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Florida Gulf Coast University

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General Education Program

Statement from the Director of General Education



Fall 2014

Dear Colleagues and Students,

 As I review my remarks to the campus community in the fall of 2012 (below), I am struck by how far we have come in the last two years.  We began that academic year in a state of shock and anxiety in response to the legislatively mandated changes to General Education in the state of Florida.  There were many unanswered questions as well as apprehension about making any changes beyond those being required.  

 In the collaborative and innovative spirit that established this unique institution, we came together in conversations about General Education that were almost always exciting and sometimes difficult.  We committed energy, time, and resources to attending multiple meetings and campus town halls, completing online surveys, reviewing myriad drafts of each piece of the General Education Program, and sharing ideas in hallways, at Starbucks, over email, and on Angel/Canvas.

We seized the opportunity provided to us by the mandated changes to develop a General Education Program (GEP) that we should be eager to launch in the fall of 2015.  In brief:

  • The revised GEP will not only meet the minimum legislative requirement to accept all of the “state core” courses for transfer students, but we will also offer all of these courses, even those that are not currently in our catalog.  Faculty from across the university have been developing these courses over the last year, in anticipation of the new GEP.
  • The revised GEP underscores our university mission with a renewed emphasis on academic success, engaged citizenship, and lifelong learning through a revised mission and (new) statement of purpose. 
  • The revised GEP will focus on both the breadth of subject areas emphasized in the classical liberal education tradition (Arts & Humanities, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Composition/Writing) as well as practical and intellectual skills that our students need to be competitive in the complex, global marketplace (Written Communication, Quantitative Reasoning, and Critical Thinking). 
  • The revised GEP features a more intentional emphasis on diversity, understanding of worldviews, cultural differences, global issues, and the relationships between local and global natural and social environments via the Civic Identity competency. 
  • The revised GEP has resulted in a newly formed Competency Assessment Advisory Team, with faculty representation from all of the subject areas in the GEP.  This team was formed to provide additional faculty leadership in the GEP related to the development of the GEP competencies and the forthcoming five-year assessment plan.

We achieved these changes via a transparent, inclusive, and collaborative process.  This may have taken longer than we anticipated, and longer than some of our partner state institutions, but the result is something that we can be proud of and that many of you contributed to in different ways.  The resulting GEP does indeed reflect our values as an institution as well as our visionary capacity.  I have been deeply privileged to provide leadership, alongside the General Education Council Chair and faculty members, during this process.

 This academic year we will focus on finalizing all of the components of the program, and developing an assessment plan for the GEP that will be faculty-driven, comprehensive, and that mirrors best practices.

While we must continue working on a few “loose ends” related to the revision process, it is important for us to take some time to reflect on this monumental task that was set before us two years ago, acknowledge the work we have done together, and revel in excitement about the unfolding of a new dawn in General Education at FGCU. 


Kris De Welde 

Director of General Education 

Associate Professor of Sociology



Fall 2012

Greetings Colleagues and Students,

FGCU is a unique institution in many ways.  From our focus on service learning to having sustainability as part of our DNA (as President Bradshaw would say), we stand out within the state of Florida and nationally as a distinctive institution.  The changes to our general education curriculum, being mandated by the state legislature, should be seen as an opportunity for us to extend our distinctiveness into our core curriculum.

There are several ways in which I see this as an opportunity, despite the limitations imposed on us from the state, which is reducing our general education requirements from 36 hours to 30 hours, and determining 15 of those hours.

First, revising our general education program (GEP) provides us with an occasion to foster greater flexibility and integration into the curriculum.  We can develop a coherent, student-centered curriculum that is consistent with national and contemporary thinking about what students should experience in their general education program.

For example, our curriculum can focus on helping prepare students for the challenges they face in today’s rapidly changing, dynamic, and global century by focusing on skill sets and targeted outcomes as opposed to a prescribed list of courses developed, taught, and assessed in silos.  

Second, these revisions are an opportunity to revitalize our teaching in the GEP (and beyond) by focusing our approach to teaching and learning in new ways.  By exploring new frameworks for our GEP, we are compelled to reconsider the kinds of experiences students can and should have in our classroom settings and in the experiences derived from those settings.

Third, our revision process will be transparent, inclusive, and collaborative.  One key strength of FGCU is its innovative and committed faculty.  Coming together in dialogue about how to develop a signature core program can allow us to view general education differently.  We can develop a curriculum in which we are all invested, and feel proud to participate in and share with our students.

Fourth, we can use this as an opportunity to improve our GEP, which would allow us to both model national, contemporary thinking about general education, and align the General Education Program more closely with our guiding principles.  Our guiding principles include an emphasis on diversity, service to the local community, technological literacy, environmental consciousness, connected, collaborative, and interdisciplinary learning and engaged citizens.

To be sure, the process of revising our GEP will include difficult choices and challenging conversations.  It is my hope that the process will also result in strategic choices that reflect our values as an institution, and our visionary capacity as a diverse, dedicated, and thoughtful campus community.

In the coming months, this website will serve as a portal for information about this process and will be updated regularly.  However, in the spirit of transparency and inclusivity, I encourage anyone to contact me directly with questions, concerns, or ideas as we move forward.  I am honored to guide us through this process, and I am confident that our general education program will emerge as yet another distinctive feature of this remarkable institution.


Kris De Welde, Ph.D.

Director of General Education

Associate Professor of Sociology