General Education

Approved by the GECC Mission Committee March 2, 2005

  (the GECC has been superseded by the General Education Council (GEC), please refer to the GEC pages for current information)


The primary purpose of this document is to provide a framework for assessment of
general education. It supplements the Shippensburg University Catalog by providing additional
information on the content of the current general education program –specifically, it provides
material to supplement the catalog descriptions of Categories A through E.



The mission of General Education at Shippensburg University is

  • to ensure an emphasis on liberal education at the University; and
  • to provide breadth in the student’s education, allowing the student to become an informed and literate member of society.

Liberal education

  1. has its foundation in study within and across the arts and sciences;
  2. provides education beyond the mere acquisition of specific knowledge and skills;
  3. prepares students to think, communicate, and understand broad issues beyond their major field of study, beyond their geographic locality, and beyond their own position in society;
  4.  prepares students for the challenges and choices they face throughout their lives, in all their various roles;
  5. prepares students for life-long learning; and
  6. provides skills, values, awareness, understanding, perspective, and appreciation for continuing growth in a rapidly changing world.


After completing the general education program students should be able to

  1. demonstrate effective reading, writing, oral communications, and critical thinking;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of ideas, events, persons and creative expressions from history;
  3. use numerical data and mathematical methods for analysis and problem solving;
  4.  find and use information using abstract logical thinking, inductive reasoning, and critical analysis;
  5.  demonstrate an appreciation of and experience with literature and the arts;
  6.  demonstrate a basic understanding of the natural sciences and their significance in contemporary society;
  7. demonstrate an awareness of the social, economic, political, and environmental interdependence of countries and regions of the world;
  8. demonstrate an understanding of the social sciences and their significance in
    contemporary society; and
  9. understand how people's experience and perspectives are shaped by gender, ethnicity,
    culture, and other factors.



 Goals 4 through 8 are currently addressed through Categories A through E of the General Education program, respectively.

The remainder of this document provides descriptions, commonalities, and learning objectives for those categories.

  Category A- Logic and Numbers for Rational Thinking 

  Catalog description 

 The courses in this category emphasize the use of symbols as a means of expressing complex thoughts and information lucidly and accurately. Many involve computational and mathematical operations – that is, the use of mathematics as a symbolic language where each element and rule of operation is defined very clearly in order to obtain precise understanding. Similarly, the remainder of the courses which may be taken to fulfill this requirement stress precise, logical approaches to reasoning; for example, the study of those aspects of philosophy involving the exposition of abstract ideas.

Commonalities among the courses
  • Courses in Category A stress precise, logical approaches to reasoning, in the context of one or more of the following:
    • mathematical models
    • problem-solving strategies
    • · logical discourse
    • · algorithmic reasoning
    • · logical reasoning
    • · formal expressions of complex thoughts


Learning objectives 

 All Category A courses will have one or more of the following learning objectives. For each course, that objective or set of objectives forms a significant focus of the course.

  1. Students will be able to build, interpret, and use mathematical models
  2. Students will be able to solve problems, including problem formulation, solution, and interpretation of the resulting answers.
  3. Students will be able to apply algorithmic reasoning to aid in problem solving.
  4. Students will be able to apply logical reasoning to aid in problem solving.
  5. Students will be able to apply logical reasoning to aid in understanding and analyzing discourse.

Category B--Linguistic, Literary, Artistic, and Cultural Traditions 

Catalog description

Culture is the human-made part of the environment, and the spoken and written work, together with the visual and performing arts are its foundation. The courses required in this category are designed to acquaint the student with the richness and diversity of these aspects of culture, especially with the recognized standards of literary and artistic excellence. The emphasis in this category is also on the breadth and extent of the many cultural experiences and heritages that make up our world. Knowing only the traditions of our own immediate surrounds or even simply those of our country is no longer enough to function effectively in a world where contact between varied cultures and knowledge of their interaction had become normal and expected.

Commonalities among the courses

Category B courses provide students with tools for comprehending cultural phenomena in the humanities, which may include the following:

  1. examples of literature (in English and other languages), together with criteria by which they are evaluated
  2. studies of foreign languages,
  3. works from the visual and performing arts;
  4. examples of traditions and histories from different parts of the world, representing diverse cultures.
Learning objectives

  Upon completion of any Category B course in Literature or the Humanities, students will be able to

  1.   identify styles, genres, and techniques in literature (English or foreign languages) or in the visual or performing arts,
  2.   recognize literary movements or other cultural contexts in which literature or works from the visual or performing arts were produced

  3. research artistic models and create responses to them.

(Note: Some of the language courses in Category B are included as part of the language requirement for a Bachelor of Arts degree,)


Category C—Biological & Physical Sciences  


Catalog Description 


Basic scientific literacy is necessary for knowledge of ourselves as a species and of the universe in which we live. The courses in this category have two comprehensive objectives —

1) to make clear what kinds of problems in the physical world are susceptible to scientific

investigation and what kinds of solutions such investigation can produce and

2) to provide an appreciation of the practice of scientific research

and methodology, with its interaction of experiment and hypothesis.

While the requirements of this category may be satisfied without a

course containing a laboratory component, the university strongly encourages the selection of such courses. Experimentation in the laboratory allows the student both to observe and to participate directly in the systematic observation

of nature and the principles of its investigation. One course must be taken from those listed in three of the following disciplines.


Commonalities among the courses: 


Courses in this category are aimed at appeloping a scientific understanding of the universe in which we live, and of ourselves as a species. To this end, Category C courses introduce students to the scientific method and its use in the description of natural phenomena. This method of inquiry is based on the following framework:


• The development of abstract models, theories, or laws to describe or gain understanding of natural phenomena

• The application and the testing of these models through empirical observation or experimentation.


In spite of this common framework, the different disciplines of Category C, as well as different courses within those disciplines, may place significantly different emphasis on the various aspects of scientific inquiry.


Learning Objectives: 


Courses in Category C share the following learning objectives, again with the possibility of significant differences in their relative emphasis:


1. Students will understand the role of scientific models, theories or laws as abstract representations of natural processes.

2. Students will understand how experimentation or empirical observations are used for the development, testing and application of these models, theories or laws.

3. Students will learn about measurement and data analysis which are both necessary to quantify the outcome of experiments and observations.

4. Students will learn about the influence of science on everyday life.

5. Student will develop an ability to critically evaluate scientific results and reports.




Category D—Political, Economic, and Geographic Sciences 


Catalog Description 


Institutions are formal ways which societies and cultures create over time to pursue activities important to them. Two of the most basic institutions in any large, collective society are its governmental structure and its economic system — that is, the ways which a society has chosen to regulate the interaction between individuals and groups and the ways which it has chosen to satisfy and organize its material needs. Both of these frameworks and the remaining institutions of any society are all affected and shaped by their physical environment, the geography in which they are set. In an era of increasingly complex global interaction, an understanding of these institutions in today’s society and the influences which have helped to pattern their development are vital to the citizens of a participatory democracy.


Commonalities among the Courses 


Category D courses introduce the student to a disciplinary perspective—either economic, political, or spatial—on areas of state organization and behavior.


  • The focus of these courses is on states:
    • Policies (both internal and external)
    • Economic, political, or spatial interaction among states
  • International perspective, discipline focus
    • These courses adopt an international perspective in investigating or focusing on the fundamental concepts and techniques of each discipline.
  • Examination of the interactions of individuals and sub-groups.
    • These courses compare and contrast how individuals, sub-groups, and states interact (economically, politically, or spatially) with other individuals, sub-groups, and states.


Category D learning objectives:  


All Category D courses will meet objectives 1 and 2, some will also meet objective 3.


  1. Students will investigate, using the tools particular to each field, the economic, political, social, or spatial interaction among states.


  1. Students will compare and contrast how individuals and sub-groups interact (economically, politically, socially, spatially) with other individuals, sub-groups, and states.


  1. Students will demonstrate an international perspective when examining the policies (both internal and external) that individuals, sub-groups, and states adopt under various scenarios of interaction.



Category E-Social and Behavioral Sciences 



Catalog Description 


An awareness and recognition of the disciplines which examine and analyze group and individual behavior is of increasing importance for all who seek to understand and to predict the patterns and processes of human activity. These disciplines examine the causes of human interaction and the diversity of its organization and structure. Their study will help the student to see the connection between his or her own perspective and that of society and to appreciate the effect social forces have on the individual. The courses in this category will also consider the theoretical frameworks of each discipline and the methods and results of current research.



Category E courses introduce the student to individual, group, cross-cultural, and cross-gendered perspectives on human organization and its impact on behavior.


Commonalities among the Courses 


All Category E courses will have the following commonalities:


1. All courses will promote an understanding of human behavior form the unique perspective of each discipline

2. All courses will provide theoretical and methodological approaches to facilitate an understanding of human behavior

3. All courses will provide an insight to normative and non-normative behavior within and across cultures

4. All courses will promote an understanding of diversity within and across cultures


Learning Objectives 


All Category E courses have the following common learning objectives:


1. Students will be able to summarize, analyze, and evaluate the relevant principles, theories, research, and research methods that are essential to understanding the behavior of individuals and groups.

2. Students will be able to identify patterns and processes of human activity within and across cultures.

3. Students will be able to identify causes of human action

4. Students will be able to identify examples of diversity in human organizations and structures and their impact on human behavior.

5. Students will be able to identify the impact of social forces on individuals and groups.



[1] The mission, description of liberal education, and goals of this document are taken from the SSHE Board of Governors Policy 1993-01, and from the current SU catalog, adapted to the current structure of general education at SU.


Proposal Deadlines

The charts below give an overview of the entire curricular process and the timelines by which proposals must be approved by all constituencies to meet student registration needs.  In essence, the proposal approval process must start approximately one year prior to implementation.  See the UCC Manual or FAQ page for complete details. 

Curricular Changes for Implementation in Summer* and Fall: 

Action Deadline of Previous Academic Year
Department approves final curricular changes and sponsor uploads proposal(s) to UCC website End of October at the latest
Councils approve changes November meeting
UCC reviews proposal(s) December meeting (or final meeting of the semester)
Forum reviews proposal(s) December meeting (or first meeting of the Spring semester)
President acts on proposal(s) February
Changes ready to go to Banner, before scheduling begins March 1st

Curricular Changes for Implementation in Winter* and Spring:

Action Deadline of Previous Academic Year
Department approves final curricular changes and sponsor uploads proposal(s) to UCC website End of March at the latest
Councils approve changes April meeting
UCC reviews proposal(s) May meeting (or final meeting of the semester)
Forum reviews proposal(s) May meeting (or final meeting of the semester)
President acts on proposal(s) June
Changes ready to go to Banner, before scheduling begins September 1st

*Note: Existing courses that are being proposed for Distance Education delivery mode are expedited and will be considered by UCC within 30 days of being posted to the UCC website (after which they are presented as information items to Forum and the President). These should be submitted as early as possible in order to gain approval before scheduling begins. For the Winter Term, expedited DE proposals must be complete and on the late September UCC agenda. For the Summer Term, expedited DE proposals must be complete and on the February UCC agenda.


Contact Us

University Curriculum Committee
Shippensburg University
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA 17257

Chair - Billy Henson

Secretary - Matthew Cella