General Education

[ Music ]>>[Background Music] In the American University
System at the very heart of it is the idea that all students will have a liberal
education and a specialized major. So if you think about what makes a
college degree, your major is 60 hours, 50 hours; it depends on the major. But the degree is 120 hours, and so you do
the major but you also do general education. And general education does two things for
you: One it gives you essential skills. We’re also giving you core foundational
knowledge; we want you to be well rounded and well informed with the right
skills to succeed in the major.>>The real purpose in my view of the university
education is to produce an educated person. An educated person is someone who can
think clearly and communicate well. But thinking clearly is not something
that you know how to do right away. You have to learn how to think. , but there’s different kinds of thinking. There’s moral thinking, there’s
scientific thinking, there’s humanistic thinking,
there’s market thinking. There’s lots of different ways to think,
and no one way of thinking is every going to completely exhaust a problem, or
one way of thinking may not get you to the best solution to a problem. So the best thing for a student to do is
to expose themselves to the widest range of disciplinary inquires, ways of
attacking your thinking about a problem.>>This is so important that
it’s being copied world-wide now.>>I believe my general education classes
have helped me become a well-rounded person, and it has helped me develop different skills
that might be useful later on in my career.>>I took classes I thought I wanted to
be a dietician, it turns out I didn’t like chemistry; I didn’t want to do it. So now I’m a public relations
major and I love it, and I think that by taking
general education classes I think that it definitely prepares
you for what you want to do. And I think that it gives
you time to think about it.>>You get deeply sad when people say get
your general education out of the way, because really general education
is a part of a college education. You cannot succeed in your major
without a good general education. It’s important to take your general
education courses in the right sequence because they are intentionally designed. There are things that you need to
know so you can learn other things. Things happen in the general education courses
that prepare you, so literally if you do things in the right order and usually if you look
at the university catalog it says 1000, 2000, 3000; there’s an order to that. So there is that preparation for success at
the higher level that’s really important.>>There is a reason why we’re a
university and not a technical school; it’s because when we have that
degree that says Utah Sate it means that we’ve taken all these classes that
form us into a learner, to a great student; that we didn’t just learn what we needed
to get our degree in that specific area, but we learned everything from
English to math to sciences. General education is so important, and I have
loved all of my general education classes and it’s made me a better
student, and a better business man.>>And one of the things that an education
should do for you is give you the capacity to enter into another person’s mind,
understand how someone else thinks who may not share the same kind
of perspective that you do, and general education effectively encourages
you, forces you, to take a wide range of classes across a wide range of colleges and disciplines
and so it enables you to know of those skills to understand arguments, understand different
perspectives, approach questions creatively and analytically in a variety of different ways.>>It actually isn’t your major that
gets you the job, but your education that gets you the job, because you’ve
got to be able to function in the world. And there’s one other thing that
American Higher ED really cares about and it’s preparing you for life as a citizen. Can you read the newspaper well enough to
know whether or not this is good science? You take things like the debate over
climate change; can you read that graph? Can you say well that sounds to me like
that’s a very strange sort of science because they’re not asking the right
questions that a scientist would ask. What the university is doing is giving
you the great blessing of a space in which you can learn how to do this, and–
but you and your family and your employer and your nation will all benefit from you if
you learn how to be a intentional learner.

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