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California State University Retools General Education Courses
to Focus on Core Values of Liberal Education

Emphasis to be on broadening studentsí disciplinary exposure, critical and analytic skills

(July 1, 2008) – In an effort to enhance student learning, the California State University had established new guidelines for general education requirements that provide broad exposure to many disciplines and focus on crucial skill sets needed for the global economy.  CSU’s faculty and administrators have relied in part on the Liberal Education and American Promise (LEAP) campaign, an initiative of the Association of American Colleges and Universities to develop the new guidelines.  Each CSU campus will organize its general education requirements around four main categories of student learning outcomes:    

  • Knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world that would include study in history, the humanities, and the natural, social and behavioral sciences;
  • Intellectual and practical skills that help students think clearly and logically, write and speak effectively, as well as to use quantitative reasoning skills to solve problems;
  • Personal and social responsibility including knowledge of issues confronting local or global communities, life skills such as intercultural competency, financial literacy, and engagement in lifelong learning and self-development, and
  • Integrative learning where students combine what they learn across different courses and areas to gain a “big picture” of the world.

“Incorporating the LEAP framework into our general education curriculum should help students to more clearly focus on the skills, abilities, and attitudes necessary not only for success in the classroom, but also in their careers, as they engage in lifelong learning, and as they become community leaders,” said John Tarjan, chair of the Academic Senate CSU and former chair of the system’s General Education Advisory Committee.  “The current structure of our general education program, which provides students with an exposure to the physical and life sciences, the social sciences and the arts and humanities, is largely unchanged.  What has changed is an increasing expectation that we emphasize not only what students know but how they analyze, communicate and integrate knowledge.” 

Using the framework of the learning outcomes, each CSU campus will be able to design its general education courses to help students achieve the LEAP outcomes. This will result in greater consistency in course assessment and measures of student learning. 


The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 450,000 students and 46,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded nearly 2.5 million degrees, about 90,000 annually. Its mission is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See

Last Update: July 01, 2008
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