General Education

Purpose and Outcomes

Aims of General Education


Higher education is more about acquiring skills than assimilating an inert body of knowledge.   To that end, WSU's General Education  prepares students for lifelong learning, equips them with research skills, and builds competence in evaluating information and constructing knowledge in multiple ways.  Fundamental to all these skills is the ability to think critically.

WSU's General Education Program is designed to serve the following aims:

Provide a Foundation for the Major

To function well in the workplace, it is necessary to see beyond it.  The General Education curriculum encourages integration of students’ anticipated careers within larger, more encompassing and multiple contexts.  Exposure to different values, perspectives, and cultural traditions is a valuable preparation for the kinds of work that college graduates do, and this knowledge can significantly enrich awareness of the context and meaning of careers.

Realize Individual Student Potentials

A traditional purpose of higher education is to foster and develop potentials in the individual.  General Education offers opportunities for personal enrichment and serves a variety of intellectual, aesthetic, and creative interests.  The curriculum provides opportunities for introspection and testing one’s own values as well for enlarging one’s vision.  The several kinds of study required in General Education are designed to contribute to the development of higher intellectual skills, such as critical thinking, and essential communication skills.

Prepare for Membership in the Community 

General Education prepares students for citizenship in a free society.  The curriculum represents an effort to provide elements of the ever-changing body of valuable common knowledge.  Shared knowledge and values growing out of common educational experience help to bind society together and make communication possible.  Writing proficiency and information literacy are high priorities at WSU, and the foundation of these skills is laid in the General Education courses.  The curriculum also provides opportunities for hands-on service learning and emphasizes study of the relevant past as a way for students to understand and engage contemporary issues.

Facilitate Integration of Knowledge 

The breadth of General Education requirements reflects our historical experience of how new knowledge has been acquired and how it is likely to be acquired in the future.  Consequently, the curriculum facilitates the acquisition of a working knowledge of a broad range of scholarly methods, from the arts and humanities to the sciences.  One of the goals of General Education is to assist students to understand the characteristic ways of acquiring knowledge in different fields of study, and methods of verification and communication.

General Education, PO Box 644519, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-4519, 509-335-5699, Contact Us