The Importance of General Education in Higher Education

The Importance of General Education in Higher Education

June 1, 20182 min read

General education in the United States is the foundation of skills, knowledge, and values preparing higher education students for success in their academic careers and beyond. Typically taken at the beginning of a college career, these classes are similar to the core academic classes studied in high school and cover a variety of major academic disciplines.

An innovator in general education, Southern Utah University’s President Scott L Wyatt established the Jumpstart General Education program at SUU. President Wyatt shares his thoughts on general education as a fundamental piece of higher education in the United States.

“One of the primarily unique things about American higher education is general education. I've had a chance to see the way general education is treated around the world and the answer is, mostly, it's only an American thing.”

“This is one of the defining features of an American higher education and one of the things that we most prize. Some might call it the liberal education, some might call it the broad-based foundational education or general education, but it's what helps us understand other peoples and cultures and ideas and informs our lives. It enriches everything about us.”

President Wyatt believes whether a student is majoring in engineering, art, education, or business, they need to have a broad academic understanding, which includes topics like the arts, humanities, literature, and writing.

“General education stretches a student beyond the narrow field that she or he is studying. If you're going to be an engineer, you're going to be a better engineer if you know something about the arts and something about humanities. You're going to be a better member of democracy if you know something about history and political science. And we do that not through the engineering classes for an engineering student, but through this general education program that's the fundamental piece, the bedrock, of American higher education.”

President Wyatt is a leader in higher education specializing in creating transformative learning experiences and achieving high-quality outcomes. As the 16th president of SUU, he has led the university in student enrollment growth, launched the University of the Parks initiative, opened a new veterans center, started a center for diversity and inclusion, and overseen the construction or acquisition of more than $60 million worth of capital improvement projects.


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  • Steven Meredith
    Steven Meredith Steven Meredith Associate VP, Enrollment Management for Graduate and Online

    Specializing in graduate programs, online education, music technology, performing arts career preparation, & innovation in higher education.

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