In 2005 the General Education Council established a Diversity Board in response to JMU’s initiative to promote diversity on campus. To guide its work, the Board adopted a definition of diversity that reflected the philosophy of the current program, General Education: The Human Community. At the time, diversity broadly included attention to ability/disability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, religion, sexuality, or world view. Programmatically, it aspired to promote this diversity not through a specific course or “diversity requirement” but through engagement with diversity-related content and outcomes infused throughout the entire General Education Program.

In 2016 the General Education Program renews this commitment to diversity. We believe that a deliberate inclusion of diverse points of view and lived experiences enhances learning and understanding for all members of our Human Community.

The goal of JMU’s General Education Program is to challenge students and faculty to engage in personal and collective reflection, development, and action through a diverse curriculum in the arts, sciences, and humanities. And we meet that goal as a Human Community consisting of students and teachers committed to exploring culture, knowledge, and the different orientations individuals develop to culture and knowledge. In this way, any general education course is as much an exploration of knowledge as it is an exploration of relationships students and teachers build with that knowledge. Whether encountered in a book or through interaction with the person sitting next to us, the voices and lived experiences of particular groups of individuals are important elements to any general education course subject.

The health of this Human Community, then, depends on diversity—of courses, disciplines, ways of knowing, and the voices and lived experiences of the people in our community. But we also believe that, historically, certain voices or perspectives have dominated the learning and understanding of human communities in the past, silencing other perspectives that might otherwise inspire new vision and cultivate new growth. To ensure our Human Community evolves equitably so that learning and understanding enrich us all, the General Education  Program aspires to cultivate diversity

  • as a process and an outcome of learning

  • in the kinds of information we study and ways used to frame that information

  • in the range/scope of Cluster learning objectives and the inquiry methods used to achieve the objectives

  • through a range of disciplinary lens used to examine academic subjects and of individual histories with those subjects.

In 2020, the General Education Council approved the following three focus questions during 2021-22 academic program review:

  • How can the General Education Program foreground diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice across the curriculum?
  • How are JMU students, including First-Year and Transfer students, now served by the program and what are new possibilities?
  • How should the General Education Program change to best prepare all students to meet the challenges of the future? Suggested pathways from across campus include Integrative Learning, High Impact Practices/HIPs, the Changemaker Ideals, and Data Literacy?

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