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General Education: JMU's Core Curriculum

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General Education Cluster Requirements

General Education requirements are organized by clusters; each cluster has a specific theme and learning objectives. Students must fulfill all requirements in each individual cluster.

For more information, please visit the General Education site for each cluster:



Cluster One: Skills for the 21st Century

Cluster One brings together the basic skills in reasoning, writing, and oral communication. Since ancient times, these skills have been recognized as the fundamental skills of educated persons and responsible citizens. Cluster One specifically emphasizes the critical knowledge and skills that students learn through the study of human discourse, argumentation, reasoning, and persuasion. As students examine issues they gain insight and understanding that knowledge rarely develops in isolation but within a larger interactive, and often complex, context. Cluster One also responds to the contemporary need for effective information literacy within diverse contexts of human communication and decision making.

Students have the option of receiving credit for GCOM 121 by taking advantage of the Credit by Examination option. This is an alternative to enrolling and successfully completing the course.

For more information, visit the Cluster One website: Cluster One

Cluster Two: Arts and Humanities

Cluster Two shows students what it means to live lives enriched by reflection, imagination, and creativity.  It does so by offering each individual a multidisciplinary experience within the arts and humanities, those areas of endeavor that humans have long valued for their intrinsic worth and that invite a deeper appreciation of the human experience.

The broadly stated goals for Cluster Two are:

  • To introduce students to cultural, historical, aesthetic, and theoretical expressions of and questions about human experience.
  • To expose students to multiple academic disciplines in the arts and humanities and their methods and unique perspectives.
  • To inspire a deeper awareness of how the interplay between culture and expression affects both collective and individual identities.
  • To foster appreciation of the aesthetic and formal qualities of literary, visual, and performing arts.
  • To engage students in thinking critically and communicating clearly about enduring questions concerning human life, culture, and history.

These goals were adopted by the General Education Council in April 2007

For more information, visit the Cluster Two website: Cluster Two

Cluster Three: The Natural World

Scientific investigations into the natural world use analytical methods to evaluate evidence, build and test models based on that evidence, and develop theories. Mathematical studies of form and pattern can create a language that assists in these investigations. Courses in this cluster provide students with the opportunity to develop problem-solving skills in science and mathematics at the college level. Students will be introduced to a substantial body of scientific facts, concepts, models, and theories and will also gain experience in using basic mathematics to obtain knowledge about the natural world. Each track is multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary, thereby demonstrating boundaries and connections among mathematics, the sciences and other aspects of culture.

For more information, visit the Cluster Three website: Cluster Three

Cluster Four: Social and Cultural Processes

Courses in Cluster Four require students to think critically about their own society and its relationship to the larger global community.  These courses develop responsible and enlightened global citizenship by examining a wide variety of the processes that shape the human experience.

For more information, visit the Cluster Four website: Cluster Four

Cluster Five: Individuals in the Human Community

In Cluster Five, students learn about themselves as individuals and as members of different communities. Through studying the many variables that influence human behavior, students gain an understanding of the relationship between the individual and a diverse community and develop a sense of responsibility for self and community. Students explore how individuals develop and function in the social, psychological, emotional, physical and spiritual dimensions.

For more information, visit the Cluster Five website: Cluster Five