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General Education: The Human Community

Introduction to General Education
The General Education Program “The Human Community” is the core academic program 
of James Madison  University. It is required of all students regardless of their major or 
professional program. The Human Community  seeks to educate students in ways that 
have been fundamental to higher education and to thinking people for centuries.

The mission of The Human Community is four-fold:
  • to graduate students who will be informed citizens, well prepared to participate in public life and public decision-making;
  • to provide students with critical skills in reasoning, communication, and technology that build a strong foundation for course work at JMU as well as for their lives and careers after college;
  • to introduce students to core areas of knowledge that are central to the history of western civilization, including its interactions with other traditions within the global community; and
  • to invite students to know themselves intellectually, emotionally, and physically and to consider the connections between values and behavior.

In order to accomplish this mission, the university requires students to complete 41-44 credit 
hours of course work  in five major areas of study we call “clusters.” The Human Community 
provides fundamental knowledge and skills  across the breadth of traditional disciplines so that 
students learn how to:

  • think and communicate effectively (Cluster One);
  • appreciate the arts and humanities as an essential component of the human experience (Cluster Two);
  • recognize the relevance of science and mathematics in the world they inhabit (Cluster Three);
  • identify ways in which political, social and economic forces shape American and global experiences (Cluster Four); and
  • understand themselves both as individuals and members of various groups in society (Cluster Five).
The JMU Center for Assessment and Research Studies publishes the assessment reports for General Education. (
For a full description of the Five Clusters and the learning objectives of each, visit the Human Community website  at