General Education

A page within Faculty Senate

General Education FAQs

As part of the ongoing implementation of UWL's Strategic Plan, the Faculty Senate charged a General Education Working group in 2017 to study our current General Education program and propose changes based on their findings. The resulting work of this group (2017-2020) produced the General Education Revision (below) proposed to the General Education Committee in Spring of 2020. Given the pressures of the pandemic, GEC deferred holding a vote on the revision, and continued to collect input on the revision during the school years 2020-2022. GEC is currently in its final review of the proposal, and offers the following answers to frequently asked questions about the revision and where they are with the process.

General Education FAQs


GEC would collaborate with GEAC to propose unique SLOs for each category. Departments would propose the categories in which courses would best fit, and instructors within those categories would have the opportunity to provide feedback on the SLOs and collaborate to define/revise SLOs during a transition period to the new Gen Ed program.

A general education curriculum is not designed to guarantee that any one program or department is represented in a student's experience. Rather, the purpose of a general education curriculum is to guarantee that a student has met the expectations of student learning outcomes across the required categories.

The purpose of General Education courses is to introduce students to a variety of disciplines that will enhance critical thinking, problem solving, and increase understanding of the world and themselves as they grow and mature as learners. A more integrated and clearly defined General Education program should offer students both breadth and depth in an introductory exposure to a wide variety of approaches to knowledge. It will allow students to comprehend how each course they take accomplishes specific types of learning. These learning outcomes can be presented and explained in terms of their value by instructors, advisors, and others, all of which will be aligned with broader learning goals.

It is imperative that equity and inclusion be infused in curriculum. With that in mind, GEC is committed to approving courses that prioritize equity and inclusion in the larger curriculum. Additionally, there are two categories that focus specifically on issues of equity and diversity ("Ethnic Diversity" and "The Cultures of Our World") so that students experience both breadth and depth in issues of equity and diversity in the larger general education program. GEC is committed to working with the experts on our campus to ensure that the Gen Ed revision and its learning outcomes place a high priority on this work.


The new category structure is intended to make the objectives of general education more clear to students. More coherent and well-defined categories will also make General Education assessable at the program level. Program level assessment will allow us to make changes to improve general education going forward, keeping the program dynamic and flexible as priorities change. All of this will improve student learning experiences in the long term.   

A possible projected timeline for implementation of the Gen Ed revision would be:

Stage 1 (2023)- GEC votes on new General Education program

Stage 2 - if approved ('23-'24) - During a feasibility year, courses would be submitted to new structure, and instructors within each category collaborate to refine the category objectives.

Stage 3 - ('24-'25) The Records and Registration office would integrate new Gen Ed curriculum requirements into WINGS and catalog.

Stage 4 - ('25-'26) New Gen Ed would be required of all new students beginning this year. Students currently enrolled would continue in Gen Ed program contained in their catalog year.

The proposed revision is a blueprint of a dynamic Gen Ed program rather than a dictation of required courses. SLOs specific to each category would be worded in a way that any department can offer a course to any category provided that the SLOs are met; this means that no department can claim "ownership" to any category. Once the SLOs are codified, departments may consider adding their classes to categories where learning outcomes match course outcomes. Other than First Year Seminar, no course needs to remain in a specific category indefinitely (though courses may only count in one category). Each category will be reviewed each year, with the centerpiece of review being assessment data (as it is collected), and annual voluntary meetings of instructors who teach in each category. GEC will use information collected from these activities to evaluate categories and learning outcomes.

Student government will participate in a review of the Gen Ed revision before implementation, and throughout the process of review through membership on GEC and annual meetings between Gen Ed Coordinator and student government.

A new Gen Ed program would request that departments submit any current or proposed course for consideration in any one relevant category, given the SLOs of the categories. CIM form information for current GenEd courses would be updated to reflect the new categories, and GEC would develop a plan to expedite approval of most current GenEd courses without the need for a department representative to attend a GEC meeting.

Departments would propose the categories in which courses would best fit, and instructors within those categories would have the opportunity to provide feedback on the SLOs and collaborate to define/revise SLOs during a transition period to the new Gen Ed program.

GEC expects that focusing on learning outcomes rather than departmental possession will provide students with an educationally diverse and valuable experience. The ongoing process of continuous improvement will aim toward collaboration among departments rather than competition between them. In a world of limited financial and tangible resources there will continue to be concerns about competition within categories/departments, or students taking too many courses from a single department that will be considered as the curriculum is reviewed each year.

During the feasibility year GEC would determine whether there are going to be enough seats offered within categories in order to maintain the requirement. If a category does not have enough seats offered, GEC would consider how to build capacity for this requirement, or amend program requirements.

Several advisor training sessions would be held to prepare campus for a Gen Ed revision. GEC believes that a more coherent and defined set of categories with attached learning outcomes would allow advisors to better explain the purpose and value of the categories and Gen Ed as a whole.

Courses and programs would be coded as Global Emphasis (GE) much like we code Writing Emphasis (WE) courses currently. Students would complete at least two courses with this code OR a major/minor/certificate/experience that has been designated as Global Emphasis. Double counting would be allowed. Courses would be designated Global Emphasis if the course fits the criteria established for a Global Emphasis course (regardless of General Education status).

There are many ways in which the revision has attempted to be enrollment neutral (categories can be filled with classes as they are currently assigned). Full understanding of enrollment pressures will be studied during feasibility year.

Some programs may have more overlap with Gen Ed requirements than others, but the proposed credits in the program should not on the whole create more barriers than our current program. The size of the proposed program is typical of Gen Ed programs in the UW System, and in our peer and aspirant institutions.

No, the revisions are intended to properly categorize courses within their respective programs, and increasing options for students is one of the goals.

GEC will collaborate with GEAC to propose learning outcomes to represent each category. Courses that desire to be placed into a specific category will need to demonstrate alignment with defined learning outcome(s). It is possible that computer science courses and mathematics courses could both satisfy a category (Quantitative Reasoning) if they assess the learning outcomes for that category.

GEC will collaborate with GEAC to propose learning outcomes to represent each category. Courses that desire to be placed into a specific category will need to demonstrate alignment with defined learning outcome(s).

General Education Working Group (GEWG) (Work Concluded and Group Dissolved - April 2020)

  • Colin Belby** (Geography & Earth Science; recent GEC chair)
  • Sam Cocks** (Philosophy; recent GEC member)
  • Natalie Eschenbaum (English; SEC, Senate Chair)
  • Anne Galbraith (Biology; recent Senate Chair, current GEC member)
  • Tav Hawkins** (Physics; SEC)
  • Shelley Hay** (Global Cultures & Languages)
  • Adam Hoffer (Economics)***
  • Heather Hulett (Mathematics & Statistics)
  • Kenneth Shonk (History; SoE affiliation)  

Previous members: Lauren Mason-student, Fa17; Aaron Bhatoya-student, Sp17; John Nunley- Economics, Fa17; Laurie Miller- Economics, Sp18; Nadia Carmosini-Chemistry and Biochemistry, Sp18

*Current membership as of June 2018

**Members who attended the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Institute on General Education and Assessment in Chicago (Sp17).

***Joined January 2019

The development of three Advisory Groups to the GE Working Group was approved by Faculty Senate in '18-'19: an Assessment Advisory Board, a Logistics Advisory Group, and a Student Advisory Group. (Student Association also approved the development of the Student Advisory Group). 

The Assessment Advisory Board convened to begin discussion of assessment strategies and development of SLOs for the draft proposed model, with the knowledge that the proposed model is a draft, and therefore still quite fluid. Work continued over Summer 2019 by a sub-group of the full committee. The full membership of the AAB includes:

  • Patrick Barlow (IRAP)
  • Natalie Solverson (IRAP)
  • Megan Morey (GEAC)
  • Cordial Gillette (GEAC)
  • Chad Vidden (GEC)
  • Anup Menon Nandialath (GEC)
  • Bryan Kopp (FYS)
  • Darci Thoune (FYE)
  • Alternate: Karen Hart (GEAC)

The Logistical Advisory Group convened in Fall 2019 to provide feedback to the GEWG proposal that was developed over Summer 2019. The membership of the LAG includes:

  • Robert Allen (Mathematics & Statistics)
  • Jo Arney (Director of Student Success)
  • TJ Brooks (Economics)
  • Linda Dickmeyer (Communication Studies and SoE)
  • Scott Johns (Admissions)
  • Robin Tuxen (Textbook Rental)
  • Bart VanVoorhis (Psychology)
  • Jan Von Ruden (Registrar)

The Internationalization of UWL Curriculum Group convened in late Fall 2019 to provide a proposal for a non-credit bearing Global Emphasis requirement in March 2020. The membership of the IUCG includes:

  • Gerardo Aponte-Safe (Educational Studies)
  • Rose Brougham (Global Cultures & Languages)
  • Natalie Eschenbaum (English)
  • Nicole Gullekson (Management)
  • Megan Litster (Biology & School of Education)
  • Kristin Koepke (Sociology)
  • Heather Linville (Educational Studies & TESOL)
  • Diane Sasaki (International Education & Engagement)
  • Tim McAndrews (Archaeology & Anthropology, Chair)

The membership of the Student Advisory Group had not been determined as of September 2019. 

The General Education Working Group used the feedback they received in the fall from campus, the various advisory groups, and the General Education Committee (GEC) to put final touches on the proposed GE revision. Because of the new emphasis (in the Mission and Goals) on global experiences for our students, the Internationalization of UWL Curriculum Group was asked to propose a rich global experience for our students that would be accessible to all students. Their ideas (and original proposals) were incorporated into the draft proposal dated 04-14-2020 (below) which will be sent to GEC and campus for review. 

Dear Colleagues,

After nearly three years, the General Education Working Group (GEWG) has drafted what we believe is the best version of a General Education (GE) program possible for this campus based on listening, responding, discussing, editing, consulting, and listening some more. The Senate Executive Committee (SEC) unanimously approved our submission to GEC on April 20 and if approved by GEC, to Faculty Senate for the requisite two readings this spring. 

If approved, implementation will occur over the next two years (minimum), and the General Education Committee (GEC) will be responsible for leading that implementation, which will result in a final roll out to students in Fall 2022 (at the earliest). 

We want to continue to emphasize that one of the goals for GE is that the program remain dynamic. We do NOT want a program that becomes inflexibly set in stone for another 25 years. (Our current model was developed in 1995). This makes change unnecessarily difficult. Therefore, this is not a "final" version because there is no "final" version, but rather, a program that will continue to be modified as needs arise via GEC, the General Education Assessment Committee (GEAC), and Faculty Senate. 

Below is a link to the draft proposal. You will see that the largest change since the October draft is the addition of a non-credit bearing Global Emphasis requirement that helps solidify our commitment (based on our mission and goals) to prepare students to become responsible global citizens and thrive in an increasingly interconnected world. We thank the Internationalization of UWL Curriculum Group for that work. We would also like to thank the Assessment Advisory Board, the Logistical Advisory Group, former members of the GEWG, and so many of our passionate faculty and staff and students for their valuable input over the years. 

We will be having an open forum via Webex on Tuesday, April 21, from 10am to noon using this link Please stop by and ask any questions that you have about the proposal. You can also email me ( and get your questions answered that way. And of course you are welcome to attend the open meetings of the GEC on Monday, April 20 (3:30pm) or the Faculty Senate meetings if/when this proposal is discussed. 

Take care of yourselves!

Anne Galbraith (Biology; GEWG Chair) on behalf of the industrious GEWG:
Colin Belby (Geography & Earth Science)
Sam Cocks (Philosophy)
Natalie Eschenbaum (English)
Tav Hawkins (Physics)
Shelley Hay (Global Cultures & Languages)
Adam Hoffer (Economics)
Heather Hulett (Mathematics & Statistics)
Kenneth Shonk (History; SoE)  

The link to the proposal can be found here. Thanks for your continued interest as we try to remodel the program to make it better for our students!

  1. Gaston, P. L., & Gaff, J. G. (2009). Revising General Education - and Avoiding the Potholes. Association of American Colleges and Universities.
  2. Hanstedt, P. (2012). General Education Essentials: A Guide for College Faculty. John Wiley & Sons. In particular the first two chapters: Structuring General Education and Some Examples of Integrative Curricular Models.
  3. Rising to the LEAP Challenge 
  4. PowerPoint AAC&U High-Impact Practices that focuses on general education.
  5. Resources made available from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).
  6. General Education AAC&U Action Team Overview, Summary and Notes.
  7. GEC Report on Size and Purpose of UWL General Education Program, Spring 2017