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Liberal Arts

Reimagining AU’s Gen Ed Experience

American University is undertaking an ambitious plan to modernize the general education experience.
American University is undertaking an ambitious plan to modernize the general education experience. iStock/Hilch.

Many undergraduate students view general education requirements as "the spinach" of academia. These are the courses they are required to complete before they can get to "the good stuff": their chosen fields of study.

Of course, in the process of fulfilling their general education requirements, many students discover that the general education courses are also "the good stuff." These are the courses through which students can explore disciplines other than their majors.

American University wants to change the paradigm into one in which undergraduates see the benefit of general education courses from the start.

In conjunction with its Reinventing the Student Experience project (RiSE), AU is undertaking an ambitious plan to modernize the general education experience. The goal: to transform the core general education offerings into courses that students will find to be intellectually stimulating, socially engaging, and relevant to their academic and professional lives.

On November 30, 2015, the task force charged with coming up with the blueprints for the reimagined general education program released its draft proposal. 

The proposal outlines a dramatically different approach to liberal arts education. Three of the main takeaways are:

  • An emphasis on learning outcomes (rather than, or in conjunction with, content areas)
  • A developmental arc that starts with a first-year experience and culminates in a capstone
  • Sustained attention to issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion

See the full draft proposal here. See more information about the General Education Task Force here.

Wanted: Your Feedback

The task force is holding numerous town hall meetings for faculty, staff, and students to share their feedback on the draft plan. The first town hall meeting—for faculty and staff—was December 2, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the Battelle-Thompkins Atrium.  

Subsequent town hall meetings are as follows:

Tuesday, December 8 (for faculty and staff—RSVP here)

10 to 11:30 a.m. SIS Founders Room

Monday, January 11, 2016 (for faculty and staff—RSVP here)

10 to 11:30 a.m. Butler Board Room

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 (for students)

10 to 11:30 a.m. Mary Graydon Center, University Club Room 4

Friday, January 22, 2016 (for students)

4 to 5:30 p.m. Battelle-Tompkins Atrium