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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).

James Madison University has engaged in committed assessment of student learning in its General Education Program for over twenty-five years. 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 here

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