Re-envisioning General Education

Context
Philadelphia University’s vision to create a model for professional education in the 21st century has been the catalyst for launching new curricular initiatives and for renewing many degree programs, delivery models, and services at Philadelphia University. As part of this comprehensive re-thinking, we are also reviewing the curriculum and delivery of general education at the University.  


College Studies is the general education core curriculum common for all undergraduate majors in the institution. (See “College Studies At Philadelphia University. General Education Reform: The Background and Development of Liberal Education and Liberal/Professional Education at Philadelphia University” by Marion Roydhouse, October 2009.) Although the primary home for general education is the College Studies program, we state in our Academic Catalog and other documents that the delivery of general education is the mutual responsibility of the College Studies and the Majors. Accreditation guidelines for engineering, design, business, architecture, landscape architecture, and the health sciences also identify general education outcomes as a goal and responsibility of the degree curricula of the majors. Thus, the initiative to review general education requires a university-wide process that engages the faculty in both College Studies and the majors in a process that revisits the aims of general education and the methods of its delivery within the current context and aspirations of the University.    


Review
The review of general education establishes a process that invites and integrates multiple points of view from faculty, advisors, scholars, and professionals. First we intend to provide opportunities for dialog and discussions with colleagues external to the University to gain insights that inform our understandings of higher education, our students, pedagogy, learning and assessment, and curriculum design and delivery. The intention of inviting external guests is to generate conversation and debate about innovative approaches and best practices in liberal and integrative education.  


We also want to create the platform for internal discussion and engage all undergraduate programs and the faculty in a dialog about what we want our students to learn and how our curriculum may achieve these goals at Philadelphia University. This University dialog will elicit recommendations and define opportunities that guide the academic planning process and inform the re-visioning of general education.  


Goals of the Review
The questions below serve as goals for general education and its delivery in the University. This process does not seek to reduce the credit allocation to College Studies (the core curriculum), but instead intends to build on this recognized curriculum to further explore and innovate to meet the following goals:  


-    To provide a dynamic integrative educational experience that effectively strengthens general education in the majors and in the core curriculum, and deliberately builds on knowledge as students progress through their studies.

-    To be on the forefront of higher education with the identification and delivery of core literacies and competencies for contemporary undergraduate professional education.  


-    To support the ongoing evolution of general education in the majors and in the core curriculum and to respond flexibly to new course concepts, pedagogies, changes in disciplines and professions, and best practices.  


-    To actively and openly encourage collaboration and experimentation among faculty to achieve general education goals.  


-    To embrace the complexity of effective integrative education by developing processes and procedures for managing and assessing it.

 

Review of the State of General Education at Philadelphia University by Terrel Rhodes and Stephen Trainor