Office for General Education announced as new unit in Undergraduate Education

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Undergraduate Education has announced the addition of a new unit, the Office for General Education, to develop and lead the General Education curriculum for all undergraduate students at the University and to support faculty development in this area. The unit was created as a result of recommendations from the University Faculty Senate to Penn State Provost and Executive Vice President Nick Jones regarding the need for a structure to provide ongoing support for General Education at Penn State.

“Every student at Penn State has to complete 45 General Education credits in pursuit of their baccalaureate degree,” said Jackie Edmondson, associate vice president and associate dean for Undergraduate Education. “As the General Education curriculum develops, students will have new options to add both breadth and depth to their education. We anticipate that faculty will provide unique opportunities for students through integrative studies courses and other new courses and experiences that align with the new objectives and criteria.”

The unit is the evolution of the General Education Task Force, which has worked for the past three years to determine what actions should be taken to advance General Education requirements at the University. The task force worked across all campuses, listening to input from throughout the Commonwealth. The final report included recommendations for opportunities to enhance student learning in General Education. On April 28, the faculty senate voted to approve, without amendment, all six recommendations made by the General Education Task Force.

Charged with leading the new office as interim director and assistant dean is Margaret Slattery, assistant professor and undergraduate program coordinator for biomedical engineering at Penn State. Slattery led the General Education Task Force as a co-chair along with Janet Schulenberg, associate director for curriculum and technology in the Division of Undergraduate Studies, and Mary Beth Williams, professor of chemistry and associate dean for undergraduate education in the Eberly College of Science.

“I am excited to be a part of the new energy and effort on behalf of the University to make General Education a meaningful part of every Penn State student’s experience and education," said Slattery.

One of the significant changes recommended by the task force, an integrative studies requirement, was designed to encourage explicit integrative thinking and provide students with opportunities to learn in contextualized ways so that connections between domains are made clear. The office will administer new initiatives to support faculty who teach in General Education, especially those who are interested in contributing to the new integrative studies course. “A goal of mine is to also recognize excellence in teaching for General Education,” said Slattery.

The new General Education requirements are expected to begin for students in the 2018-19 program year. Until then, new courses, specifically integrative studies courses, will be in development and may be available to current students.

The Office for General Education is part of Penn State Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at undergrad.psu.edu.

For more information about the Office for General Education, contact Slattery at mjs436@psu.edu.

Last Updated August 18, 2016