General Education Program Handbook, 2023-2024

Introduction

Grand Valley State University educates students to shape their lives, their professions, and their societies. The university contributes to the enrichment of society through excellent teaching, active scholarship, and public service. Grand Valley’s liberal education fosters critical-thinking, creative problem solving, and cultural understanding for the benefit of lifelong learning and global citizenship. Liberal education is achieved through the General Education Program, courses in the major, electives, and cocurricular experiences. This handbook outlines the General Education Program.

MISSION     |TOP|      

The General Education Program prepares students for informed citizenship, leading to responsible participation in local, national, and global communities.

PHILOSOPHY    |TOP|   

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 their 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 and the specialized with the general. The General Education Program helps students become literate and enlightened 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.

FACULTY ROLE    |TOP|   

Units with courses in the General Education Program are expected to ensure that all faculty members who teach in the program are knowledgeable about its student learning outcomes. Minimum qualifications for faculty members assigned to teach in the General Education Program include:

  • an understanding and appreciation of the mission and outcomes of the GVSU General Education Program
  • adherence to the GVSU Faculty Qualifications Policy

Student Learning Outcomes

KNOWLEDGE OUTCOMES     |TOP| 

Graduates know:

  1. about the major areas of human investigation and accomplishment — the arts, the humanities, the mathematical sciences, the natural sciences, and the social sciences.
  2. about their own culture and the culture of others.
  3. how academic study connects to issues in the world.

SKILLS OUTCOMES    |TOP| 

Graduates are proficient in:

  1. Collaboration: Effectively work on a team.
    • Helps the team move forward by articulating the merits of alternative ideas or proposals.
    • Engages team members in ways that facilitate their contributions to meetings by both constructively building upon or synthesizing the contributions of others as well as noticing when someone is not participating and inviting them to engage.
    • Completes all assigned tasks by the deadline; work accomplished is thorough, comprehensive, and advances the project; proactively helps other team members complete their assigned tasks.
    • Actively promotes a constructive team climate.
       
  2. Critical thinking: Comprehensively evaluate issues, ideas, artifacts, or events before forming a conclusion.
    • States an issue clearly and describes it comprehensively.
    • Uses appropriate evidence that includes relevant context(s), which facilitates a comprehensive analysis or synthesis of the issue.
    • Develops a position that thoroughly takes into account the complexities of an issue, limits of the position, and synthesizes others’ points of view.
    • Develops conclusions, implications, and consequences that are logical and reflect an informed evaluation based on strength of evidence.
       
  3. Ethical reasoning: Apply ethical principles and codes of conduct to decision making.
    • Recognizes ethical issues when presented in a complex, multilayered (gray) context and can recognize interrelationships among the issues.
    • Names the major ethical theory or theories used, presents the gist of said theory or theories, and thoroughly and accurately explains the details of the theory or theories used.
    • Applies ethical theories to a complex issue accurately and considers the full implications of the application.
    • States a position in-depth and effectively defends against other ethical perspectives.
       
  4. Information literacy: Identify the need for information; access, evaluate, and use information effectively, ethically, and legally.
    • Defines the scope of the research question or thesis with clarity and appropriate depth.
    • Accesses information by using effective, well-designed search strategies and the most relevant research tools.
    • Chooses a variety of quality sources appropriate to the scope and discipline of the research question, incorporating seminal works and essential theorists/thinkers by using multiple evaluative criteria.
    • Organizes and synthesizes information from sources to fully achieve the intended purpose, with clarity and depth.
    • Completely and accurately cites all information sources used by appropriately paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting.
       
  5. Integration: Apply knowledge from experiences and multiple disciplines to new, complex situations.
    • Connects examples, facts, or theories from multiple disciplines and applies them to new, complex situations.
       
  6. Oral communication: Effectively prepare and deliver a formal oral presentation.
    • States a thesis that is compelling, precisely stated, appropriately repeated, and strongly linked to the supporting material.
    • Organizes the presentation in a clear, consistent, and cohesive manner.
    • Uses language that is imaginative, memorable, compelling, appropriate for the audience, and enhances the effectiveness of the presentation.
    • Uses delivery techniques that make the presentation compelling and the speaker appears polished and confident.
    • Uses a variety of supporting materials that significantly enhances the presentation.
       
  7. Problem solving: Design and evaluate an approach to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal.
    • Constructs a clear and insightful problem statement that includes all relevant contextual factors.
    • Identifies multiple approaches for solving the problem that applies to a specific context.
    • Proposes one or more solutions/hypotheses that are sensitive to contextual factors and the ethical, logical, and cultural dimensions of the problem.
    • Evaluates solution(s) thoroughly and insightfully and does all of the following: considers the history of the problem, reviews logic/reasoning, examines feasibility of the solution, and weighs impacts of the solution.
       
  8. Quantitative Literacy: Work effectively with numerical data.
    • Calculations are correct, solve the problem, and are presented clearly and concisely.
    • Skillfully converts data into an insightful mathematical portrayal in a way that contributes to a deeper understanding.
    • Uses the quantitative analysis of data as the basis for deep and thoughtful judgments, drawing insightful, carefully qualified conclusions.
    • Uses quantitative information in connection with the purpose of the work, presents it in an effective format, and explains it with consistently high quality.
       
  9. Written communication: Write effectively for multiple purposes and audiences.
    • Develops relevant and compelling content that is appropriate for the intended audience and purpose and illustrates the writer’s mastery of the subject.
    • Successfully follows and executes a wide range of writing practices particular to a specific discipline, audience, purpose, and writing task.
    • Skillfully integrates high-quality, credible, relevant sources that are appropriate for the discipline, audience, purpose, and writing task to develop the writer’s own ideas.
    • Uses language that skillfully communicates meaning to readers with clarity and fluency; consistently follows appropriate grammatical conventions.

Please note: Skills SLOs were revised June 21, 2019, after the Handbook was published.

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General Education Requirements

Note: Department proficiency or placement examinations do not fulfill General Education requirements.     |TOP| 

FOUNDATIONS

Courses in the Foundations category introduce you to the major areas of human thought and endeavor. These courses present the academic disciplines as different ways of looking at the world, introduce you to the varied methods used to create knowledge, and acquaint you with major questions and principles of the field. Requirements:

  1. Arts (one course)
  2. Historical Analysis (one course)
  3. Mathematical Sciences (one course or MTH 126 + STA 126)
  4. Physical Sciences (one course)*
  5. Life Sciences (one course)*
  6. Philosophy and Literature (one course)
  7. Social and Behavioral Sciences (two courses from two different disciplines/course prefixes)
  8. Writing (one course)

*At least one of the Physical Sciences or Life Sciences courses must be a lab course.

CULTURES   

Courses in the Cultures category prompt you to recognize yourself as a cultural being, and to understand the diverse ways in which people organize life and perceive the world. It enhances your ability to live and work intelligently, responsibly, and cooperatively in a multicultural nation and an interdependent world. Requirements:

  1. Global Perspectives (one course)
  2. U.S. Diversity (one course) 

Note: Courses with a Cultures designation may count for Foundations or Issues credit in addition to Cultures credit. See the specific course for details.

ISSUES 

Courses in the Issues category provide you opportunities to integrate learning and co-curricular experiences to build connections between prior understanding and new learning. Issues courses are problem-solving courses that encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration within each class. They also develop your understanding of some of the most compelling issues of our time: globalization, health, human rights, identity, sustainability, and the connected topics of information, innovation, or technology. Requirements:

  • Two courses (two courses from two different disciplines/course prefixes)
  • Courses can be within the same Issue or from different Issues
  • If a course is cross-listed in two disciplines/course prefixes, your second course must be taken from a third discipline/course prefix.
  • Issues courses must be taken at GVSU (except study abroad).
  • Issues courses have a junior standing prerequisite (you must have completed at least 55 credits prior to taking an Issues course; you can register for the class while the final credits are in progress).

Note: Courses in the General Education Program are subject to change without notice. Consult myBanner for the most accurate information.

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Graduation Requirements

GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS     |TOP| 

As an undergraduate, you are pursuing a baccalaureate degree. To earn your degree, you need to meet certain minimum requirements. Your degree is divided into several components.

University Requirements
These classes help you attain competency in reading, writing, and mathematics.

General Education
You will complete 11–13 courses in the General Education Program. This is a crucial part of your education; these courses will provide you with the skills and breadth of knowledge that are the hallmarks of an educated person.

Major Program
You will complete a major program that will educate you in a specific field. A cumulative GPA of 2.0 is required in the major. Some majors specify higher GPAs; consult the catalog

Supplemental Writing Skills (SWS)
You must complete two courses from the SWS section that carry an SWS designation. 

Other Requirements

  • You must complete a minimum of 120 semester hours. This averages 15 hours each semester for eight semesters. Some majors require more than 120 hours; consult the Grand Valley State University Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog. Courses numbered below 100 are developmental and do not count toward graduation credit.
  • You must earn a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 for all coursework attempted at Grand Valley. Some majors have a higher required GPA; consult the catalog
  • You must complete 58 hours at a senior institution; your last 30 hours must be taken at Grand Valley.

Note: A minor program is not generally required for graduation. If you elect a minor, you must earn a GPA of at least 2.0 in the minor. 
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Mathematics and Writing Requirements

MATHEMATICS REQUIREMENTS     |TOP| 

Initial Math Placement

Mathematics Proficiency Testing

  • Mathematics proficiency testing is available to improve your placement. There are proficiency tests for MTH 110 (Algebra), MTH 122 (College Algebra), and MTH 123 (Trigonometry). Testing is free, and results are available immediately. GVSU mathematics placement process 

MTH 110
MTH 110 is the prerequisite to some courses in the Mathematical Sciences Foundations. The MTH 110 prerequisite is fulfilled by one of the following:

  • Successfully complete MTH 110 or MTH 108 and MTH 109
  • Initial mathematics placement of “MTH 110 Fulfilled” or higher
  • Pass the MTH 110 proficiency test
  • Transfer credit for MTH 110, 122, 123, 124, 125, 201, 202, 203, 225, or 302
  • AP credit for MTH 201 and/or 202 (Score of 3 or higher required.)
  • CLEP credit for MTH 122 or 201

WRITING REQUIREMENTS     |TOP| 

  1. General Education Foundations Writing requirement
  2. SWS requirement (two courses)

1.  General Education Writing Requirement

Students can complete the GE Foundations Writing requirement by taking either WRT 150 or WRT 120 and 130. If you feel confident in your writing skills and have experience writing researched essays, it is recommended you take WRT 150 during the fall or winter of your first year. If you have less experience writing in high school or you would like more practice and support to develop your writing skills, you should register for WRT 120 in the fall and WRT 130 in the winter.

WRT 120 — Strategies in Writing - Stretch I
The first course in a two-course sequence designed for students who desire more time, practice, and support to complete the first-year writing requirement. Students will practice drafting and researching strategies and gain confidence in their writing and research skills. Students develop fluency and master conventions of standard academic writing.

WRT 130 — Strategies in Writing - Stretch II
Continuation of WRT 120. Students learn strategies for research-based writing. They practice writing processes to build well-supported arguments and incorporate sources. Students must earn a grade of C (not C-) or better to fulfill the Foundations – Writing requirement. WRT 120 and 130 or WRT 150 are prerequisites to SWS courses.

WRT 150 — Strategies in Writing
Students practice different kinds of academic writing and learn strategies for rhetorical research-based writing. They practice writing processes to build well-supported arguments and incorporate sources. Students must receive a grade of C (not C-) or better to fulfill the Foundations – Writing requirement. WRT 150 is a prerequisite for any SWS course. Credits: 4

2.  Supplemental Skills Writing Skills Requirement

After completing WRT 130 or WRT 150 with a grade of C (not C-) or better, students must take two courses designated SWS. These courses are designated SWS in each semester’s course schedule. Not all sections of a multisection course are designated SWS; only those sections that carry the designation will result in SWS credit. Supplemental Writing Skills

  • Transfer students with a MACRAO or MTA associate’s degree must pass one SWS course with a grade of C or better.

Guidelines for Enrolling in SWS Courses

  • Students must earn a grade of C (not C-) or better to receive SWS credit. If a student does not earn at least a C in an SWS course, they can repeat the course or take and successfully complete another SWS course.
  • Students should complete the Foundations - Writing requirement with a grade of C (not C-) or better before enrolling in an SWS class.

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Foundations

ARTS   |TOP| 
Each course in this category is an introduction to an area of study in the visual and performing arts and includes direct exposure to works of art or live performances and preparation of written responses to the experiences. You will realize that art functions as a major cultural force in the experiences of individuals and communities. An understanding of the arts helps people define what is meaningful and significant in life.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain principles and questions that define the arts and analysis of formal elements of works of art.
  2. Explain how meaning in the arts is created and interpreted.
  3. Explain the historical and cultural contexts for artists and their works.
  4. Skill Outcome #1:
    • Critical thinking: Comprehensively evaluate issues, ideas, artifacts, or events before forming a conclusion; or
    • Written communication: Write effectively for multiple purposes and audiences.
  5. Skill Outcome #2:
    • Collaboration: Effectively work on a team; or
    • Oral communication: Effectively prepare and deliver a formal oral presentation

HISTORICAL ANALYSIS     |TOP| 

Analysis of the past enables societies to collect, interpret, and share knowledge of where they have been, explore the origins of their core values, and assess how past decisions account for present circumstances In addition, analysis of the past nurtures you by providing a broader perspective of your place within time. The construction of interpretations around causation, change, continuity, and chronological thinking provide important sites of contestation. Historical analysis of the past based on primary sources creates an informed, discriminating citizenry capable of careful analysis to better inform decisions in the present.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain how causation, change, continuity, chronological thinking, based on comprehension of primary sources (textual, material, or both), shape historical analysis and interpretation.
  2. Evaluate a range of primary sources (textual, material, or both) as evidence of historical analysis and interpretation.
  3. Recognize and evaluate historical analysis and interpretation in a variety of secondary sources.
  4. Skill Outcome #1:
    • Written communication: Write effectively for multiple purposes and audiences; or
    • Critical thinking: Comprehensively evaluate issues, ideas, artifacts, or events before forming a conclusion; or
    • Oral communication: Effectively prepare and deliver a formal oral presentation.
  5. Skill Outcome #2:
    • Problem solving: Design and evaluate an approach to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal; or
    • Ethical reasoning: Apply ethical principles and codes of conduct to decision making; or
    • Information literacy: Identify the need for information; access, evaluate, and use information effectively, ethically, and legally.

LIFE SCIENCES     |TOP| 
The life sciences are the study of the structure and function of living things. Such study ranges from the level of molecules within cells to ecosystems of organisms interacting with each other and their environment. Study of the concepts, history, contexts, and methodologies of the life sciences assists you in becoming scientifically literate. Courses in this category prepare you to understand and appreciate not only yourself as an organism, but also other organisms in the world around you. Courses contribute to the development of critical-thinking and problem-solving skills and help you apply an understanding of scientific ways of thinking to make more informed personal and social choices.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain how life scientists investigate and understand the physical universe.
  2. Explain unifying concepts of the life sciences such as evolution and cellular organization and organisms.
  3. Skill Outcome #1:
    • Information literacy: Identify the need for information; access, evaluate, and use information effectively, ethically, and legally; or
    • Quantitative literacy: Competently work with numerical data.
  4. Skill Outcome #2:
    • Collaboration: Effectively work on a team; or
    • Problem solving: Design and evaluate an approach to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal.

MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES     |TOP| 
The development of formal reasoning and abstract thought has been a defining characteristic of civilization. Through the study of the mathematical sciences, you develop your ability to reason and solve problems with abstract ideas or quantitative information. Full participation in many professional and public policy discussions requires the ability to express scientific, economic, or social issues in quantitative terms. Study of the concepts, history, contexts, and methodologies of the mathematical sciences assists you in becoming a quantitatively literate citizen.

Courses introduce you to the foundations of mathematical, logical, and quantitative reasoning. They develop your mathematical, statistical, quantitative, or logical reasoning skills in ways that allow these skills to be transferred or used in other content areas.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain principles and questions that define computer science, logic, mathematics, or statistics.
  2. Apply techniques for problem solving including recognition of key elements, the choice of suitable methods for solving a problem, and the appropriate application of these methods. 
  3. Skill Outcome #1:
    • Critical thinking: Comprehensively evaluate issues, ideas, artifacts, or events before forming a conclusion; or
    • Quantitative literacy: Competently work with numerical data.
  4. Skill Outcome #2:
    • Collaboration: Effectively work on a team; or
    • Problem solving: Design and evaluate an approach to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal.


PHILOSOPHY AND LITERATURE     |TOP| 
Literary and philosophical works represent an ongoing conversation about the fundamental ideas and values that shape cultures and civilization. To participate fully in this conversation requires knowledge, both of those works that are recognized as defining the history of the conversation and of works that offer original or critical additions to it in the present. Through the study of great works of philosophy and literature, you will come to understand more clearly your own response to the world and to the ideas that give it form and comprehensibility. 

Courses in this category introduce you to the interpretation of a significant body of literary or philosophical work and assist you in the careful reading, discussion, and analysis of primary texts.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain principles and questions that define philosophy or literature and its contributions to human knowledge and civilization.
  2. Explain the relationship between the works discussed, the cultures in which they were created, and the human concerns they illuminate.
  3. Analyze and interpret one or more primary texts as a major portion of course content.
  4. Skill Outcome #1:
    • Written communication: Write effectively for multiple purposes and audiences; or
    • Information literacy: Identify the need for information; access, evaluate, and use information effectively, ethically, and legally.
  5. Skill Outcome #2:
    • Oral communication: Effectively prepare and deliver a formal oral presentation; or
    • Ethical reasoning: Apply ethical principles and codes of conduct to decision making

PHYSICAL SCIENCES     |TOP| 
The physical sciences seek to explore and explain the structure and processes of the physical universe. They seek to understand the fundamental workings of nature, from the behavior of atoms to the functioning of the galaxies. Study of the history, methodologies, concepts, and applications of the physical sciences assists you in becoming scientifically literate. Each course in this category is a broad introduction to one or more of the physical sciences. Courses contribute to the development of critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and help you apply an understanding of scientific thinking to your own life and career.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain methodologies physical scientists use to explore and understand the physical universe.
  2. Explain ways in which physical scientists use observations and theory to explain and predict the structure and processes of the physical universe.
  3. Explain fundamental concepts, principles, and issues of the physical sciences.
  4. Skill Outcome #1:
    • Written communication: Write effectively for multiple purposes and audiences; or
    • Quantitative literacy: Work effectively with numerical data.
  5. Skill Outcome #2
    • Oral communication: Effectively prepare and deliver a formal oral presentation; or
    • Problem solving: Design and evaluate an approach to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal.

SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES     |TOP| 
The social and behavioral sciences examine the human condition from various perspectives including the study of individuals, communities, institutions, social structure, culture, and international relations. The methods, theories, and empirical findings of the social and behavioral sciences are essential to public discourse and constitute a basis for self-reflection, critical evaluation, public and social policy decisions, and social and cultural changes. 

You select two courses from two different disciplines/course prefixes. Each course introduces the content and methods of a social or behavioral science field. Courses are concerned with the development of principles that explain: A) individual thought, action, and experience, B) collective thought and action, C) group experience, D) the interactions between people in the context of small groups, communities, institutions, states, and societies, or E) the functioning of social systems.

Student Learning Outcomes     |TOP| 

  1. Explain how knowledge in the social and behavioral sciences is created and applied.
  2. Explain major approaches, methods, theories, and substantive findings of the field.
  3. Evaluate and apply concepts and theories from the social and behavioral sciences to real-life examples.
  4. Skill Outcome #1:
    • Critical thinking: Comprehensively evaluate issues, ideas, artifacts, or events before forming a conclusion; or
    • Quantitative literacy: Competently work with numerical data; or
    • Information literacy: Identify the need for information; access, evaluate, and use information effectively, ethically, and legally.
  5. Skill Outcome #2:
    • Problem solving: Design and evaluate an approach to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal; or
    • Ethical reasoning: Apply ethical principles and codes of conduct to decision making; or
    • Oral communication: Effectively prepare and deliver a formal oral presentation.

WRITING    |TOP|  

The study and practice of academic writing integrates a wide network of knowledge and skills, including critical-thinking, rhetoric, research, scholarly argument, logic, creativity, and language. The introductory study of college-level academic writing requires you to develop challenging ideas in clear, focused, well-organized writing, using methods and concepts appropriate for further development in a broad range of other college courses.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Apply general academic writing conventions for language, development, organization, and format.
  2. Engage in the writing process, including invention, planning, organizing, revising, and editing.
  3. Apply at least one academic citation and documentation system (such as MLA or APA style).
  4. Skill Outcome #1
    • Written communication: Write effectively for multiple purposes and audiences.
  5. Skill Outcome #2
    • Information literacy: Identify the need for information; access, evaluate, and use information effectively, ethically, and legally.

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Cultures

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES     |TOP| 

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain how culture affects people’s efforts to understand, use, and survive in their environments, and how these efforts, in turn, affect culture.
  2. Explain within a cultural context the worldviews, language, or ways of life of societies, nations, regions, or people located outside of the United States.
  3. Skill Outcome #1:
    • Critical thinking: Comprehensively evaluate issues, ideas, artifacts, or events before forming a conclusion; or
    • Information literacy: Identify the need for information; access, evaluate, and use information effectively, ethically, and legally.
  4. Skill Outcome #2:
    • Collaboration: Effectively work on a team; or
    • Oral communication: Effectively prepare and deliver a formal oral presentation.

U.S. DIVERSITY     |TOP| 

The United States is a nation that has been, and is increasingly becoming, one composed of people from many different backgrounds. With such diversity come opportunities and challenges, including that of systemic racism and various forms of overlapping discrimination. Those living in the United States must understand how diversity and related issues of power and privilege affect their lives as well as their relationships with people and institutions in their communities.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain historical trajectories and consequences, worldviews, languages, and/or ways of life of diverse cultures within the United States. 
  2. Explain how social constructions of ethnicity/race and at least one of the following social attributes shape group and individual identities: gender, class, abilities, age, sexual orientation, religion, or common history.
  3. Explain how individual and systemic racism affect those who are discriminated against and those who discriminate against others in the United States.
  4. Skill Outcome #1:
    • Written communication: Write effectively for multiple purposes and audiences; or
    • Information literacy: Identify the need for information; access, evaluate, and use information effectively, ethically, and legally.
  5. Skill Outcome #2:
    • Oral communication: Effectively prepare and deliver a formal oral presentation; or
    • Ethical reasoning: Apply ethical principles and codes of conduct to decision making.

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Issues

GLOBALIZATION     |TOP| 
Including issues related to capitalism, economic justice, health, migration and immigration, communication, borders, education, etc.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Explain how complementary and competing perspectives contribute to the ongoing discussion about globalization.

2. Collaboration: Effectively work on a team.

3. Problem solving: Design and evaluate an approach to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal.

4. Integration: Apply knowledge from experiences and multiple disciplines to new, complex situation. 

HEALTH     |TOP| 
Including issues related to equity, disparities, health systems, finance, ethics, access, quality of care, safety, happiness, human development, genetics, etc.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Explain how complementary and competing perspectives contribute to the ongoing discussion about health.

2. Collaboration: Effectively work on a team.

3. Problem solving: Design and evaluate an approach to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal.

4. Integration: Apply knowledge from experiences and multiple disciplines to new, complex situation. 

HUMAN RIGHTS     |TOP| 
Including issues related to political systems, power, war, peace, violence, terrorism, wealth, poverty, privacy, religion, gender, women, children, disabilities, labor, aging, incarceration, torture, etc.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Explain how complementary and competing perspectives contribute to the ongoing discussion about human rights.

2. Collaboration: Effectively work on a team.

3. Problem solving: Design and evaluate an approach to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal.

4. Integration: Apply knowledge from experiences and multiple disciplines to new, complex situation.

IDENTITY  |TOP| 
Including issues related to gender, sexuality, religion, culture, race, class, family, community, difference, education, technology, etc.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Explain how complementary and competing perspectives contribute to the ongoing discussion about identity.

2. Collaboration: Effectively work on a team.

3. Problem solving: Design and evaluate an approach to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal.

4. Integration: Apply knowledge from experiences and multiple disciplines to new, complex situation. 

INFORMATION, INNOVATION, OR TECHNOLOGY     |TOP| 
Including issues related to media, privacy, access, transparency, intellectual property, ethics, economics, creativity, education, politics, etc.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Explain how complementary and competing perspectives contribute to the ongoing discussion about information, innovation, or technology.

2. Collaboration: Effectively work on a team.

3. Problem solving: Design and evaluate an approach to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal.

4. Integration: Apply knowledge from experiences and multiple disciplines to new, complex situation. 

SUSTAINABILITY     |TOP|  
Including issues related to the environment, population, natural resources, economic development, social justice, energy, etc.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Explain how complementary and competing perspectives contribute to the ongoing discussion about sustainability.

2. Collaboration: Effectively work on a team.

3. Problem solving: Design and evaluate an approach to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal.

4. Integration: Apply knowledge from experiences and multiple disciplines to new, complex situation. 

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Study Abroad

STUDY ABROAD ISSUES GUIDELINES    |TOP| 

Earn six or more credit abroad:

  • You must take two three-credit courses at the host institution to fulfill your General Education Issues requirement. Both courses may be from the same discipline/course prefix. Most three-credit courses will count. You may not use independent study, independent research, or independent readings.
  • You must submit a written reflection paper with the corresponding form, which can be found on the Study Abroad website, to the General Education office within 60 days after the end of the study abroad program in order to request credit for the Issues requirement. 
  • Courses cannot count for both Issues and Foundations credit.
  • One of the courses completed abroad will also automatically fulfill the Global Perspectives requirement.

Earn three credits abroad:

  • Take one three-credit course abroad. You may not use independent study, independent research, and independent readings.
  • You must submit a written reflection paper with the corresponding form, which can be found on the Study Abroad website, to the General Education office within 60 days after the end of the study abroad program in order to request credit for the Issues requirement. 
  • Take one three-credit Issues course at GVSU from a different discipline/course prefix.
  • Courses cannot count for both Issues and Foundations credit.
  • The course completed abroad will also automatically fulfill the Global Perspectives requirement.

Faculty-led Program:

  • If you are participating in a GVSU faculty-led program you must take two three-credit courses from two different disciplines/course prefixes to receive Issues credit. You may not use independent study, independent research, and independent readings.
  • If the faculty-led program offers two or more courses from the same discipline/course prefix, you can use only one of the study abroad courses towards the Issues requirement. The second Issues course must be taken at GVSU and be from a different discipline/course prefix.
  • You must submit a written reflection paper with the corresponding form, which can be found on the Study Abroad website, to the General Education office within 60 days after the end of the study abroad program in order to request credit for the Issues requirement. 
  • Courses cannot count for both Issues and Foundations credit.
  • One of the courses completed abroad will also automatically fulfill the Global Perspectives requirement.

STUDY ABROAD ISSUES FAQ

Am I required to secure the departmental approval for each study abroad course before submitting my Study Abroad Issues form to the General Education office? 
Some courses are already preapproved. Please check the pre-approved course equivalencies list on the Study Abroad website first. If the course(s) is/are not on that list, you must secure departmental approval for each course prior to submitting your General Education (GE) Issues Study Abroad Course Approval form.


Can I submit my Study Abroad Issues form prior to departure?
No. Your GE Issues Study Abroad Course Approval form requires that a written reflection essay be attached when you are requesting approval to earn credit for the Issues requirement. If you submit the form prior to departure, it will not be complete. The General Education director will not review the information until you submit the written reflection upon your return from study abroad.

Can I get credit for Issues and my major with the same course?
Yes. If the course you complete abroad meets major or minor requirements, it can also be used to meet the General Education Issues requirement.

Is it possible for me to earn credit for Global Perspectives, Issues, and my major with one course abroad?
Yes. With the appropriate approvals, you can earn credit for all three requirements with one course.

I am not on the Allendale Campus. Can I submit my Study Abroad Issues form electronically?
Yes. All Issues forms and reflections must be submitted online through the Study Abroad website

I am taking a course abroad that has been approved to fulfill a Foundations requirement. Can I use the course to fulfill a Foundations and an Issues requirement?
No. Students will not receive approval for a course to count as a General Education Foundations requirement and a General Education Issues requirement. You will have to choose which requirement you would like to have met once you have completed the course.

Can I use a language course to fulfill the Study Abroad Issues requirement?
Yes. The criteria for receiving approval for the Study Abroad Issues requirement are outlined on the Study Abroad Issues form.

  • The course you complete abroad must be approved as a three-credit course at GVSU.
  • The course cannot fulfill a General Education Foundations requirement nor can the course be an independent study, independent readings, or research.
  • If you are participating in a faculty-led program or are taking less than six credits abroad, your two Issues courses must be from two different academic disciplines/course prefixes.
  • If a course is cross-listed in two disciplines/course prefixes, your second course must be taken from a third discipline/course prefix. 

Can I use courses such as photography, dance, painting, internship, etc. to fulfill the Study Abroad Issues requirement?

Yes. The criteria for receiving approval for the Study Abroad Issues requirement are outlined on the Study Abroad Issues form.

  • The course you complete abroad must be approved as a three-credit course at GVSU.
  • The course cannot fulfill a General Education Foundations requirement nor can the course be an independent study, independent readings, or research.
  • If you are participating in a faculty-led program or are taking less than six credits abroad, your two Issues courses must be from two different academic disciplines/course prefixes.
  • If a course is cross-listed in two disciplines/course prefixes, your second course must be taken from a third discipline/course prefix. 

Where can I find the forms I need to submit?
Forms and further instructions can be found by going to the Study Abroad website under Academics and General Education

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Page last modified January 30, 2024