New general ed framework to connect learning


Jack Belcher, Senior News Reporter

New framework that will drastically change general education (GE) requirements at CWU was passed by the CWU Faculty Senate in February. This will be the first change in general education at CWU in over 20 years.

Associate Provost Dr. Bernadette Jungblut stated that the old GE requirements weren’t necessarily problematic, but that it was a very generic model.

“There wasn’t anything particularly distinct or different or exciting about it,” Jungblut said. “You could have taken our model and found a very similar model again, at maybe hundreds of other colleges and universities.”

According to Jungblut, this new model will deliver a more enhanced first year experience to students. It will also help students understand why and how courses relate to one another, linking them in a way so that students can connect their learning. It does this by eliminating required general education classes that a student would take. Jungblut describes this old generic model of GE as a “distribution model.”

“What that means is it’s sort of like a smorgasbord; students take a little bit from here and a little bit from here and a little bit from here, but they don’t necessarily see the connections between and among those different courses that they are taking,” Jungblut said. “The new model is designed so students make and see those connections.”

The hope of this model is that students will find their GE useful to their future, become more curious as students and more effective citizens. According to Jungblut, the university doesn’t want this new GE to be something that students have to do. This program would greatly benefit students that come to CWU knowing what they want to do later in life. As for students who are undecided, Jungblut pointed out that there is a required special topics seminar that will help them find what they want to pursue.

However, removing random GE classes reduces the likelihood of a student randomly taking a class that leads them to their major. This is something that Jungblut herself has experience with. When she first came to college she wanted to become a physicist, but after taking a required GE political science class, she unexpectedly fell in love with the subject.

“I didn’t even know political science was a thing you could do. I didn’t even know political scientist was a thing you could be. And when I went home to tell my dad that I was going to be a political science major he said, ‘What are you going to be, a politician? Oh God, no!’ and I said ‘No no no, I can do other things as a political scientist.’”

If this new GE program was in place when Jungblut was in school, she doesn’t know if she would currently be where she is today, as Associate Provost of CWU.

Matt Altman, department chair of philosophy and religious studies, believes that this new program does not require enough diversity of colleges, and that students will have a very narrow focus.

“There not going to get the breadth of educational experience they should get in a general education program,” Altman said.

Altman believes that this program makes students less well-rounded, and that the idea is reinforced that college is only for specialized training. Altman also believes, that because students are less likely to be exposed to other disciplines, they will be less likely to change their major, and end up in a field that is not interesting to them.