General Education courses should be among the most rigorously crafted the College has to offer. Intellectually transparent and demonstrably distinctive from departmental courses, they should explicitly address their relevance to the social, ethical, and technological challenges we face, both individually and collectively. Bringing together intellectual community across disciplinary lines, General Education courses should force encounters with the unfamiliar, unsettle presumptions, and encourage surprising intellectual connections. Rather than teaching within or about the disciplines, they use intellectual tools to grapple with fundamental problems.
In order to better distinguish them from departmental courses, General Education courses should be:
- relevant, in that each has, as its center of gravity, a significant, serious problem or issue that, whether our students realize it or not, will have a profound impact on their own lives as ethically engaged citizens in a rapidly changing world;
- practical, in that it’s our job to bring our scholarly expertise to bear in such a way as to show our students how to grapple with problems for themselves, in a subtle and sophisticated manner – i.e., to bequeath to them some measure of practical wisdom;
- challenging, in that, from the very first day of class, we express to our students by our words and by our own example the high level of commitment we expect from them.