What is General Education?

The heart of the undergraduate experience.

From the sciences to the humanities, General Education at Penn State is the cornerstone for preparing students to live and work in our diverse global society.

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Why are we doing this?

Why are we doing this?

General Education has long been recognized as a critical component of Penn State’s mission of research, teaching and service. Its central role in shaping the lives of our undergraduates was reiterated in the 2009-10 Strategic Plan, which called for a comprehensive review and re-evaluation of the goals and requirements of General Education at Penn State. At a national level, higher education faces the pressures of increasing tuition and decreasing public funding, and the potential for transformation by newly emerging technologies.

Responding to these challenges as opportunities, we seek to make substantive changes to our undergraduate curricula that will elevate the academic quality of a Penn State education. With the national call for accountability and affordability in higher education, and the need to ensure that credit hours and tuition dollars fulfill the promised goals of an undergraduate degree, we must ensure our GenEd requirements are not only worthy of the significant place they occupy in the curriculum, but that they also prepare our graduates to thrive in increasingly competitive global contexts.

We envision a distinctive, Penn State General Education curriculum that embraces intellectual inquiry, diversity, and excellence, and as we draft a proposal for the Faculty Senate’s consideration we seek robust constructive engagement with Senators and other stakeholders.

Building On Great Foundations

Working together with input from the entire University community, we intend to develop a revised General Education curriculum that is rigorous, compelling, and relevant to the changing world into which students will graduate.

A graphic representation of relevance


Making General Education relevant to a 21st Century world.

Research icon


Integrating the research endeavor into the General Education curriculum.



Making General Education at Penn State more rigorous.

How are we doing this?

How are we doing this?

There are a number of questions that we need to explore and around which we will solicit broad input from the Senate and University community. Some of the issues to be discussed include questions like: What ought to be the basic structure of the GenEd curriculum?
Should it continue to require the traditional skills and knowledge domains, and if so, how? How ought upper level courses be integrated into the GenEd curriculum? Should Penn State create a General Education Faculty? We’ve created this space to invite your ideas, thoughts and feedback.


This is a website for engaging discussion.

This website was designed to engage you in vibrant discussion about General Education at Penn State. The process we are undertaking here is difficult, often frustrating, and sometimes messy — but that is because we are trying to engage the university community in a substantive way about an issue that is central to the educational mission about which we all care deeply.

What is the greatest challenge facing GenEd in the next decade?

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Meet the Folks Leading the Change

Meet the people who are leading the transformation and evolution of General Education at Penn State. Discover why Gen Ed matters to them.


Christopher Long

Husband, Father, Professor of Philosophy and Classics, Associate Dean

“General Education enables students to expand their horizons beyond a narrow discipline, to see the world in more nuanced and textured ways, and to craft meaningful lives for themselves and others.”

Learn more about his interest in the educational use of social media technologies at www.cplong.org, and follow him on twitter at @deancplong.


Anne Hoag

Associate Professor of Communications, University Park

“I want Penn State graduates to enter the next phase of their lives with the knowledge, skills and values for citizenship.”

You can find Professor Hoag on LinkedIn, and follow her on twitter at @annehoag.


Philip Nash

Associate Professor of Liberal Arts, Shenango

“Because here at the UNIVERSE-ity, we educate the whole person, and help you discover interests you didn’t even know you had.”


Andy Lau

Associate Professor of Engineering Design, University Park

“It contributes to being a well-rounded person, and often leads to interests and knowledge that is important in life. I got fascinated with Buddhism when I was an undergrad at Penn State and took 9 credits in that area. I also discovered live theater and learned several sports that I play today. I’m a better person thanks to GenEd experiences.”