As a liberal arts college with a strong emphasis on professional preparation, general education courses are an essential component of a Meredith education.
According to Director of General Education Paul Winterhoff, the program has a lasting impact on students.
“General education is designed to ensure that students acquire a broad education in the liberal arts and sciences, and especially to help them acquire the skills and dispositions necessary for living productive, fulfilling, and engaged lives as U.S. citizens and world citizens,” said Winterhoff.
Given its central role, it’s critical that the program remains as strong as possible. Last year, General Education underwent comprehensive program assessment and in March received the program reviewers report, which had a range of recommendations. In the coming year, the General Education Committee will propose revisions to the program based on the reviewers’ analysis and their own research.
To that end, the Committee is holding a Listening Tour over the next two months. The tour will take place on the dates of departmental faculty meetings between October 21 and November 18. Winterhoff and members of the Committee will take information and ideas to department meetings, listen to what faculty have to say, and return to the full Committee with departmental feedback.
“We believe the way to accomplish revisions that are in the best interest of students, faculty, staff and the College as a whole is to fully inform teaching faculty of our direction and to listen carefully to what they have to say,” said Winterhoff. “As a major curricular program, General Education is under the purview of teaching faculty, and it is ultimately their responsibility to vote up or down on any proposed changes in the program.”
Beyond the obvious aspect of “fulfilling requirements,” what role does Meredith’s general education play in preparing students to succeed?
“We often hear that students discover their ‘real’ choice of a major or minor through a Gen Ed course that they took ‘because they had to,’” said Winterhoff.
He noted that skills and dispositions acquired through general education include things like creative problem solving, critical thinking, the ability to collaborate with diverse groups of people to accomplish goals, using quantitative skills, being engaged in advancing the good of their communities, prioritizing health and wellness, and information and technological literacy.
Such skills are important to students – and employers.
“These are among the important skills and dispositions that our Gen Ed program sees as important learning outcomes, and we emphasize them because we know they are what employers and graduate education programs seek in individuals with bachelors’ degrees,” said Winterhoff.
By Gaye Hill