Philosophy of General Education
The college faculty determines the scope and content of the general education requirements in the belief that students graduating with a degree from Irvine Valley College should be liberally as well as specifically educated.
The philosophy underlying a “general education” is that no discipline is an isolated endeavor; instead, each relies upon and informs a common body of knowledge, ideas, intellectual processes, cultural traditions, and modes of perception. One’s understanding of a specific subject area is greatly enhanced and enriched by knowledge in and experience with other disciplines. The well-educated student is one who is able to imagine, evaluate, and respond in a wide variety of ways and in a plurality of contexts.
The faculty expects that all students receiving degrees from the college will meet minimum standards in reading, writing, speaking, critical thinking, and mathematics and be broadly exposed to the natural and social sciences, the humanities, and the arts and languages, disciplines within which the human search for knowledge is carried out.
General Education Categories
Language and Rationality
Reading and Writing
Courses in this category enable students to write clearly and effectively, particularly for the purposes of conducting an analysis, presenting a point of view, or expressing an idea or opinion; to read critically and perceptively in a variety of fields and from a variety of texts; and to reason in a logical and coherent fashion, recognizing and avoiding common fallacies of thought.
Courses that fulfill this requirement emphasize the study of the nature, processes, and effects of human symbolic interaction, both verbal and nonverbal. These courses should provide theoretical and practical instruction in mass communication theory. They should also require that students research, outline, and deliver a platform presentation. Courses in this category should enable students to listen critically; to express a position reasonably; and to deliver an oral presentation in public, recognizing the need to adapt their delivery to reach a plurality of audiences for a variety of purposes.
Courses that fulfill this requirement are designed to provide theoretical and practical instruction in “good thinking” in a general sense. More specifically, such courses emphasize knowledge and skills that enable students to reach factual or judgmental conclusions concerning any topic without fallacy and on the basis of good reasons. Thus, students are instructed in general principles concerning the interpretation of evidence, deductive and inductive inference, and the pitfalls of language and persuasion. Critical thinking courses enable students to move beyond the passive collection of evidence or data and rather engage students in active analytical and evaluative thinking.
Courses in this category enable students to develop mathematical thinking skills, construct logical arguments, and make valid inferences. In addition to their intrinsic value, these courses also train students in quantitative skills that are essential to many other disciplines.
Courses in this category provide students with basic education in American history and its political system. Beyond this, they are designed to provide a theoretical and practical framework within which students can examine central themes associated with the development of an American historical narrative, political system, and its corresponding national institutions. Instruction in these courses emphasizes the study of historical themes, issues, and events as a method of developing critical intelligence and awareness of these forces in the formation of a national identity and value system. The skills acquired in these courses allow students to examine the extent to which these values and patterns of identity are reflected in American political structures, procedures, and institutions.
A complete education includes training in the scientific method and the fundamental principles of natural science. These principles govern our world and have generated the technologies which run society and allow us to explore the universe. An understanding of the physical and biological sciences and the methods of scientific reasoning significantly enhances a person’s ability to make political, moral, and social decisions.
Courses that fulfill this requirement should include an examination of physical and life science concepts, principles, theories, and laws. They should expose students to the methods of conducting scientific investigation in laboratory and field settings through observation; the collection, synthesis, and analysis of data; making calculations; graphing and drawing; and explaining conclusions. Finally, these courses should help students integrate the methods and concerns of the empirical sciences with technology and their applications in our daily lives.
An education must include training in the scientific/empirical method of inquiry used in the social and behavioral sciences, as well as the fundamental principles that govern these disciplines. These principles influence the processes of human interaction, human behavior, and social institutions and help to define us individually and collectively as a society. An understanding of the principles of the social and behavioral sciences, combined with critical thinking, enhances an individual’s ability to make responsible political, moral, and social decisions in the modern, everyday world.
Courses that fulfill this requirement explore the nature of individual and collective human behavior; the political, economic, social, and psychological structures/institutions of human beings; and the challenges of developing and sustaining interpersonal and intercultural relationships. These courses should provide instruction in the fundamental principles of the scientific method and the subsequent body of knowledge accumulated through its proper application-data collection, synthesis, and analysis. Such courses should encourage students to develop a healthy skepticism of “explanations” of human behavior, human interaction, and social institutions which lack rigorous examination by qualified social scientists and/or are based upon faulty scientific methodology or unclear thinking. Thus, courses that fulfill the social and behavioral sciences requirement should engage in a high level of critical thinking so that students develop the skills required to make informed political, ethical, moral, and social decisions as participants in a successful democracy.
Courses that fulfill this requirement introduce students to the methods and values of humanistic study. These courses investigate the role that philosophy, literature, history, and the arts play in the shaping of human culture and the nature of humanity. Such courses undertake a critical appraisal of the central traditions, values, ideas, and texts by means of which cultures and civilizations-both Western and Eastern-have come to be formulated. Courses in this category also evaluate the major narratives of a culture in common ideas and opinions, in the fabrication of their histories, and in the major fictional and nonfictional texts of a civilization, ancient to modern. Central to these courses is the meaning of the human condition.
Fine Arts and Languages
Courses in this category should engage students in the discovery and appreciation of the methods, value systems, processes, and products of the fine arts, including music, art, photography, speech, and theatre. These courses should develop students’ understanding of-as well as their ability to respond to-the aesthetic significance of the formal order called “beauty” and a freer order characterized by the expression of “feeling.” Courses that fulfill this requirement should enable students to examine and respond to the world as it has been represented over time and across cultures in visual, aural, tactile, and dramatic forms; to express their ideas and attitudes in an artistic medium; and to appreciate the contributions that the fine arts have made in establishing and preserving our cultural and historical traditions.
Courses in this category encourage students to be competent at communicating in a foreign language, at least at the beginning level. These courses should require that students comprehend and converse in another language as well as gain insight into the daily life and culture of the peoples whose language they are studying. Included in this category may be alternative forms of human communication- such as sign language-which provide students with a broad understanding of the process of acquiring language.
Courses that fulfill this requirement assist students in achieving a more comprehensive educational experience and cultural perspective by exposing them to historical and cultural patterns that lie outside the framework of the Western and European traditions. Students may select courses investigating non-Eurocentric cultures, such as those of Africa or Asia; one of the many cultures indigenous to the Americas; or one or more of the various ethnic groups in the United States that originated in Africa or Asia. In fulfilling this requirement, students are equipped with the requisite intellectual tools to understand and appreciate an increasingly diverse local, national, and world context; to compete effectively in the global economy; to derive stimulation and knowledge from culturally diverse perspectives; and to maintain a spirit of openness for and understanding of other cultures and lifestyles.
Lifelong Health and Personal Development
Courses in this category focus on developing the processes that contribute to successful lifelong learning, understanding, and self-development. Such courses encourage students to be attentive to the health and well-being of their minds and bodies, resourceful about managing and improving the practical circumstances of their lives, and informed of ways and means by which the individual may promote lifelong personal health and personal development. Courses that fulfill this requirement should focus on the interdependence of the physiological, social/cultural, practical, and psychological/emotional factors that contribute to an individual’s development, pose limitations, engender potential, and offer options to the individual throughout his or her life.