The significance of a university degree is that the graduate possesses certain valuable and important characteristics that transcend any particular major or professional training. Shawnee State University’s General Education Program (GEP), which all graduates must complete, is designed to enhance the various major courses of study in order to ensure that every graduate is a well-educated person.

Well-educated people are guided by a spirit of inquiry; they are independent learners, broadly learned and capable of seeking out and understanding new information; they are creative and careful thinkers and communicators; and they are able to take a historical, global, and ethical perspective, which helps them to imagine and pursue change. Most importantly, well-educated people are able to recognize the interconnectivity of ideas from a variety of disciplines. They are also able to balance varying disciplinary perspectives and remain comfortable with ambiguity.

The following represents a detailed description of a well-educated person.

View GEP Requirements in Academic Catalog

Cluster One: Critical Thinking and Communication Competencies

1.1 Critical thought. The ability to think independently, logically, and creatively.

Graduates will:
  1. Identify theses and conclusions, supporting evidence and arguments, and stated and unstated assumptions;
  2. Evaluate evidence and arguments;
  3. Synthesize multiple perspectives on a given topic or issue.
  4. Generate their own hypotheses, arguments, and positions.

1.2 Written communication.

Graduates will:
  1. Understand the rhetorical situation: the relationship between writer, audience, and text;
  2. Adapt written communication to different audiences (within and beyond one’s own discipline), contexts, and media;
  3. Incorporate research from primary and secondary sources into their writing;
  4. Employ a flexible writing process that involves multiple drafts and revisions;
  5. Provide meaningful feedback to other writers and incorporate feedback from others;
  6. Employ academic and ordinary language conventions for writing, including genre, style, diction, organization, citation, grammar and syntax.

1.3 Oral and interpersonal communication.

Graduates will:
  1. Deliver effective oral presentations in a variety of contexts;
  2. Exchange ideas, arguments, and constructive criticism in productive ways;
  3. Cooperate in a variety of interpersonal settings.

1.4 Information literacy.

Graduates will:
  1. Recognize a need for information;
  2. Recognize the various formats through which information is conveyed;
  3. Locate information using a variety of sources;
  4. Evaluate the reliability, accuracy, and appropriateness of information;
  5. Integrate primary and secondary research into their own arguments.

Cluster Two: Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts

2.1 Interpretation.

Graduates will:
  1. Recognize the interrelationship between literary, visual, and performing works of art and their cultural and historical context;
  2. Apply disciplinary techniques and theories in order to interpret literary, visual and performing works of art;
  3. Articulate how the literary, visual, and performing arts both reflect and shape the human experience.

2.2 Aesthetics.

Graduates will:
  1. Explore how the literary, visual, and performing arts shape collective and individual identity and enhance human life;
  2. Appreciate the formal and intrinsic qualities of literary, visual, and performing arts.

Cluster Three: Natural World Inquiry

3.1 Scientific reasoning.

Graduates will:
  1. Apply the scientific method;
  2. Evaluate scientific claims, hypotheses, and theories.

3.2 Quantitative reasoning.

Graduates will:
  1. Interpret a variety of mathematical models;
  2. Represent mathematical information in a variety of ways;
  3. Employ mathematical and statistical methods to solve conceptual and applied problems.

Cluster Four: Historical and Cultural Inquiry

4.1 Engaged citizenry.

Graduates will:
  1. Understand American history, politics, and culture;
  2. Evaluate primary sources influential to American history, politics, and culture;
  3. Analyze America’s role in global history, politics, and culture.

4.2 Historical perspectives.

Graduates will:
  1. Describe ideas and movements central to the development of multiple cultures;
  2. Analyze how these ideas develop across time and major cultural shifts;
  3. Apply the resultant historical and cultural understanding to the contemporary world.

4.3 Contemporary global perspectives.

Graduates will:
  1. Understand the complex connections of a modern global society;
  2. Understand the ideas and movements that shape multiple civilizations, and how they affect the way cultures view and engage one another;
  3. Appreciate how ideas and movements are influenced by culture and how they influence cultures’ views of each other.

4.4 Technological literacy.

Graduates will:
  1. Understand the nature of technology and its relationship with engineering and science;
  2. Understand the interrelationship of technology and society;
  3. Apply critical thinking in the application of technology to the solution of problems.

Cluster Five: Human Nature and Flourishing

5.1 Ethical insight and reasoning.

Graduates will:
  1. Analyze classical and contemporary ethical theories (attempts to understand the nature of the good and what makes an action ethical);
  2. Apply those theories to a variety of contemporary ethical issues;
  3. Defend rationally their own answers to ethical questions in the context of open and civil dialogue with others;
  4. Evaluate the relationship between ethics and civic life.

5.2 Human behavior.

Graduates will:
  1. Analyze various specific factors that affect individual and group behavior and flourishing;
  2. Understand theoretical and scientific explanations of social, behavioral, or cognitive processes;
  3. Contrast various methods of understanding the origins of human behavior.

The GEP consist of ten categories. For essential learning outcomes (ELO) in bold type below a course in a particular category needs to address all subcomponents of the ELO. ELOs not in bold would only require the course address only some subcomponents.




English Composition


1.1, 1.2, 1.4

Oral Communication


1.1, 1.3



1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2

Fine Arts


1.1, 2.1, 2.2

Natural Sciences


1.1, 3.1

Quantitative Reasoning


1.1, 3.2, 4.4c

Engaged Citizenry


1.1, 4.1

Global Perspectives


1.1, 1.4, 4.3, 4.4a&b

Historical Perspectives


1.1, 1.4, 4.2,

Ethical insight and reasoning


1.1, 1.2, 5.1

Human Behavior


1.1, 1.4, 5.2


Capstone courses must meet at least one criterion under the Critical Thought (1.1) and Oral and Interpersonal Communication (1.3) learning outcomes listed above. They must also meet at least four of the criteria under the Written Communication (1.2) learning outcomes listed above. Capstone courses must contain both a written paper/report and an oral presentation.

Individual majors are encouraged to develop their own capstone course. IDST 4490 can be used as the capstone for majors that do not have an individualized capstone course.

Writing Intensive

Students must take at least two courses that are flagged as Writing Intensive as part of their experience. Writing Intensive courses can be double counted with the GEP, or can be courses that are outside the GEP. Writing Intensive courses must contain at least 3000 words of total writing, of this at least 2000 words must be academically-sources, formal writing. This may reflect multiple assignments within a course. Students in Writing Intensive courses should receive feedback on their writing early enough to allow for alterations and revisions of their written work on future assignments.