While the greater part of students’ courses of study will be in their major fields, the General Education curriculum provides a degree of balance between the focus of the major and the broader traditional objectives of higher education. Accordingly, Gen Ed offers a wide variety of elective choices and many individual pathways through the curriculum.
Context for General Education at WSU
Washington State University is a research institution, a land-grant university, and a public university with a teaching mission. The university’s complex institutional character governs all that it does.
Its research emphasis means that WSU teachers are themselves adding to the sum total of human knowledge, not just summarizing or passing on what others have done. WSU attracts nationally and internationally recognized faculty who create an environment for asking--and for answering--some of today's toughest social and scientific questions.
Land grant institutions embody an ethic of service to the public. They exist to serve society through research, outreach, and teaching. Being a part of the land grant tradition means that WSU participates in the historic trend in this country to “democratize” higher education, to make it accessible to more and more of the citizenry, and to open up opportunities for all—to women, minorities, working people, farmers, everyone.
Teaching is the glue that holds it all together; it is the core of the university’s activities. It closes the loop and unifies the three missions. Creating new and passing on existing knowledge to successive generations integrates the university with the larger community. The task of uncovering the past provides a basis for understanding both the present and our future prospects.
National Context for General Education at a Research University
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching provides insight into that topic in its Boyer Commission Report on Educating Undergraduates, titled, "Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America's Research Universities."