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General Education > Statement of Priciples

Spring 2001 General Education III Task Force Statement of Principles

Over the past year members of the task force have met with virtually every academic department and with a number of other campus constituencies, read widely on general education and curricular reform and consulted the various institutional documents including the strategic plan, the mission statement, and the Memorandum of Understanding between New Paltz and SUNY System in order to develop a set of broad principles. We feel the following principles reflect the accomplishments of the past, the needs of the present, and the aspirations for the future of the New Paltz community. As the foundation for continuing discussion and efforts to develop a new model for General Education III we seek your input in developing broad agreement in the New Paltz community on the underlying principles.

Purpose of General Education

At New Paltz the purpose of education is to gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to become a productive member of the community, excel in a profession and participate as an active citizen in building a global, democratic society. General education plays a central role in helping students become effective learners in the college community and achieve the overall purpose of education.

The heart of general education is acquiring the habits of critical thought and effective expression, including:

  • active engagement with ideas and information
  • capacity to analyze and synthesize ideas and information
  • ability to look at the many ways information is presented to us in text, images, and artifacts
  • be able to identify the underlying philosophy, ideology, perspective or assumptions and biases of information
  • understanding the social, political, or disciplinary perspectives inherent in the production of knowledge
  • communicating purposefully through written, visual, numerical, oral, symbolic, and aesthetic forms of expression

In order to develop the habits of critical thought, necessary to be a well-informed citizen, students must acquire a broad base of knowledge and hone their skills of analysis, evaluation, synthesis, and communication. Life long-learners and effective citizens are engaged with developments in a variety of disciplines and understand their relationship to public policies and issues.

The well-informed citizen should have knowledge of:

Arts and Humanities

  • the enduring literary, philosophical, and religious traditions
  • achievements in the arts and their historical, social, and cultural contexts
  • the aesthetic dimensions of sound, movement, texts and images

The Natural World

  • major approaches to the exploration of the physical and biological world
  • the role of theory, method, and mathematics in scientific inquiry
  • how quantitative information and scientific arguments are formed, utilized, and evaluated
  • continuing engagements with on-going developments in the sciences

Political, Economic, and Cultural Processes

  • the historical and social context of political, economic, and cultural developments in American society and around the globe
  • the historical and social scientific perspectives on human interaction and social institutions

Diversity and Global Community

  • the interaction of diverse ethnic, linguistic, and religious communities in an increasingly globalized context of human civilization
  • the use of another language and understanding the distinctive features of cultures associated with that language
  • an understanding of the multiple and complex backgrounds, preferences, and abilities of individuals and communities

The skills necessary for acquiring the habits of critical thought include:

  • identifying, locating, utilizing, evaluating, and synthesizing information from both traditional and electronic sources
  • investigation, analysis, and quantification to consider alternatives and make decisions
  • articulating reasoned argument through the use of oral and written communication
  • listening to others and interacting effectively in interpersonal and intercultural group situations

Recognizing that students come to us with a variety of backgrounds, abilities, and interests general education provides the broadest foundation for a shared experience of learning, inquiry, and exploration. The self -discovery that goes along with the acquisition of knowledge and the development of skills is essential to the transformation of individuals. It enhances their ability to make connections to a broader community and participate in public life.

The measure of self-discovery includes:

  • identifying the components and underlying assumptions of one's own belief system and understanding oneself in a range of social, cultural, and political contexts
  • cultivating empathy with others, respecting differences, and treating others with grace and civility
  • recognizing the role values play in interpretation and developing the capacity for ethical reflection
  • developing the commitment to becoming a lifelong learner

Based on your feedback about these broad principles the task force will then develop specific goals, objectives, learning outcomes, and a plan for assessment that will be incorporated into the GE III model. The task force has and will continue to be responsive to a host of internal and external constraints while at the same time maintaining a strong commitment to innovation and the values of the New Paltz community.

The GEIII Task Force needs your input! Our next two meetings will be open forums for you to come with your comments, suggestions and questions:

  • April 13th in JFT 1010 10:30 - 11:30
  • April the 20th in CSB 110 11:30 - 12:30

If you cannot attend these meetings please send your feedback to:
Patti Phillips, phillipp@newpaltz.edu, or John VanderLippe, vanderlj@newpaltz.edu, or through our list at geiii-l@newpaltz.edu.