General Studies Thematic
Since 1973 General Studies Thematic (GST) has been offering above-average
students who want to make the most of their freshman year an exceptional
educational experience. An interdisciplinary, team-taught program that
in one year satisfies thirty-three units of the General Education requirement,
GST provides exciting intellectual challenge and a supportive learning
environment for a small group of eager students for their first year. It
is also one of the three ways an entering freshman can participate in the
Honors in General Education Program.
Because of the supportive community, the curriculum, and active learning
experiences, you will learn more in a year than you believed possible,
have an intellectual framework on which you can build the rest of your
life, and make friends for years to come. You will also complete in one
year requirements that most students take two years to complete and be
in an excellent position to finish your undergraduate degree, whatever
What Is GST?
GST provides the kind of General Education program many universities are
trying to figure out how to provide for all of their first year students.
GST is thirty-six students and four to six dedicated faculty working their
way through the cultural evolution of our species from its Paleolithic
beginnings to the present. The class meets about seventeen hours a week
for the whole academic year. By the end of the first week, during which
we take a three-day field trip to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival, thirty-five
other students and the faculty will know you and you will already be working
with some of them on class assignments and your first college essay. You
will be on the way to meeting your educational expectations in a community
committed to realizing the academic aspirations of highly motivated freshmen.
In this supportive, learning community, we turn thirty-three units of the
GE requirements into a coherent, meaningful, panoramic view of civilization
by relating them and placing them in a historical context. For example,
we observe how population trends relate to such developments as the invention
of agriculture, the rise and fall of ancient civilizations and nomadic
invasions, the ravages of the Black Plague, the beginnings of the industrial
revolution, and the invention of capitalist economic theory. Along the
way we study the development of religion, science and philosophy, observe
how the arts mirror the cultures that produce them, and study the workings
of the human mind. We perform classical drama, do art, and stargaze. We
meet such interesting figures as Homer, Plato, Sappho, David Hume, Jane
Austen, Luther, Chinua Achebe, Jackson Pollack and Buddha.
Besides covering thirty-three units of your General Education requirement
in a way that makes sense and requires minimal schedule planning, GST provides
special opportunities simply not available to most first year students.
For example, as a GST student you would go to Ashland, Oregon, for three
days to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where you would see four plays
and take a backstage tour at special student rates. You would also make
two field trips to San Francisco to see plays at the American Conservatory
Theatre and tour major art museums in the Bay Area.
In addition, you would visit a local Trappist monastery to find out what
the monastic life, chosen by many medieval people, was like. Instead of
just hearing and reading about community involvement and social activism,
you would be given opportunities for practicing it in schools, hospitals,
and homes of the disadvantaged. Instead of struggling to build a class
schedule only to end up with one that may leave you no large blocks of
time between 8 in the morning and late afternoon and evening, in GST you
would have a 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. schedule almost every day. Finally, instead
of the anonymity of large lecture classes, you would find in GST a small
class where both your classmates and the faculty will know you by name
within a couple of days.
The GST faculty are professors drawn from such diverse fields as philosophy,
psychology, physics, English, agriculture, music, and art. All volunteered
to teach in GST because they believe the program provides the best opportunity
for giving students the background and skills necessary for a good liberal
arts education and for getting the most out of the rest of the university
Many of your college memories will result from the students you talk to
and work with. GST students like to learn. They are interested in new ideas,
new ways of thinking and seeing, and meeting and working with unfamiliar
people and problems. They are not afraid of taking risks. They are enthusiastic
about the challenges and opportunities offered by the program and the university
as they become independent adults. They tend to get the most they can from
their experiences. They like to read and read a lot.
GST students represent a normal cross-section of college freshmen former
cheerleaders, student politicians, journalists, athletes, bookworms, skateboarders,
musicians, and dramatists. Their backgrounds are as diverse as California
itself. Their majors range from math, computer science, and biology to
music, art, and education.
The opportunity to know and study with such students is one of the most
important things GST offers you; it is often cited by GST alumni as the
best feature of GST.
Admission To GST
Selection and admission to GST is by application only. In February or March,
GST mails a brochure and application form to all students whom Admissions
and Records identifies as qualified prospects. In addition, the brochure
and application form can be requested from GST by phone, mail, or from
our Web site on the Internet. Selection for admission to GST is based on
high school GPA (approximately 3.20 or better); exemption from or a passing
score on the EPT, and exemption from or a passing score on the ELM; an
application letter; and possibly a telephone interview.
If the GST program sounds interesting to you, but you do not think you
have enough information to decide to apply, then call us at the GST office,
send us an e-mail, or check out our Web site. Priority consideration is
given to applications received before May 10th.