You are here: American University Provost General Education General Education Program Goals


The General Education Program as a whole promotes eight Learning Outcomes:

  1. Aesthetic Sensibilities
    Critical reflections on the nature and history of beauty and art
  2. Communication Skills
    Interchanging ideas and information through writing, speech, and visual and digital media
  3. Critical Inquiry
    Systematic questioning and analysis of problems, issues, and claims
  4. 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
  5. Innovative Thinking
    Venturing beyond established patterns of thought in imaginative and creative ways
  6. Ethical Reasoning
    Assessing and weighing of moral and political beliefs and practices, and their applications to ethical dilemmas
  7. Information Literacy
    Locating, evaluating, citing, and effectively using information
  8. Quantitative Literacy and Symbolic Reasoning
    Applying mathematical, statistical, and symbolic reasoning to complex problems and decision making

Foundational Areas

In addition, each of the five Foundational Areas has three specific goals of its own. They are:

Area One: The Creative Arts

  1. Examine the nature of creativity, especially imaginative and intuitive thinking
  2. Situate creative works, and judgments about those creative works, in their appropriate social and historical context
  3. Develop the student's own creative and expressive abilities, so that the student can better understand the qualities that shape an artist's work

Area Two: Traditions That Shape the Western World

  1. Explore the diverse historical and philosophical traditions that have shaped the contemporary Western world
  2. Read and discuss fundamental texts from those traditions, situating the texts in their appropriate intellectual contexts
  3. Develop the student's ability to critically and comparatively reflect on religious and philosophical issues, in dialogue with others both past and present

Area Three: The Global and Cross-Cultural Experience

  1. Explore those habits of thought and feeling that distinguish regions, countries, and cultures from one another
  2. Discuss, in comparative and cross-cultural perspective, the concepts, patterns, and trends that characterize contemporary global politics
  3. Develop the student's capacity to critically analyze major issues in international and intercultural relations, especially how categories of difference are organized within and across cultures and how they affect political systems

Area Four: Social Institutions and Behavior

  1. Study the institutions, systems, and patterns of governance and of economic and social organization that underlie contemporary societies
  2. Place policy options and their consequences in their appropriate social and political context, drawing on classic and contemporary theories of human organization
  3. Develop the student's capacity to critically reflect on the organization of societies and the relationship between the individual and the society, using the distinctive methods of inquiry appropriate to the study of social institutions

Area Five: The Natural and Mathematical Sciences

  1. Investigate the natural world and the living forms that inhabit it by studying the systems and processes that occur at scales from the atomic to the cosmic
  2. Develop problem-solving skills and utilize the scientific method to describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena through laboratory experiences
  3. Analyze the role of science in public discourse and in addressing societal problems