The General Education Program, or GenEd, is American University’s liberal arts requirement. (What some institutions call a core or distribution requirement.) Schools with a core liberal arts program believe that there is a certain body of knowledge that all educated adults should possess. Those with distribution requirements think students should learn about subjects outside their main course of study. We agree with both of those philosophies.
Well, sort of.
At AU we do things a bit differently. We reject the idea that there is any single body of knowledge that constitutes “what all educated people should know.” What we care about are learning outcomes—that is, how your education helps you become who you are. We believe that our graduates should be equipped with certain intellectual skills and resources if they are to understand the complex dynamics of an increasingly connected global environment.
- Take two courses in each of the five Foundational Areas
- At least one course in Area Five must include a lab science component
- No more than two courses can have the same course prefix (BIO, LIT, etc.). The only exception is GNED, the interdisciplinary prefix used for Wildcards and Sophomore Seminars.
Got more questions? Check out the FAQ.
GenEd Learning Outcomes
- Aesthetic sensibilities
Critical reflections on the nature and history of beauty and art
- Communication skills
Interchanging ideas and information through writing, speech, and visual and digital media
- Critical Inquiry
Systematic questioning and analysis of problems, issues, and claims
- Diverse perspectives and experiences
Acquiring knowledge and analytical skills to understand a variety of perspectives and experiences, including those that have emerged from the scholarship on age, disability, ethnicity, gender and gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, and social class
- Innovative thinking
Venturing beyond established patterns of thought in imaginative and creative ways
- Ethical reasoning
Assessing and weighing of moral and political beliefs and practices, and their applications to ethical dilemmas
- Information literacy
Locating, evaluating, citing, and effectively using information
- Quantitative literacy and symbolic reasoning
Applying mathematical, statistical, and symbolic reasoning to complex problems and decision making