Aims of General Education

[Approved by Faculty in November 14, 2002, and through the GERC Amendment Process in 2003-2004 and 2013-2014]

Derived from the learning goals of Being and Becoming and the Great Commitments, the Aims listed below identify the common expectations for all students, which can be met in a variety of ways, including courses, co-curricular activities, residential life programs and experiences, convocations, and labor. These aims outline the specific knowledge, skills, and qualities of mind we would like to see all students develop, and they suggest certain kinds of experience that will enable that development. Thus, Berea College’s educational program is designed to provide students with opportunities and experiences that will allow them to achieve these Aims.

Knowledge: the General Education program will help students understand:

  1. aesthetic, scientific, historical, and interdisciplinary ways of knowing;
  2. religion, particularly Christianity, in its many expressions;
  3. Berea College’s historical and ongoing commitments to racial (traditionally black and white) and gender equality, as well as to the Appalachian region;
  4. the natural environment and our relationship to it;
  5. the roles of science and technology in the contemporary world;
  6. U.S. and global issues and perspectives.

Skills: the General Education program will help students develop the abilities to:

  1. read and listen effectively; write and speak effectively, with integrity and style;
  2. think critically and creatively, and reason quantitatively;
  3. develop research strategies and employ appropriate technologies as means to deepen one’s knowledge and understanding;
  4. work effectively both independently and collaboratively;
  5. resolve conflicts nonviolently.

Habits of Mind: the General Education program will help students:

  1. deepen their capacities for moral reflection, spiritual development, and responsible action;
  2. develop an openness to and knowledgeable appreciation of human diversity, in terms of race, gender, class, religion, sexuality, language, and culture;
  3. cultivate their imagination and ability to discern connections, consider alternatives, and think about topics and issues from multiple perspectives;
  4. think and act in ways that promote peace with justice;
  5. develop habits leading to lifetime health and fitness.

The above Aims of General Education will be achieved through a combination of learning experiences designed to help students become independent learners and thinkers. Such learning experiences are likely to include:

  1. Discussion and lecture;
  2. Student-initiated learning;
  3. Experiential learning (for example, service-learning, travel, internships, etc.);
  4. Collaborative learning.

Core Competencies

To determine the extent to which students have attained the Aims of General Education, Berea College will regularly assess student achievement in five areas:

  1. Critical Thinking: Students will use sound reasoning and strong evidence when drawing conclusions or constructing arguments. 
  2. Communication: Students will express, develop, and support ideas with awareness of purpose and context.
  3. Research and Information Literacy: Students will locate, evaluate, and accurately cite sources that are appropriate to the goals of their research.
  4. Quantitative Literacy: Students will accurately interpret mathematical information and incorporate relevant quantitative evidence in their work.
  5. Intercultural Competence: Students will accurately and respectfully express or relate the complex interplay of history and experiences that shape the values of diverse communities.