As Director of the General Education (an official title), I’ve spent a lot of intentional, conversational, and even passive time thinking about our newest general education (Ethos) and what we could have done better and what we could be doing better.


A budget should be a mandatory part of building a new general education. Are you going to hire someone, internal or external, to direct the general education? Are you going to hire an external consultant? Are you going to build in professional development for the faculty? Are you going to purchase a contract for software (LMS plugins, portfolio, etc.)? Basically, if you need money, the annual budgeting cycle requires knowledge of that money up front and so the development group needs to plan for it.

Keep It Simple

If the design of the general education is complex, hard to communicate, and challenging to understand, then it could be too much. Remember, faculty have to be able to advise students based upon the description; remember, students have to be able to figure this out; remember, someone will have to document assessment for accreditation purposes.

As faculty–those who are often left to design the general education–we often dream big. We build research plans for years in the future and theorize/postulate what could happen with giddiness only found in the academy. We also tend to work alone, rather independently, but rarely think about how things will be implemented at the institutional scale.

Spell. It. Out.

There’s no way that a group of people can foresee every sticky situation that could arise just one year into the future, never mind 10 years. However, what plans there may be should be clear and transparent. We tend to use academic vernacular but those who will read (including the registrar, financial aid, etc.) are often not academics. Coaches and administrative assistants often function as advisors to many students but rarely are academics.

How can this clarification be obtained? All the stakeholders should get a chance to read the plan and offer commentary. That commentary should be considered and included as part of the revision process.


The group who developed our general education did an excellent job outlining implementation plans, requirements, and even the assessment cycles. This has made continued operation of this new general education much easier.

Unfortunately, money, simplicity, and clarity are not entirely in the control of the group developing a general education. Restraints are often placed on those developing the new general education (budgets, credit hours, etc.) and, in order to balance all needs/demands, clarity and simplicity can be lost most easily.

For those of you developing and implementing a new general education, I wish you the best of successes. This is not an easy task but the end results are worthwhile.

Implementing a New General Education

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