Curriculum Description & Definitions

The General Education Program is required of all students entering Shenandoah University as a first-year/freshman. This requirement is in addition to the college/school requirements and the major/program of study requirements. Transfer students should consult with their advisor and/or the Director of General Education concerning their General Education requirements.

Students should direct all questions regarding General Education to your college/school/program Dean or Director, and/or the Director of General Education, Dr. Amy Sarch at asarch@su.edu.

Program Objectives

Shenandoah University’s General Education program targets eight primary areas that the faculty and students have identified as essential to productive citizenry:

  1. critical thinking;
  2. effective communication;
  3. artistic expression;
  4. quantitative literacy;
  5. scientific literacy;
  6. moral reasoning;
  7. the individual in society;
  8. the individual in the world.

The General Education requirements are designed to enhance the skills of our students within all of these areas.

Critical Thinking

Definition: Critical thinking is the process of analyzing a problem in an impartial, rational, and methodological manner.  Necessary skills in this process include the ability to identify the salient arguments, accurately interpret available evidence and justify conclusions in an objective manner.

Objectives: Students who complete the General Education program shall demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Accurately interpret evidence, statements, graphics, questions, expression, etc.;
  2. Identify salient arguments (reasons and claims) pro and con;
  3. Thoughtfully analyze and evaluate alternative points of view;
  4. Justify key results and procedures, explain assumptions and reasons; and
  5. Objectively follow where evidence and reason lead.

Effective Communication

Definition: In order to communicate effectively, individuals must understand the operations of language in the context of social, cultural, and discipline-specific norms.  Effective communication requires fluency in expressing and articulating ideas, reading and listening actively, and using and understanding multiple modes of language delivery, including technology.  Students must demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively in both written and oral form.

Written Communication Objectives: Students who complete the General Education program shall demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Adapt written presentations through analysis to fit an audience;
  2. Use evidence ethically and appropriately to inform, investigate, or persuade;
  3. Use the composing process (brainstorming, drafting, revising, and editing) in developing texts/presentations;
  4. Distill a primary purpose into a single central idea;
  5. Develop major points in a reasonable, organized, and convincing manner based on a central idea; and
  6. Present ideas using standard conventions of grammar, usage, and mechanics.

Oral Communication Objectives: Students who complete the General Education program shall demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Understand how to construct an oral presentation for a specific audience or situation according to appropriate conventions of a discipline or profession;
  2. Present their ideas in a clearly organized and well-developed manner, using effective verbal delivery skills related to the context;
  3. Identify the appropriate use of information and sources in the construct and delivery of their presentation; and
  4. Demonstrate the effective use of instructor/audience feedback in the development and delivery of their presentations.

Artistic Expression

Definition: For students to fully understand their world, they need to appreciate the human capacity for artistic expression through performance or study.  Art stretches boundaries and the study of art reminds students of their own capacities to create and express themselves beyond conventional expectations.  Art is humankind’s symbolic search for meaning and purpose, and it is expressed through media such as literature, music, dance, theater, the visual arts and other forms of artistic expression.  The study of art is at the liberating center of the student’s individual development and expression; the study of art is not an ornament of the General Education program.

Objectives: Students who complete the General Education program shall demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Understand a single medium of art which will function to introduce students to the arts as a whole;
  2. Understand the historic and social circumstances that affect art;
  3. Understand the traditions of artistic form and genre;
  4. Articulate clearly the terminology of the medium they study;
  5. Recognize major themes; and
  6. Be able to analyze and criticize a specific artistic medium.

Quantitative Literacy

Definition: Mathematical literacy is an individual’s capacity to identify and understand the role that mathematics plays in the world, to make well-founded mathematical judgments and to engage in mathematics in ways that meet the needs of that individual’s current and future life as a constructive, concerned and reflective citizen (PISA, 2000).

Objectives: Students who complete the General Education program shall demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Apply mathematical methods to solve problems;
  2. Analyze information with an appropriate mathematical model and interpret the results; and
  3. Organize mathematical information using multiple representations and understand the applicability of each.

Scientific Literacy

Definition: Scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity.

Objectives: Students who complete the General Education program shall demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences;
  2. Describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena;
  3. Read with understanding articles about science in the popular press so that one can engage in assessment about the validity of the conclusions;
  4. Identify scientific issues underlying national and local decisions and express positions that are scientifically and technologically informed;
  5. Evaluate the quality of scientific information on the basis of its source and the methods used to generate it; and
  6. Pose and evaluate arguments based on evidence and to apply conclusions from such arguments appropriately.

(A portion of these objectives reprinted with permission from the National Science Education Standards copyright 1996 by the National Academy of Sciences, Courtesy of the National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.)

Moral Reasoning

Definition: Moral reasoning involves an ability to recognize the moral implications of various situations, policies, and decisions, and an appreciation of and respect for the variety of perspectives operative  a multi-cultural and global context.  To act morally and ethically one must be able to discern a course of action that is consistent with one’s core values in relation to one’s socio-cultural environment (as these are shaped be religious and philosophical commitments).  Responsible citizenship involves providing publicly accessible reasons for one’s course of action consistent with one’s core values while respecting moral pluralism.

Objectives: Students who complete the General Education program shall demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Identify the moral relevance of specific behaviors, policies, and/or issues;
  2. Display recognition of the way foundational moral and ethical principles grounded in philosophical or religious worldviews shape moral perception and discernment;
  3. Identify the way different religious and philosophical or cultural perspectives shape moral perceptions and discernment;
  4. Articulate reasons for a course of action consistent with one’s personal moral values; and
  5. Analyze and explain a moral perspective different from one’s own and provide reasoned responses to it.

The Individual in Society

Definition: The study of the individual in society investigates the individual and societal aspects of the human experience.  Courses that fulfill this objective will provide students with an appreciation for the interrelationship of the person and the societal environment, along with providing the opportunity to explore historical and/or theoretical principles related to the foundation and development of human and/or societal behavior.

Objectives: Students who complete the General Education program shall demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Identify the biological, physiological, historical and/or social underpinnings of human behavior;
  2. Understand how individuals and/or society develops physically, cognitively, historically, and/or politically;
  3. Articulate and apply appropriate theoretical/historical frameworks for understanding the human experience; and
  4. Assess how social situations affect human/societal behavior.

The Individual in the World

Definition: The study of the individual in the world investigates peoples, cultures, and/or governments different from the students own in an attempt to foster an appreciation of cultural diversity.  Such a global perspective is a cornerstone of productive citizenry in the 21st century.  As a result, courses that fulfill this requirement will provide students with multiple perspectives, global awareness, and personal engagement.

Objectives: Students who complete the General Education program shall demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Describe a cultural viewpoint different from their own and discuss the advantages of a different cultural viewpoint
  2. Provide an example of interdependence and discuss a global issue from an interactive and interdependent perspective; and
  3. Articulate the importance of developing a global perspective and identify resource options available for use in developing such a perspective.

Domains of Knowledge

Seven domains of learning form the foundation of the General Education program at Shenandoah University. Each domain fosters at least one element of the program’s primary goals. The General Education program at Shenandoah University exposes students to multiple methods of thinking, questioning and knowing. Through an exploration of the domains of communication in multiple contexts, the arts and society, quantitative literacy, the scientific world, moral reasoning, foundations of human behavior, and historical and cultural perspectives, students develop an awareness of the world around them and the ability to perform effectively in the communities in which they engage.

The following is an overview of the seven domains. A maximum of six credits per domain may count toward a student’s General Education requirements with the exception of the effective communication domain (in which students may take nine credits) and the scientific literacy domain (in which students may take a maximum of eight credits).

Domain Credits
1) Effective Communication (EC)(Every student must complete ENG 101 or its equivalent and an Oral Communication course) 6-9
2) Artistic Expression (AE) 3-6
3) Quantitative Literacy (QL) 3-6
4) Scientific Literacy (SL) 3-8
5) Moral Reasoning (MR) 3-6
6) The Individual in Society (IS) 3-6
7) The Individual in the World (IW) (Every first-time, first-year student must complete FYS 101) 3-6
Total General Education Domain Credits   30 credit minimum

 

Quick Reference Guide for General Education

Students must complete at least one course in each of the seven domains.

  • Students must complete at least three credits in each of the seven domains.
  • A maximum of six credits per domain may count toward a student’s General Education requirements with the exception of the effective communication domain, in which students may take a maximum of nine credits, and the scientific literacy domain, in which students may take a maximum of eight credits.
  • Students must complete ENG 101 or its equivalent and an oral communication class (these courses will fulfill the domain one requirement).
  • First-time, first-year students must complete the FYS 101 course (this will fulfill the domain seven requirement).
  • Students must complete a minimum of thirty General Education credits.