the desire and “know-how” for life-long learning

·         A willingness to appreciate diversity, creativity, imagination

·         Good citizens who see themselves as responsible members of communities with personal discipline, integrity, values and ability to make ethical decisions

·         Open-mindedness


Question 3 summary: What is the nature of the world in which our students will work, play, create families or nurture younger generations, teach, lead?

·        Competitive

·        Technological

·        Global and interdependent/interconnected

·        Individual-focused and materialistic

·        Uncertain, if not terrifying

·        Dynamic, ever changing  

·        A world with limited resources (human, financial, natural, etc.)


Individual group questions:

Group A:  Some have suggested that we maintain our current cafeteria style program, but work to bring coherence into it.  How can we do this?

·        Develop more linked courses (although this is not feasible for all disciplines/courses)

·        Define the Gen Ed program for our students (and faculty), discuss it with them, discuss goals of the program

·        Conduct a study of courses within a category; Identify the commonalities within each category

·        Provide obligatory and ongoing faculty seminars and discussion groups to help all see how the “pieces fit together.”


Group B:  Some have suggested that all students have a common body of knowledge, skills and values.  If so, what should these be?

  • skill set for acquiring knowledge
  • knowledge base for employing skills
  • tolerance
  • ability to view differences as good/healthy
  • appreciation of beauty
  • integrity; honesty; ethics

  • ability to write well, speak clearly, listen effectively, read with understanding,
  • ability to use basic math and technology
  • student learning outcomes should drive the structure, organization and courses for Gen Ed.


Group C: Some have suggested that we need new goals, that our current goals are out-of-date.  What should these new goals be? What kind of general education program is necessary to promote these new goals?

  • Universities are the only discipline-based organizations.  The world is multidisciplinary: Therefore Gen Ed should help students see:
    • Inter-relatedness of “everything”—of all disciplines
  • Gen Ed should be a Problem-based discovery curriculum
  • “new” or “different” or “consistent”? grading system (Investigate how students in Gen Ed are evaluated?)
  • Assessment of Gen Ed?