Faculty and staff learn about revised general education requirements

Assistant Dean of Office for General Education visits New Kensington

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — General education courses are not new to the Penn State curriculum, however, the Office for General Education has been working to make sure they are solidified as a meaningful and engaging part of students’ education and experience.

Margaret Slattery, assistant dean for general education and director of the Office for General Education, visited Penn State New Kensington to meet with faculty and staff and provide an overview of the revised general education requirements for students starting at Penn State in summer 2018.

Current students will not see a change to general education requirements. 

Slattery also wanted to take time to stress the importance of general education for every student and his or her future.

“We know that companies are going to expect [graduates] to think broadly and integrate from various perspectives,” said Slattery.  “The important part is that general education can do lots of things for you, but it makes you a better engineer, better businessperson, or better at whatever career you wish to be part of. It lets you consider problem solving from multiple perspectives. It helps you know and understand differences when we work in a global economy. It’s about the pace of change and being able to be flexible and accommodate the change.”

The Office for General Education was founded upon recommendations of the University’s General Education Task Force, which worked for three years to determine how to enhance student learning within general education. 

Penn State’s general education curriculum assists students with seven learning objectives, including effective communication; key literacies; critical and analytical thinking; integrative thinking; creative thinking; global learning; and social responsibility and ethical reasoning.

While students’ general education requirements still total 45 credits worth of academic work within baccalaureate degree academic plans, the biggest revision includes the addition of integrative studies courses.  Six credits of inter-domain or linked courses will be required of students. These classes provide students with opportunities to take classes that span across different academic domains and provide faculty the opportunity to explore different domains and course designs.

The New Kensington campus has been part of general education conversations for some time. Donald Bruckner, associate professor of arts and humanities at the campus, has been part of the University’s first General Education Faculty Fellows initiative since 2016.  

Bruckner is one of 16 faculty members across the University in the program and was chosen due to his experience teaching general education courses, showing commitment to innovative course designs, and commitment to student learning. Bruckner was also a recipient of one of the first Integrative Studies Seed Grant awards in 2017 through the Office for General Education. The award program incentivizes faculty to develop courses for the new integrative studies requirement. 

For more information about Penn State’s general education requirements and objectives, visit gened.psu.edu