General Education Resources




Can 100/200 level courses be in the upper-division component?
No. All courses must be offered at the 300/400 level. 

Can a student fulfill the upper division requirement in transfer?
No. Because the upper-division component courses will have a significant focus on developing the skills of integration, collaboration, and problem solving  and less of a focus on content, transfer courses will not be used to satisfy the upper-division requirement.

What are the Upper Division Issues?
The focus of the upper-division component is on big contemporary issues (courses with a historical focus will need to demonstrate a connection to current issues).

The seven topical areas are:

1. Globalization—including issues related to capitalism, economic justice, migration and immigration, communication, borders, education, etc.

2. Health—including issues related to equity, disparities, health systems, finance, ethics, access, quality of care, safety, happiness, human development, genetics, etc. 

3. Human Rights—including issues related to political systems, power, war, peace, violence, terrorism, wealth, poverty, religion, gender, women, children, disabilities, labor, aging, incarceration, torture, etc.

4. Identity—including issues related to gender, sexuality, religion, culture, race, class, family, community, difference, education, etc.

5. Information, Innovation, and Technology—including issues related to media, privacy, access, transparency, intellectual property, ethics, economics, creativity, education, politics, etc.

6. Sustainability—including issues related to the environment, population, natural resources, economic development, social justice, energy, etc.

7. Study Abroad

All of these focus on large issues with global impact. All courses in the category must also focus on achieving integration, collaboration and problem solving.

How will a department know how many sections of an Issues course to schedule?
We don’t know how many sections will be needed of any particular course. Because the incoming freshmen in 2014 won’t be enrolled in Issues courses until 2016, we will begin to get a sense for student interest in the Issues as the students enrolled in Themes also have the opportunity to take Issues course.

Can Issues courses have prerequisites?
Like current Themes courses, these courses can have limited prerequisites. All courses should be accessible to a variety of majors.  All courses will have Junior-level standing as a prerequisite.

Can an Issues course double dip in the Foundations? What about the Cultures?
Issues courses can’t double-dip in the Foundations, but like Theme courses they will be able to double-dip with either Cultures category (U.S. Diversity or World Perspectives) if the unit is willing to teach and assess those additional goals.

Can an Issues course count in the major?
That decision is up to the Unit.

Will students have enough expertise to represent their discipline's approach to a problem?
All Issues courses are offered at the 300 or 400 level to ensure that students have an appropriate level of intellectual maturity. By their junior year, most students will have taken a significant amount of course work both in and outside of their major.

Do you really expect students to "solve" problems?
Perhaps we should say "tackle" a problem, or "address" a problem, instead of solve. Students will learn to identify a problem, conduct the necessary research to inform them of what has already been done to address the problem, and then work in a group  to contribute to the problem's solution.


What will happen to Themes?

The upper-division GE component will be fulfilled only by Issues courses instead of Themes beginning with all new transfer students and all incoming freshmen in Fall 2014.

What will happen to my Theme Course?
It will be up to each department if they would like to propose courses for the new upper division component. Each course will need to demonstrate a connection to one of the proposed Issues and show how it will meet the integration, collaboration, and problem solving goals.

What will be the process to get a course into the upper-division component?
All courses will need to do the General Education Form and a Course Change or a New Course Proposal. The proposal will follow the on-line curricular process (unit head, college curriculum committee, Dean, GE Committee, UCC, Provost). We are developing a streamlined version of this process to accommodate the number of proposals we are likely to see.


Do we know if students are achieving the current goals?

Overall, students at GVSU are achieving the skill and content goals in the GE program. Each course in General Education assesses student learning for each of the skill and content goals their category is responsible for.. Go to for the current results.

How do we change GE category content goals?
Any faculty member can email GE (, asking us to convene a meeting with instructors of courses in any category. These members can propose adding, deleting, or changing the content goals. One person will fill out the form asking for the change in wording. The GE office will have each Unit Head sign the change and the form will go to the GE Committee and UCC for approval. At that point the language in the GE Handbook will be changed and all courses in that category will teach and assess the new content goals.

Will each GE Category have to achieve all of the existing and proposed goals?
No, they will have to meet only the goals assigned to their category. After consulting with faculty about the most natural fit for teaching and assessing goals in their course, the final GE Proposal describes the goals a category needs to meet. Of course faculty can teach goals that their category is not assigned.

How will the Foundation and Cultures courses demonstrate how they will meet the new goals?
Each Foundation and Cultures course will submit a new Course Assessment Plan (CAP) to be approved by the GEC. The CAP will show how the course intends to meet the new goals. If the new CAP is not approved by Feb. 1, 2013, the course will be dropped from the GE Program beginning with the 2013-14 catalog.

How will GE assessment change for Foundations and Cultures courses?
Currently, courses in each Foundations and Cultures category are responsible for teaching and assessing three skills goals (writing or speaking, critical and creative thinking, and information literacy). We are adding new goals but we are distributing them through the program so that courses in each Foundations and Cultures category are responsible for teaching and assessing two skills goals. See the distribution plan outlined in the final proposal at the GE website.

How will we teach and assess some of the skills goals in large classes?
There are a variety of pedagogies that can be used to effectively teach and assess learning in large classes. The GEC and the FTLC will offer workshops to help with the transition. In some cases, course size may need to be adjusted.

How will GE assessment change for Theme courses?
Currently, courses in each Theme category are responsible for teaching and assessing five skills goals (writing, speaking, critical and creative thinking, information literacy, and integration). All upper-level courses in the new Issues categories will be responsible for teaching and assessing three skills goals: integration, collaboration, and problem solving.





February 24

Call for proposals for the First round of Issues courses

April 2

Deadline to apply for First round of Issues courses

May 24 or 30

FTLC training for First round of Issues courses

August 5

Deadline for First round of Issues courses to be submitted to the on-line Curriculum process


Training for Foundation and Cultures faculty about teaching and assessing new student learning outcomes

October 15

Governance approved First round of Issues put in the 2013-14 Schedule




February 1

Call for proposals for the Second round of Issues courses

March 1

Deadline to apply for Second round of Issues courses


FTLC training for Second round of Issues courses


Deadline for First round of Issues courses to be submitted to the on-line Curriculum process


First round of Issues courses offered

October 15

Governance approved Second round of Issues put in the 2014-15 Schedule





All new transfer students and freshman required to take Issues courses





2014 Freshman are Juniors, Issues need to be brought to scale



Page last modified January 4, 2013