Judson University General Education Framework
Approved by Faculty March 2007
Why are Judson students required to take these specific general education courses? What are we trying to accomplish with our general education requirements? How do the other aspects of the Judson University experience relate to the general education program?
The following is intended to answer these and other questions by providing a clear, concise, comprehensive, and cohesive explanation of Judson University’s undergraduate general education curriculum. The hope is that this explanation will serve to guide policy and curriculum decisions, provide a framework for assessment and continuous improvement, and enable the General Education Policy Committee and the institution as a whole to promote an understanding of and vision for the general education program of the university among faculty, prospective and current students, and other stakeholders.
There are four essential characteristics that describe and shape Judson’s approach to general education: mission-driven, liberal arts based, holistic, and integrated.
As with all aspects of campus life, Judson’s mission statement provides the purpose for the general education program and describes what the institution is trying to accomplish. The Judson University mission states:
Judson is an evangelical Christian university that represents the Church at work in higher education, equipping students to be fully developed, responsible persons who glorify God by the quality of their personal relationships, their work, and their citizenship within the community, the nation and the world. Through a broadly based education in the liberal arts, sciences and professions, the university enables its students to acquire ideas and concepts that sharpen their insights, develop skills appropriate to their career goals, and develop the skills and commitment for lifelong learning. The Judson community experience challenges graduates to be decisive leaders and active participants in church and society, articulate proponents of Biblical Christianity, persuasive advocates for the sovereignty of God over all life, and effective ambassadors for Christ.
The mission of Judson University includes two overlapping areas: 1) the development of the whole person, and 2) preparation for a career. The general education program is focused primarily on the first aspect, the development of the whole person, but recognizes the role that career preparation plays in its primary goal. The mission also includes an outward orientation, development of the person for the purpose of service. Thus, our vision is to equip students for service in all aspects of life.
Liberal Arts Based
Consistent with the breadth of our mission, the general education program of Judson University is rooted in a liberal arts philosophy of education. Liberal arts education seeks to develop the student through interaction with a variety of academic disciplines as well as the development of communication and critical thinking skills.
A liberal education is essential for three reasons. First, it equips students to be effective moral agents in a world where ethical decisions must be made on a daily basis. Second, it prepares students for a lifetime of learning and instills the skills of creative thinking, problem solving, human relations and public speaking. A liberal arts curriculum creates dynamic, adaptable learners who will be successful in multiple fields of endeavor. Third, it allows students to better understand and appreciate God’s created world. God has provided his creatures with the beauties of art, music, literature, and the sciences, enabling one to glimpse God, to revel in God’s creation, to know him and enjoy him thoroughly.
Beyond providing a broader view of the world and developing practical skills, Judson seeks to nourish minds for service to Christ and His kingdom by encouraging the integration of faith, learning, and living, so that students see their intellectual pursuits as service to God and the Church. The very foundation of Christianity responds to the basic questions that a liberal arts education strives to answer: “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” “What is the purpose of life?” This Christian worldview provides a context for the information gained and knowledge gleaned, and gives that information and knowledge meaning and purpose beyond the immediacy of the context. Knowledge of God and a developing personal relationship with Jesus Christ provide an essential organizing and clarifying framework because all things can be seen and heard and understood in the context of biblical truth.
Holistic: Scholarship, Spiritual Formation, and Stewardship
In order to focus the institution’s efforts to equip students to be “fully developed, responsible persons who glorify God in their personal relationships, their work, and their citizenship” three inter-dependent areas of development have been identified. These three areas and the attendant descriptors represent Judson’s aspirations for students and the characteristics that the general education program will strive to develop in them.
Judson’s general education curriculum – building on students’ prior educational experiences – will provide the foundation for the scholarly life. It will expose the student to the major ways of looking at and understanding the world [natural sciences, mathematics, history, social sciences, biblical studies, theology, literature, art, and music], as well as giving them opportunities to develop foundational academic and life skills in a liberal arts context.
In the area of scholarship, the Judson graduate should be able to…
- Demonstrate skills in both oral and written communication. (Communication Skills)
- Demonstrate critical thinking and problem-solving skills. (Thinking Skills)
- Apply the principles of a scholarly research process. (Research)
- Examine the world through the lens of a variety of academic disciplines – natural sciences, mathematics, history, social sciences, the Bible and Christian thought, literature, art and music. (Liberal Arts)
- Demonstrate knowledge and skills in a major discipline. (Major)
Spiritual formation is the process of becoming like Christ in character, relationships, priorities, and practices. As students grow, they will increasingly demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Spiritual formation is based in an understanding of God’s Word and the Christian faith, which is then reflected in ethical thinking and behavior. This combination of knowledge and character enables the student to be an effective and persuasive ambassador for Christ. Though God is ultimately the one who transforms students, he also uses others to contribute to that process. Within Judson, various elements of campus life contribute to the process of spiritual formation. Examples include chapel services, biblical studies courses, and faculty-student mentoring.
Judson also welcomes students from other faith traditions, or from no faith tradition, and invites them to participate fully in campus life. Though they will be exposed to and expected to understand the principles and practices of the Christian faith, and to abide by the standards of our community, belief and personal commitment is not required. The hope is that students from other faith traditions will experience the love of Jesus as it is demonstrated in the campus community and begin to appreciate the contribution that Jesus and his followers can make to their lives and society as a whole.
In the area of spiritual formation, the Judson graduate should be able to…
- Articulate the essentials of the Christian faith and a Christian worldview. (Worldview)
- Develop Christ-like character as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit. (Character)
- Make ethical decisions based in a Christian worldview. (Christian Ethics)
- Read and understand the Bible in its historical context. (Biblical Literacy)
- Practice the central disciplines of the Christian tradition. (Spiritual Disciplines)
- Participate in the life of a local church. (Church)
Stewardship is the responsible use of resources in the service of God and others. This recognizes that all our resources, even life itself, are on loan from God and are to be used for His glory and purposes. It is also grounded in the example of Jesus who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Stewardship is applied in one’s own life, in one’s community, and in the world as a person seeks to be of assistance to others and to meet their needs. These resources include, but are not limited to, the following: talents, skills, health (physical, emotional and spiritual), time, money, information, relationships, communities, traditions, and cultural and natural environments.
In the area of stewardship, the Judson graduate should be able to…
- Make lifestyle choices that lead to optimal health and vitality. (Wellness)
- Make lifestyle choices that reflect a concern for the sustainability of natural resources. (Environmental Sustainability)
- Responsibly manage their time and finances from the perspective of Christian stewardship. (Resource Management)
- Identify and use their talents and skills in service to God and others. (Gifts)
- Appreciate the development, values, and limitations of their own, and other cultures. (Cultural Awareness)
- Work with others from diverse cultures and backgrounds. (Diversity)
- Work in a team and contribute to the achievement of team goals. (Teamwork)
- Participate in community service efforts and organizations. (Volunteerism)
Integrated throughout the Campus Experience
Committed to the liberal arts tradition, Judson University seeks to challenge the all-too-prevalent attitude which treats the general education curriculum as something wholly distinct and separate from the major coursework and other aspects of campus life. Within the Judson community we envision all aspects of the campus experience contributing to the achievement of the mission and the educational goals.
Core Courses– The Core Courses, sometimes called general education requirements, serve as the foundation. They begin the process of skill development and provide exposure to a broad variety of disciplines. There is also an integrative component to the Core Courses in that there is an introduction to and cultivation of a Christian worldview which influences one’s approach to all skills and academic disciplines.
Major Courses– Building on the Core Courses, the Major Courses continue the development in the four areas in relationship to one field of study. In writing for example, while the Core Courses deal with the basic and broad skills for written communication, the Major Courses enable the student to develop writing and research skills appropriate to the major discipline. Thus writing and information literacy are taught in the major as well as in the core. In the area of stewardship, professors can enable students to apply the principle within the particular discipline. In addition, Major Courses provide the opportunity to develop deeper knowledge of the major field, which complements the broader knowledge gained through the Core Courses. In these courses, students will also begin to draw connections between the major disciplines and those studied in the Core Courses.
Co-curricular Activities– Here at Judson, it is recognized that learning is not limited to the classroom. Development in the three areas also takes place through other aspects of campus life such as dorm life, chapel, student government, sports, informal interactions with faculty members, and mission/service projects, among many other elements of campus life.
Capstone Experiences– Capstone experiences serve as a transition between undergraduate studies and a career and/or graduate studies. They provide both a retrospective view, enabling the students to reflect on and integrate their coursework, as well as a future-oriented perspective, preparing for what comes next.
For the major capstone, students participate in discipline-specific culminating experiences, during which they demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their career and/or continuing education. The form of the major capstone depends on the needs of the specific discipline, but may include a senior seminar course, internship, comprehensive exams, recital, student teaching, portfolio, among other options.
For the general education capstone, there is an integrative capstone course, GEN401 The Good Life: Continuing the Conversation, during which students demonstrate an understanding of the Christian worldview and its connections with the core and major courses.Students will also learn effective life planning and decision making skills, from the perspective of a Christian worldview, which will help them prepare for the transition to the next stage of their lives.
The capstone experiences also serve an important assessment function, as students have the opportunity to demonstrate they have accomplished the learning outcomes for their major and the educational goals of the university.