The Common Curriculum


Full text of the Gen Ed proposal, approved by the faculty in Spring, 2005

Transmittal letter from the AAC to the faculty

The proposal...

Section I: The Curriculum

A. Core

B. Distribution Requirements

C. Making Connections Across Disciplines (Clusters)

Section II: Explanation and Discussion

Section III: Possible Consequences on Departments, Programs and Staffing


  • Double Counting
  • Gen Ed Implementation, Designations and Worksheet
  • Cluster ideas / examples

Revisions to the Faculty Manual Section IV to aid in implementing the new General Education Program


General Education at Union for the 21st Century

Union College can take considerable pride in the serious attention it has always given to graduation requirements beyond the major. And our faculty should be commended for always taking our General Education program as seriously as we do our departments and majors. We debate it, we disagree about it, and we regularly revise it – but no one at Union argues that a “liberal arts education” stops with a major. The College has long recognized that preparing bright minds for leadership roles in the generations to come requires more than disciplinary knowledge in a major. Whether it has been called “Comprehensive Education”, “Liberal Learning”, or “General Education” at Union, for the past fifty years we have explicitly maintained a continued dedication to what has been defined as “a philosophy of education that empowers individuals, liberates the mind from ignorance, and cultivates social responsibility.”[*]

During 2004-05, Union College and its faculty have reached another juncture in our commitment to General Education. With a tenure-track faculty that is 40% newly appointed in the past decade, with a current Gen Ed program that has been in place for over 15 years, and with a rapidly changing global context, the time has come update our Gen Ed program.

The AAC has unanimously endorsed and approved the proposal given to us by the General Education Revision Sub-council. We encourage you to read carefully the statement written by Prof. Brison for the sub-council to the AAC as they transmitted their report to us. We believe that this proposal will benefit students in three principal ways: (1) they will be empowered to act effectively in our common future; (2) they will be liberated from preconception and narrowness; and (3) they will understand the increasing inter-connectedness of the world.

The General Education Revision Sub-council spent more than a year in developing its set of recommendations, and we wish to thank them for their efforts. Their proposals make use of existing College resources without requiring more, open the door to fuller faculty participation in Gen Ed, and draw on the interests and training of new faculty colleagues. Above all, the proposal of the Gen Ed sub-council constitutes an endorsement of the importance of General Education in undergraduate education. We again affirm what is centrally important about a liberal arts college education.

Academic Affairs Committee

Approved, March 31, 2005

Page 18 revised on April 21, 2005

Last modified 01/9/06 by J. D. Klein