Posted August 21, 2008

Bold new GenEd program debuts

After five years of planning and preparation, Temple's new program for General Education — a required curriculum for all new bachelor's degree candidates at the university — debuts when classes start on Sept. 2.

Commonly known as GenEd, the program replaces Temple's 22-year-old core curriculum, which was last modified in the 1990s. Nearly 700 sections of GenEd courses will be offered this fall, with a total of more than 20,000 seats.

GenEd is designed to provide engaged, interdisciplinary learning and to help Temple students develop a set of basic literacies. To complete the curriculum, students must take 11 courses in nine areas: one course each in analytical reading and writing, arts, human behavior, race and diversity, quantitative literacy, U.S. society, and world society, as well as two science and technology courses and two Mosaic Humanities seminars (discussion-based courses that explore primary texts in great world cultural and intellectual traditions).

According to the General Education Executive Committee (GEEC), the group of faculty and students that oversees GenEd, the new program is at the cutting edge of general education reform nationwide.

"GenEd focuses not just on what we want students to know but on how we teach," said Terry Halbert, director of GenEd, chair of GEEC and professor of legal studies in the Fox School of Business. "We’ve looked at best practices, asking ourselves what works, or what could work better. During the past year, we’ve had a chance to test more than 60 pilot GenEd courses, allowing us to experiment with collaborative learning, interdisciplinary learning and experiential learning techniques.”

One of GenEd’s most innovative features is “The Philadelphia Experience,” an official theme of the program offering students unprecedented opportunities to explore Philadelphia and integrate the city and the region into their coursework (see sidebar). Nearly half of GenEd courses will take students out of the classroom and into the Philadelphia metropolitan area to visit museums, work in schools, attend arts performances, investigate non-profits, observe battle re-enactments, photograph murals, study the engineering of bridges, visit community gardens and more.

GenEd’s other official themes are “Community Based Learning,” “Sustainability” and “Globalization.” Workshops related to these themes and a special GenEd launch celebration is planned for later this semester.

Halbert praised the hard work of the many Temple faculty members, students, advisors and administrators throughout the university who participated in GenEd committees.

“I’m in awe of the effectiveness and the scale of this intensely collaborative enterprise,” Halbert said. “It demonstrates the strong commitment everyone has to our students.”

Halbert announced that the university will back that commitment by providing nearly $5.5 million for GenEd this academic year. Some of the funding will ease transition from the core curriculum; the rest will be available for developing GenEd in the future.

For more information about GenEd, go to