Exemplary General Education Statements
Please scroll through the general education statements below for exemplary models of how to incorporate the Gen Ed learning objectives in a course syllabus.
|Course Subject and Number
||Gen Ed Designation
||The Solar System
||Introduction to Classical Archaeology
|Comm Disorders 210
||Introduction to Communication Disorders
||Modern German History, 1750 to the Present
||China, Origins to the Ming Dynasty
||Modern & Premodern Japanese Literature in Translation (1600-1945)
||People and their Language
||Introduction to Medical Microbiology
||The Lively Arts
||Introduction to Philosophy
|Plant,Soil,and Insect Sci. 190s
||Plants in Our World
|Political Science 101
|Public Health 160
||My Body, My Health
|Resource Economics 121
||Hunger in a Global Economy
|Women's Studies 187
||Introduction to Women's Studies
Anthropology 100 -- Dr. Robert Paynter
Human Nature (SB, G)
Anthro 100 Human Nature meets the General Ed SB (Social and Behavioral Sciences) and the G (Global Social and Cultural Diversity) requirements. SB courses aim to introduce you to what and how we know about individual and social life, that human individual and social life is constantly changing, and that individual and social life have systematic forces that shape them. G courses have the goals of learning that people live very different lives because of the diversity of ways societies have of being human, to help you understand the nature of some of these human differences, and through understanding these differences become receptive to pluralistic perspectives for understanding our world.
In a nutshell, here’s how this course addresses these issues. Central to an Anthropological take on Human Nature is the idea of culture. Culture is the distinctive manner in which the human species makes its way in history. At different times and places, people, living in societies, have been influenced by and have continued to make anew this awesome thing called culture. None of these cultures can stop change though some have tried. Some long term changes are brought on by changes in our bodies, some by changes in our environment, and some by the internal workings of the cultures we have created. These changes do not happen willy nilly or at the behest of any individual’s will, but for reasons having to do with how we socially produce energy, exercise social power, and explain all of this to one another. We’ll learn about these ways of life, as they were in the deep human past and as they are today, by spending time studying people who live in ways quite different from, as well as quite similar to, our life in an industrial-capitalist settler nation state that struggles with its divisions of class, race, ethnicity, and gender. I, along with the other faculty at the University, think it is important that a University education introduce you to this perspective, to give you an insight on how to make a bountiful and fulfilling future for us all.
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Astronomy 101 - Dr. Todd Tripp
The Solar System (PS)
This class satisfies the physical science (PS) general education requirement. According to the UMass General-Education Council, "the purpose of the General Education requirement is to stretch students' minds, broaden their experiences, sharpen their critical thinking and evaluation skills, and make connections through shared experiences." In this course, students will be provided with some knowledge of the physical sciences and the methods used by physical scientists. In this context, students will be required to think about and solve conceptual and quantitative problems of astronomy and physics, including some moderately challenging topics. This will involve some use of basic math. Students will also learn some of the historical background of astronomy and current open questions and goals of the science.
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Biology 106 - Dr. Judy Goodenough
Human Biology (BS)
This is a general education course carrying the BS designation. It must meet certain criteria to retain this designation. The criteria and the means of addressing them in a large class are listed below.
1. The course should cover the fundamental principles of the science.
We will cover the anatomy and physiology of the major systems of the human body and apply these principles to personal health whenever possible.
2. The course should include critical thinking.
A. The exams will include "application" questions. You will be given information (or a scenario) that we have not discussed in class. You will have to apply what you have learned to a new situation.
B. There will be periodic in-class discussions that focus on current social issues. We will explore the conclusions that can be drawn based on the current experimental evidence.
C. Some of the extra-credit assignments will require critical thinking. The in-class writing assignments will ask you to apply a concept discussed in that class to a new situation. Some the extra credit homework assignments will require critical thinking.
D. You have the opportunity to write a research term paper.
3. The course should address the relevance of the science and its impact on society.
A. Some of the extra credit assignments will address social issues.
B. We will have periodic in-class discussions prompted by issues currently in the media.
C. You have the opportunity to write a research term paper.
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Classics 103 - Dr. Anthony Tuck
Introduction to Classical Archaeology (AT)
The General Education Curriculum is designed to enhance critical reasoning skills, encourage the creation of cross cultural connections, and promote the broadening of one’s intellectual perspective though its range of courses. This course will ask you to consider historical parallels between the modern world and that of the Ancient Mediterranean, take into account the wide range of perspectives and voices that informs and shapes the historical narrative of the period, and develop and communicate these ideas through a dynamic interaction with your peers as well as through efficient, clear written expression.
Successful completion of this course will fulfill a General Education AT designation. This class is designed to not only introduce you to the material history of the Mediterranean and Western Europe, but also encourage you to consider the social, political and economic motivations that motivate the form and development of some of the Western world’s greatest aesthetic achievements. Through this, you will come to understand structures such as the Parthenon of Athens or Rome’s Temple of Jupiter Capitoline not merely as buildings, but as expressions of the ideas, attitudes, intentions and environment of the people who designed and used them. Moreover, we will consider the ways in which these cultural traditions remain central to Western political and social identity. This will be achieved through careful consideration of the various factors that provoke change in the archaeological record through their presentation in lectures, exams and short papers and through your considered discussion of them through a variety of on-line and group discussion venues.
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Communication Disorders 210 - Dr. Frances Burns, with credit to Dr. Patricia Mercaitis Introduction to Communication Disorders (U)
The first purpose of this introductory level, SPARK-based, General Education Diversity-designation course is to provide you as an undergraduate student with an overview of communication development and the communication disorders professional fields given that we exist in a socially, culturally and linguistically diverse world. Secondly, by successfully completing this course, you as an undergraduate student will be better prepared for your professional role in our diverse society through increased levels of awareness, knowledge, skills and competencies in U. S. diversity and multiculturalism as you prepare to interact with individuals who have had normal communication development, as well as with individuals with all types of communication disorders and/or communication differences from diverse backgrounds.
General Education courses share the common requirements for critical thinking, reflection, writing and the opportunity to discuss course content. These requirements will be accomplished by the activities (assignments, reflections, video analyses) implemented within the discussion sections in addition to activities during the class meetings. The learning components will involve the process and intended outcomes of learning about communication development and disorders in our diverse society: phenomena, ideas, values, one’s self and others, and about learning itself. The four areas of communication interaction: listening, speaking, reading and writing; will be addressed through a diversity perspective with a strong emphasis on oral and written language, and critical thinking/problem-solving.
We will focus on all aspects of primary diversity in our society: ability, race, ethnicity, gender, age, and culture. We will also address secondary diversity issues within the cultures of the major racial cultural groups that comprise our pluralistic society: class, experience, education, and contemplative practices.
As a result of your active participation as a learner, on completion of this course, you will be more knowledgeable about the four professions that comprise the field of communication disorders: speech-language pathology, audiology, hearing science and speech science. You will also learn about normal communication development and the specific disorders of language, speech and hearing seen through the lenses of diversity. You will learn about the critical issues that are driving the personnel needs in this field; specifically the need for bi- or multi-lingual, multi-culturally- educated professionals and paraprofessionals.
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German 323 - Dr. Andrew Donson
Modern German History, 1750 to the Present (HS)
This course surveys the troubled history of the modern German nation-state. It traces how the loose federation of German monarchies and duchies coalesced in the late nineteenth century into a European powerhouse and how the world’s largest and best organized workers’ movement shaped its subsequent development. Students are asked to take a position in the disagreements among historians about the origins of imperial Germany’s explosive internal political conflicts. We explore the contradictions: Why did Germany under the conservative chancellor Otto von Bismarck become the first nation in the world to introduce social security and national health insurance but then fifty years later, under the leadership of another authoritarian leader, torture and murder its Socialists? Why did Germans introduce suffrage for women before all other major nations but vote in 1933 to rescind it and, in addition, abolish their democratic regime, arguably the most progressive in the world? Topics include the absolutism of the old regime, the Enlightenment and the Napoleonic occupation, the 1848 revolution, unification and rule under Bismarck, imperialism under Wilhelm II, the First World War, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi dictatorship, the Second World War and the Holocaust, the divided Germanys, and the Federal Republic since 1989. Special attention is given to the role of youth, workers, women, minorities, and artistic and cultural movements.
Because this course fulfills the general education requirement, we will be reading a variety of texts critically, including a novel, a play, a scholarly monograph, a half-dozen theoretical articles, and numerous short primary sources. Students also have to submit weekly written answers to questions on these texts. These questions are largely conceptual: They ask not merely who someone was but also why that person thought and acted the way he or she did. The goal is to develop the main skill of the historian: the ability to place events and ideas in their historical context and draw conclusions about causes and consequences. In addition, these exercises sometimes ask students to take a position in a debate and, more importantly, offer reasons for their opinion. Their answers to the questions and their opinions then become the basis for class discussions.
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Geoscience 103 - Dr. Mark Leckie
Introductory Oceanography (PS)
Welcome to Introductory Oceanography! There are a number of reasons why you are taking this
class. Many of you are taking this course to fulfill your Physical Science (PS) general education
requirement. Many of you are interested in the oceans and wish to learn more. Perhaps you will decide to major in the Earth or Life sciences and pursue advanced degrees in marine geology or marine biology. Perhaps you plan to go to law school and specialize in Environmental Law or the Law of the Sea. Or maybe your family gets its livelihood from the sea, or spends a lot of time near the coast for pleasure. Over the years perhaps you’ve developed many questions about the sea.
You have enrolled in a general education course designed to acquaint you with the fascinating features of the nearly 71% of our home planet covered by water. The ocean basins are vast regions still shrouded in mystery, where new discoveries are being made every year. Our goal in Geo-Sci 103 is to provide you with a basic knowledge of just how the oceans work, how they impact and control the habitability of our planet, and how vital they are to our very existence. These are broad themes that reflect the spirit and value of the general education curriculum that is a part of your UMass experience. As citizens of our small world, we would argue that everyone should take a course like this! With jet service to almost anywhere in the world, financial markets electronically and politically linked for “real time” transactions 24-7, and global populations striving to live as well as we do here in the U.S., it's important for all of us to gain a holistic view of our integrated geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and cryosphere. At the same time, we want to explore the notion of scientific thinking and analysis. We will discuss how researchers collect data, form ideas, and then test those ideas. We want you to understand the scientific theories that help us understand Earth processes and history. For example, we are sure that the core of the Earth is solid. Why? No one has ever been there. Hurricane frequency and/or intensity are likely to increase in coming years, say climatologists. Why? The Labrador Current moving south along the New England coast is warmer now than it’s been in 70 years. Why? Will this impact the price of fish in the grocery store? We are rapidly depleting our natural hydrocarbon reservoirs. Can the ocean provide alternate sources of energy? Scientific research can help evaluate the impact of human activity on our home planet and it can have a direct effect on public policy. The latter is also governed in large measure by how global change begins to affect our everyday lives.
In addition to a broad introduction to the science of oceanography, the scientific principles upon
which it is based, and the importance of the ocean in our daily lives, there are other benefits of this PS
General Education course. Specifically, the pedagogy used in this course and the policies implemented here are relevant to the real world. For example, meeting deadlines, arriving to class on time, preparing for classes and exams, working in groups, considering diverse perspectives, communicating effectively (see below), and writing well are tangible life skills that will serve you well while you are here and after you leave UMass.
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History 114 - Dr. Sigrid Schmalzer
China, Origins to the Ming Dynasty (HS, G)
This class offers an interdisciplinary approach to Chinese history up through the Ming Dynasty. It
fulfills general education requirements in history (HS) and global diversity (G). Let's take them one at a time.
1) History. Perhaps you think that history means "stuff that happened in the past," and that
taking a history class means listening to a professor tell stories about this stuff and then reciting those
stories on exams. That is not what we will be doing in this class. Rather, I will be introducing you to history as a discipline, as a way of exploring the past – that is, the theory and practice of history. You will not be reading a standard textbook that just lays out all the information on a platter. Instead, the majority of the reading will consist of primary sources. What is a primary source? It's something that was created by the historical actors themselves – that is, by the people in history we're studying.
Primary sources are the evidence that historians use to figure out what happened in the past, how
people lived their lives, and how things changed over time. You will learn to read these sources,
analyze them, and use them to form historical arguments (interpretations of the past). Some of the
materials are secondary sources – that is, they're written by other historians who themselves have
analyzed primary sources and formulated their own interpretations of Chinese history. But even in
these cases, you will not passively read each page, underline the important facts, memorize them, and
then take a test. Instead, you will think, talk, and write about how the authors use primary sources to
make their historical arguments.
2) Global Diversity. This class satisfies the requirement in global diversity because it focuses
on the history of a country that is not the United States or Europe. (This is obvious, right?) However,
my goal is to teach a class on Chinese history that would satisfy diversity requirements even at a
Chinese university. Why? Because we will emphasize the cultural diversity of China itself, the way it has changed over time and across space. China two thousand years ago was NOT the same as China today. The place we call China has not always had the same name; it has not always been the same size; its culture has changed a great deal over time and space. What "China" means to people of Chinese heritage living in the United States in 2009 is very different from what it meant to people living in the fifth century. Even just looking at the fifth century, people living in the north of China were culturally quite different from people living in the south. They did not necessarily even think of themselves as being the same kind of people, as sharing a cultural identity. And China over the years has had changing relationships with foreign cultures; what we know as "China" has been shaped by these foreign cultures over time. Studying diversity is not just a simple matter of studying another country. It means thinking seriously about our assumptions of what constitutes difference and
similarity. It means getting beyond thinking in lump categories like "China" or "America," and instead
recognizing that just because two people may both be considered "Chinese," this doesn't mean that
there is some kind of essential thing that "Chinese" is.
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Japanese 144 - Dr. Stephen M. Forrest
Modern & Premodern Japanese Literature in Translation (1600-1945) (AL, G)
This course is part of the UMass General Education curriculum, and as such has some broader goals in addition to its Japan-specific content. Primarily, it addresses two fundamental questions: what is literature and why do we read it, especially outside our own language and culture? In addition, and no less important in terms of the goals of the Gen Ed program, the course also encourages a diverse outlook on culture, promotes the ideal of lifetime learning, and develops through discussion and writing the important skills of critical thinking and communication, among others. The course is conducted entirely in English, and all readings are in English. No particular background is assumed. We will encounter some terminology (e.g. poetic forms, literary genres) in Japanese, but English equivalents are also used.
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Linguistics 101 - Dr. John Kingston
People and their Language (SB, U)
Linguistics 101 fulfills both the Social and Behavioral Sciences (SB) and the United States Social and Cultural Diversity (U) general education requirements. It fulfills the SB requirement through the considerable attention paid to how language is simultaneously a product of humans’ unique biology and their diverse cultures, to how language use reflects and creates a speech community’s culture and society, and to how language changes over time. It fulfills the U requirement through its simultaneous emphasis on the diversity of human languages and on the genetic endowment that makes it possible for all humans to learn a language.
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Microbiology 255- Dr. Shelly Thibodo
Introduction to Medical Microbiology(BS)
Introduction to Medical Microbiology is a General Education BS course that offers you an opportunity to learn about basic biological concepts and apply these concepts to understanding infectious diseases and how the human host interacts with organisms that cause these diseases. Case studies are utilized to encourage students to analyze information and predict causes and outcomes of infection. By examining these case studies, we will first hypothesize what possible etiological agents are involved in the disease. We will then suggest how to test for the accuracy of our initial judgment and investigate other possible explanations.
Through laboratory exercises and the group project, students explore how these infectious agents affect human society and also how society influences the transmission, treatment and eradication of these agents. By participating in the group project, students learn to work together to write and present information to their peers, an exercise that will be repeated throughout most professional lives.
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Music 150 - Dr. John Jenkins
The Lively Arts (AT, G)
When UMass established the General Education Curriculum, the provost invited us to create a model Gen Ed Class—The Lively Arts—the university’s first interdisciplinary arts course, designed so you can meet guest artists in person, attend their performances and exhibitions, and learn the language and tools you need to understand how performers and visual artists do their work. A unique feature of The Lively Arts is the opportunity to ask artists questions during lectures. Learning how artists think when they are performing or creating provides insight into their lives and work.
We believe in the importance of the UMass General Education Curriculum because it is a carefully-planned program with clearly-defined goals. Evidence shows that “employers are looking for creative problem-solvers, effective communicators, and productive contributors in a diverse workplace.” We know that these are skills everyone needs. Throughout The Lively Artswe will give you personal attention to help you improve your skills in writing, critical thinking, and working with diverse perspectives.
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Philosophy 100 - Dr. Eileen O'Neill
Introduction to Philosophy (AL)
This course provides a historical introduction to Western philosophy through the interpretation of early modern (16th-18th centuries) texts by canonical male, and recently rediscovered female, philosophers. The instructor will provide information about the historical and cultural circumstances that gave rise to these texts, and will point out rhetorical strategies used by the authors. Historical and literary interpretation will be pressed in the service of providing the best reconstruction of the arguments in these works. Students are expected to utilize the reasoning skills that they acquire at the beginning of the course in their critical evaluations of these arguments. Students will have ample opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of textual interpretation and argument analysis in the weekly at-home writing assignment, and in the in-class essay, quizzes and essay exams. The wide-ranging themes of the course have an underlying sub-theme: sceptical arguments. For example, we’ll examine sceptical challenges to: the theses that “might makes right” and that “women are by nature intellectually inferior to men” (Gournay), our belief that the senses and reason are reliable guides to the truth (Descartes), and our belief that our inductive practices are rationally justifiable. (Hume). Given the importance and breadth of the texts and topics covered, the stress on critical evaluation of arguments, and the focus on written and verbal expression, this course meets the objectives of the General Education Arts and Literature (AL) curriculum.
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Political Science 101 - Dr. Ray La Raja
American Politics (SB)
This course fulfills a General Education requirement (Social & Behavioral Sciences) and, as such, pushes you to examine prior assumptions, broaden your knowledge of the world, sharpen your critical thinking, and engage you in intellectual dialogue with classmates. At the most basic level, this course aims to teach you about American politics. Specifically, you will learn about the ideas, political institutions and political activities that shape contemporary politics in the United States.
One goal is to expose you to foundational ideas concerning American government and democracy. However, I also want to test your assumptions (and that of political ‘pundits’) against evidence. Throughout the course you should ask: how do we know that is true? I ask especially that you listen to alternative perspectives, as a way of discovering the soundness of your own opinions. The course also strives to engage you in politics as a citizen by developing habits of reading newspapers, political blogs and finding sources of information to help you understand the world of politics. You will be asked in this course to learn about who represents you and how they deal with issues that are important to you. Ultimately, I expect students who take this course to participate confidently as citizens in American democracy (or your home country) and perhaps pursue leadership roles in the future.
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Plant, Soil, and Insect Science 190s -Dr. Vahram Elagoz (BS, G)
Plants in Our World (BS, G)
This course will enable the students to study the intricate and often intimate relationship between plants and people, taking an interdisciplinary approach. This is a general education course with a Biological Sciences (BS) and Global Diversity (G) designation. As a BS designation, students will learn fundamental concepts in plant biology including fundamental properties of life, food chains and food webs, plants as primary producers and humans as consumers. One of the primary learning goals will be to understand society’s historical connection to plants and how plants have made an impact on civilizations. The course will also look at current environmental problems that affect local and global food security and supply, alternative food sources and farming techniques. Case studies will be used to show how scientific methods and theories can be applied to problems of global concern while critically evaluating the shortcomings of currents ways of understanding these issues.
As a (G) designation, the course is specifically designed to increase students’ awareness and understanding of diverse regions, cultures, and societies within the context of contemporary global challenges, and to understand how different cultures contrast with more familiar practices in the United States. Specific examples and case studies of communities in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America will be examined to compare cultural practices, including traditional agricultural methods that are more in tune with environmental realities in contrast to modern agricultural production techniques which are typically recommended as the only solution to food shortages and hunger.
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Public Health 160 - Dr. Daniel S. Gerber
My Body, My Health (I)
Public Health 160 My Body/My Health is a general education personal health course. Topics covered are: emotional health, sexual health, substance abuse prevention, date rape prevention, healthy and unhealthy roles for males and females in the 21st century, how to create and live in a healthy community, and how to begin to live in a more sustainable world.
My Body/My Health course integrates different subject areas based on the prominent work of Peter Senge of M.I.T. around systems (holistic) thinking. The idea of systems thinking for this course is recognizing the big picture of health through the dimensions of physical, emotional, intellectual, social, environmental, and spiritual wellness. Also, health is seen as multi-level process of integrating these dimensions with the individual, the surrounding social environment (community), overall society, and physical and environmental structures (the planet).
Overall, students will define what health is for themselves, leading to the clarification of healthy behaviors they already have and changing unhealthy behaviors to live a more healthy life.
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Resource Economics 121 - Dr. Julie Caswell
Hunger in a Global Economy (SB, G)
As a General Education course, our goal is to address fundamental questions, ideas, and methods of analysis in the social sciences; apply these methods of analysis to the real-world problem of hunger; and stretch our minds. Economics as a social science provides us with basic analytical tools with which to look at the world. These tools can help us to understand why hunger exists and is persistent around the world. But they do not provide complete answers or perspectives and part of our job is to recognize their useful applications and their limitations. We do this through critical thinking using data to analyze food supply and demand and then writing about and discussing what we know as well as what we want to know. Our global focus is on hunger where it is most prevalent in Africa and Southern Asia; where it is present but declining, for example in East Asia and Latin America; and where it persists at significant levels in developed countries in Northern America and Europe.
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Women's Studies 187 - Dr. Banumathi Subramaniam, with credit to entire department
Introduction to Women's Studies (I, U)
This course fulfills two general education requirements (interdisciplinary, “I” and domestic diversity, “U”). One goal of higher education is to nurture the potentials in all students. General Education aims at personal enrichment, cultural awareness, and breadth of knowledge. General education requirements will help to prepare you for a lifetime of learning and give you skills for community engagement and informed citizenship.
Women’s studies is fundamentally an interdisciplinary field. You will be introduced to ideas, theories, methods, and concepts from many disciplines. Diversity is central to our conceptions of “women” and “gender” – there is no generic, universal “man” or “woman.” We are always located in networks of other social variables of race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, nationality, ability etc. We will stress the intersectional nature of our identities both in our theoretical and experiential explorations. While the course will introduce you to the philosophical, theoretical and methodological diversities within the field of women’s studies, we will constantly engage and apply these ideas to our lived experiences. We will encourage you to bring your college experiences, bring questions about professional life and training, as well as challenge you to hone your critical thinking skills which will be essential for you to function productively in a diverse and rapidly changing world.
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