hope college General Education    
hope college > academic departments > gen ed        

The General Education Program <
Virtues of Public Discourse <
Off Campus Programs <
Who Should I Ask About.. <
Purposes of General Education <
Resources for Faculty <

General Education Resources for Faculty

A Summary of General Education at Hope College

Hope’s General Education program (“Gen Ed” or “the core”) aims at integration and coherence, beginning with a First Year Seminar and culminating in a capstone interdisciplinary Senior Seminar.  The curriculum between these “bookend” seminars balances flexibility and purposefulness—providing guidance but allowing for personal choice. Gen Ed should not be viewed as a list of requirements to be “gotten out of the way” or “checked off.”  Rather, students should be encouraged to choose from among the courses that fulfill each segment of the Gen Ed array by asking such questions as “What am I curious about?” “Where are the gaps in my knowledge?” “What fascinates me?” “What areas do I want to test out as possible fields of concentration?” “What would complement or enhance areas of concentration that I’ve already identified?” “Will this course help me explore my calling in life?” The goal of Gen Ed is to provide all students, no matter what their major, with the knowledge and attitudes needed to solve unscripted problems as citizens, workers, travelers, parents, leaders, church members, volunteers and participants in the arts.  Gen Ed is the core, and the foundation and scaffolding, of Hope’s liberal arts education.

Any brief description of the pattern of course offerings that fulfill Gen Ed will only be able to highlight certain aspects. Like many General Education programs, Hope College’s Gen Ed assumes that all students should acquire familiarity with the varied ways of knowing represented by the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.  Much more about that is contained in the fuller and more detailed descriptions of the curriculum contained in “The Degree Program” section of the Hope College Catalog.  The brief summary here is structured by the “attribute” designators in the electronic search system of Hope’s Registrar’s Office.  An easy way to get a sense of the list of courses that fulfill each subcategory is to highlight the appropriate attribute in the electronic schedule and check the “Show all subjects with selected attribute” box.  Some of these categories carry special mandates for helping students acquire skills of college-level learning.  These are in bold within the brief descriptions that follow.
FYS (2 credits) The First Year Seminar provides students an intellectual transition to Hope College. The focus is on active, college-level learning in the liberal arts. Students enhance their skills in the reading of primary texts, reflective writings, small group discussion and oral presentations. Students are also introduced to college-level library research resources. Teachers of these seminars serve as academic advisors to the students in their classes.

EW (4 credits) Expository Writing develops students’ ability to reflect critically and logically and express their views clearly and concisely in writing.  Students are also given further introduction to college-level library research resources.

HD (2 credits) Health Dynamics helps students understand principles of exercise, nutrition and stress management and to establish habits that maintain good health and fitness.

RL1 (2 credits) These introductory Religious Studies courses use topics to introduce students to the academic study of religion as part of the liberal arts. Students also begin to acquire a college-level understanding of the historic Christian faith.  

RL2 (4 credits) These 200-level courses build on the foundation of RL1 courses and include writing instruction.  Both RL courses emphasize reading with understanding and critical thinking.

Hope has a 10-credit Math/Science requirement, consisting of MA1, MA2, NSL and NS2 courses.  Students majoring in science disciplines fulfill this requirement in patterns that are dictated by their respective disciplines.  Non-science majors often fulfill this requirement, in whole or in part, by taking interdisciplinary General Education Math/Science (GEMS) courses.  All students should be exposed both to mathematics and to at least two different science disciplines, either in interdisciplinary contexts or by taking appropriate combinations of disciplinary courses.  All students must take at least one course with a laboratory component (NSL).  Courses that fulfill this requirement utilize mathematical thinking and critical thinking.  NS2 courses are topical 2-credit courses that need not include a laboratory experience but do include writing instruction.

FL2 (at least 4 credits) The minimal requirement for Second (Foreign) Language is first-year college-level competency or one course beyond the student’s second-language competence at college entrance. Basic conversational competency in a second language contributes to cross-cultural competency and understanding and contributes to student’s ability to live in a changing, global world.

FA1 (4 credits) Fine Arts I courses help students understand the nature, cultural significance and importance of the arts to human life.  They contribute to the skills of listening to and/or viewing performances and works of art with understanding.

FA2 (2 credits) Fine Arts II courses allow students to deepen their understanding of the arts through participating in the creative process in studio or performance courses.

Hope has a 6-credit Social Science requirement consisting of S1A/S1B/S2A/S2B courses.  These courses help students deepen their understanding of social groups and institutions as well as empirical and non-empirical approaches to studying human nature and behavior.  Many of these courses apply mathematical thinking as a tool in understanding human behavior and groups. S2A/S2B courses also include writing instruction.

CH1/CH2 (8 credits) Cultural Heritage courses help students reflect on the riches and challenges of their literary, philosophical and historical legacies.  CH courses help students enhance their skills in reading difficult texts with understanding, in writing and in critical thinking.

CD2/CD4 (4 credits) Cultural-Diversity-flagged courses throughout Hope’s curriculum help enhance students’ cross-cultural competency by helping students cultivate understanding and respect for cultures other their own.

SRS (4 credits) Senior Seminars are interdisciplinary, topical courses that deliberately raise fundamental human questions and help students reflect about how their choices matter to their own future and to their service to others.  Students discuss how Christianity can inform a philosophy for living and formulate their own views in a culminating life view paper.

You can help your students understand the point and purpose of a liberal arts education. They value knowing how the courses you teach within Gen Ed are designed to reach both specific and general Gen Ed goals. Include this information in your syllabus. Remind students often throughout the semester of the skills they are developing through the course. Also consider asking students in a midterm course assessment to evaluate their growth in course-relevant knowledge and skills.