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Why are General Education courses important?

General Education courses will help you gain cross-disciplinary skills, such as communication and problem-solving, that will help you succeed in your career.
Pacific’s General Education courses will help you gain cross-disciplinary skills, such as communication and problem-solving, that will help you succeed in your career.

By Nicholas McConnell, Academic Assessment Director and Chris Goff, General Education Director and Professor of Mathematics 

A pharmacist applies knowledge in chemistry and biology to develop safe and effective medication regimens, and also must understand how to navigate health care systems ethically.  An engineer designs structures and systems and must communicate effectively with their team. A singer develops fine-tuned mastery of her voice and also needs to truthfully convey the social contexts of songs she performs.  

While each of Pacific’s majors and programs prepares you with a deep knowledge and skill base you will use professionally, we also recognize the critical professional value of cross-disciplinary skills, such as communication and complex problem-solving. At Pacific, you’ll develop these skills through a combination of courses in your major and courses in our General Education (GE) program. 

Why General Education? 

Many students question why universities require GE courses, but don’t realize that GE courses will contribute to their lifelong success just as much as courses where they master specific professional knowledge.  

How? Employers are seeking individuals who can use a broad array of skills and viewpoints to problem-solve independently and grow into leadership roles. The world’s most urgent problems are too complex to solve using a single discipline or branch of knowledge. That’s why GE courses at Pacific are designed to cross disciplinary boundaries and address real-life issues.  

General Education at Pacific 

All first-year students take the CORE 001 GE course in their first semester at Pacific. In CORE 001, you’ll spend a semester analyzing and creatively exploring a complex issue, such as human migration or free speech in a world of divided opinions.  

Throughout the semester, you will complete assignments and group projects that build your competence in three major learning areas: problem-solving, information literacy and small-group communication. To analyze and address the topic of your CORE 001 section, you’ll consider several distinct perspectives in addition to your own. CORE 001 will help you develop the kinds of self-directed and collaborative skills you will need in your further studies and eventually in your career.  

For example, in history professor Laura Gutierrez’s section of CORE 001, students focused on California’s Central Valley and the complex interactions between health, the environment and the needs of agribusiness.  Professor Gutierrez also incorporated Wikipedia Classroom into her curriculum, so instead of writing normal research papers, students published articles online.   

Through the course, students learned how to create and edit Wikipedia pages collaboratively, find and cite relevant high-quality research, and raise awareness of their research topic—all of which are skills that will make them competitive candidates when applying for jobs. 

How to navigate your GE classes 

If you’re worried about achieving success in your GE classes, it’s important to recognize that GE courses are designed for students from any major—and that any student can ultimately succeed in them, even if the course content or ways of thinking initially seem unfamiliar.  

When you navigate and overcome the initial challenge you experience around a new topic, you’ll build resilience for the challenges you’ll face as a professional including workforce needs that will shift multiple times over your career. Remember, unexpected challenges present opportunities for growth! 

If you have questions about when to take GE courses or how to balance them with your major requirements, reach out to your academic adviser. If you’re curious about Pacific’s GE areas and learning outcomes, you can learn more on the General Education page on Pacific’s website. 


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