Philosophy of General Education

Ensuring that undergraduate students receive a broad general education has been a primary goal of colleges and universities since their inception. In this era of increasing specialization and growing demand for professional expertise, it is vital that we continue to emphasize the value of general learning.

Grand Valley State University maintains that a complete education involves more than preparation for a particular career. A career occurs in the context of a life, and a sound general education helps one "make a life" as well as "make a living." The University therefore remains committed to assuring that all undergraduate students, regardless of academic major or intended profession, receive a broad education rooted in the arts and sciences.

The focus of our General Education Program is to provide students with an education that balances depth with breadth, the specialized with the general. The General Education Program helps students become literate in a sophisticated way in a number of disciplines, and it fosters their ability to make connections across various domains of knowledge. Such preparation will provide students with the general knowledge and skills necessary to participate intelligently in the discourses that shape local, national, professional and global communities.

Teaching in the liberal tradition is at the heart of Grand Valley's identity, and this focus is critical in our General Education Program. Liberal education transcends the acquisition of information; it goes beyond the factual to ask important evaluative and philosophical questions. Liberal learning holds the fundamental principles and suppositions of a body of knowledge up to inquiry, question, and discussion. It helps a person recognize the assumptions under which he/she operates and encourages the examination and questioning of those assumptions. Liberal learning begins in the General Education Program and continues through the more specialized studies comprising each student's major and minor areas of study.

GVSU is dedicated to making sure that our students, via their academic majors, become competent specialists in their fields of endeavor. An equally pressing priority is that our graduates also possess the marks of a generally educated person -- that they will have acquired the broad knowledge and life skills that will allow them to be informed and thoughtful people. These ideals co-exist within our institution, and together they produce people who can contribute to their own well-being, their communities, their professions, and the world in which they live.