After a student self-evaluates their aptitudes and inclinations, one or more fields of study, or majors, are chosen to deepen his/her knowledge. General education, on the other hand, tends to work independently of your major to a certain degree.
It can be seen as a broad framework on which the major as well as a student’s general ability for inquiry and absorbing knowledge rests. The way a university goes about formulating its own General Education Program (GEP), also referred to as core curriculum, is by gathering questions about knowledge, and therefore relevant subjects, into broad-stroke categories intended to guide students towards the construction of this general education framework.
In designing its own GEP, AUM adopts a distributional system, in which concerned faculty members reach a minimum consensus about how the disciplines are divided and grouped. Within these categories formed, the student can choose from a set of classes that will contribute towards a partial fulfillment of their degree.
More precisely, in the case of AUM, students get to choose from options available in Communication in a Global Society, Data and Quantitative Literacy, Scientific Inquiry, Tradition and Innovation in Arts and Humanities, and Understanding our Past and Present through Social Science. Through these, students develop an intellectual tool kit including quantitative reasoning, global cultures, cultural diversity, ethics and leadership.
General education sets out to attain mainly two goals:
1) It exposes students to broad categories of knowledge that touch upon all the areas in arts and sciences that are conventionally considered central to a well-rounded liberal arts education, and
2) It seeks to sharpen students’ critical and applied skills that support the student in real life regardless of what their major is.
These two benefits prompt the student to develop mental habits that are carried on into a life that has a love for and curiosity about knowledge even after graduation.
This wide-angled approach to education encourages students to gain insight into different modes of inquiry set forward by different disciplines. While there probably are as many GEPs as there are American universities, the primary motive is not necessarily to expose the student to a vast number of categories of knowledge, but rather to open up a wide spectrum of questions for the student. By pondering a task or problem at hand from different critical standpoints using these varied questions as tools, the student can reach a more solid understanding and additional routes of study may present themselves.
At the least, by covering a broad range of areas in GEP, students leave university with an eclectic knowledge allowing them to cope in different case scenarios. At best, the students may discover a passion or calling for areas that would have otherwise been left untapped.