THE GENERAL STUDIES STATEMENT OF PHILOSOPHY
Though knowledge may be pursued for its own sake, it assumes its most vital role when it is used for personal enrichment and the betterment of society. Since acquisition precedes use, the cornerstone of the General Studies Program is the acquiring of knowledge common to educated people. Students should become acquainted with the various methods of inquiry and the ways by which knowledge is generated, accessed, organized, tested, and learned. Further, students must develop the ability to process, synthesize and evaluate acquired knowledge for use in making intelligent decisions. In other words, students must be equipped with a knowledge base and thinking skills to make sound choices by critically thinking through a problem, communicating their findings, and assessing the implications in the practical world at large.
Program Goals and Intended Student Outcomes
Goal No. 1: Develop the ability to locate and gather information
The explosion of knowledge in the twentieth century and the variety of formats in which information is being presented have resulted in the need for more sophisticated tools and capabilities to gain access to that information. At the same time, the need for information has accelerated. Informationóand the knowledge of the technological and traditional tools to access that informationóis necessary for making intelligent decisions and informed judgments and for the enrichment of personal life. Computer literacy is an important means for achieving these ends.
Intended Student Outcome: Access and gather information from print and electronic sources.
Goal No. 2: Develop the capacity for critical thinking, reasoning, and analyzing
It is necessary for students to learn to evaluate and analyze information‚óin all physical and social sciences, humanities, and professional endeavorsóin order to make intelligent use of that information. Students need to learn that there are numerous ways of discovering and processing information, and applying it to a given situation. The General Studies Program should equip students with the ability and desire to think critically and to reach well reasoned conclusions about specific issues. Only as students become skillful in evaluating and analyzing information will they be able to engage in the intellectual activities which require critical thinking.
Intended Student Outcome: Understand and utilize systematic problem solving techniques.
Intended Student Outcome: Analyze textual information.
Intended Student Outcome: Understand cause and effect relationships.
Intended Student Outcome: Understand basic scientific concepts and methods.
Goal No. 3: Develop oral, written, and mathematical skills
The mastery of oral, written, and mathematical skills is an essential component of the General Studies Program. These skills are a fundamental requirement in any society which encourages and thrives upon the free interchange of ideas and information. In this context, mere functional literacy can never be an adequate goal; students should attain a level of proficiency in math and English which will enable them to become informed, effective citizens in their society and world.
Intended Student Outcome: Develop effective speaking skills.
Intended Student Outcome: Employ Standard Written English usage and mechanics.
Intended Student Outcome: Effectively develop and write reports and essays, employing thesis, textual support, and analysis.
Intended Student Outcome: Develop competent mathematical skills.
Intended Student Outcome: Utilize tools such as charts, graphs, and equations to represent functional relationships and explain their meaning.
Intended Student Outcome: Utilize computer technology in developing written and mathematical skills.
Goal No. 4: Develop an understanding of past human experiences and the ability to relate them to the present in order to be more discerning of the future
One important characteristic of human beings is their ability to understand and transmit the accumulated knowledge of the past from one generation to another. This understanding of the historical perspective enables each generation to build on the experiences of the past in order to function in the present. The degree to which individuals and societies assimilate the accrued knowledge of previous generations is indicative of the degree to which they will be able to use their creative and intellectual abilities to enrich their lives and the culture of which they are a part.
Intended Student Outcome: Develop a concept of chronology in relation to literary, historic, and artistic periods.
Intended Student Outcome: Develop an understanding of the sociological, economic, cultural, political, and intellectual contours of the human past.
Intended Student Outcome: Understand and apply historical perspective and social scientific methods for critical discernment of public issues.
Goal No. 5: Develop an understanding of various cultures and their interrelationships
Understanding how other people live and think gives one a broader base of experience upon which to draw in the quest to become educated. Students should explore different values and beliefs in cultures other than their own and learn to respect the differences. The interrelationships among cultures must be understood in order to promote tolerance and the need for cooperation among diverse cultures.
Intended Student Outcome: Identify ways in which history, values, beliefs, and ideologies affect behavior from culture to culture.
Intended Student Outcome: Expand student understanding of ethnic/cultural diversity.
Goal No. 6: Develop the ability to make informed, intelligent value decisions
Valuing is the ability to make informed decisions after considering ethical, moral, and practical implications. Valuing is a dynamic process that involves assessing the consequences of oneís actions, assuming responsibility for them, and understanding and respecting the value perspectives of others. As a result, valuing is a natural dimension of human behavior and an integral component of the General Studies Program.
Intended Student Outcome: Understand, evaluate, and appreciate the historic, philosophic, and ideological foundations of human values.
Goal No. 7: Develop the ability to make informed, sensitive aesthetic responses
A concern for beauty is a universal characteristic of human cultures. Although the term ìaestheticsî is usually associated with such fine arts as literature, theater, art, music, dance, and architecture, in actuality the term need not be so narrowly defined. All areas of human endeavoróscience, history, sports and recreational activities, as well as the artsócontain elements of beauty. Toward the end of exercising an informed sensibility, students should be exposed to various definitions of beauty, equipped with the appropriate methods of investigation and evaluation, and encouraged to make independent aesthetic judgment.
Intended Student Outcome: Acquire a sense of critical judgment and appreciation for beauty.
Goal No. 8: Develop the ability to function responsibly in oneís natural, social, economic, and political environment
The existence of humankind depends on countless interrelationships among persons and their surrounding world and environment. Students must learn to interact responsibly with their natural environment and with other citizens of their society and world. The General Studies Program should help students to realize that individual freedoms may necessarily be limited and that natural, social, and political harmony begins with the individual. Further, the General Studies Program should foster a desire for political and social systems based on a concern for human rights and just public policy determined through reasoned deliberation. Such an ideal presupposes an educated, enlightened citizenry that accepts its responsibility to understand, participate and evidence leadership in the governance process.
Intended Student Outcome: Gain awareness of how government, politics, and various policies impact nations and their citizens.
Intended Student Outcome: Understand the operation of the economy, forces affecting it, and its impact on society.
Intended Student Outcome: Identify and describe functions of fundamental American institutions.
Goal 9: Develop the ability to maintain health and wellness skills
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by participating in physical activity contributes to a productive life. Understanding elements of fitness and recreation will enable the individual to achieve a quality of lifestyle that portends peace of mind and good physical health.
Intended Student Outcome: Develop a commitment to lifetime fitness and wellness.
This document is a synthesis of the 1993 General Studies Philosophy, approved and adopted by the Shepherd College Faculty in 1993, and the 1997 General Studies Essential Skills, submitted to the State by department chairs; chairs and faculty also submitted input on drafts of this synthesis document ìThe General Studies Philosophy, Goals, and Intended Student Outcomesî in a college-wide discussion of the General Studies Program and its assessment during fall 1998
Approved by the General Studies Committee November 11, 1998
Approved by Curriculum and Instruction Committee February 8, 1999
Approved by the Senate April 5, 1999
Revised February 2000