Office of the President

Approval of General Education Program (Revised)

Executive Memorandum 10-001 March 4, 2010 (Revised May 15, 2013)

This Executive Memorandum has been superseded by 18-005 .

From: Paul J. Zingg, President

Subject: Approval of General Education Program (Revised)


The GE program at Chico State prepares students for continual learning and application of knowledge to career as well as personal life. It provides the education necessary for success as a lifelong learner and civically engaged individual in the twenty-first century.


Chico State students acquire a strong foundation in critical thinking, written and oral communication and the arts and sciences through inquiry about and engagement with the social and natural worlds we inhabit. This is achieved through study, reflection, synthesis and action related to knowledge from varied historical, cultural, scientific and political perspectives. In combination with the major field of study, GE completes the breadth of university education.

The GE Program incorporates and seeks to foster the values of:

Active Inquiry - A spirit of curiosity to ask questions, seek answers, contemplate, and pursue investigations with intellectual rigor, incorporating appropriate information technology, while making connections between cognitive and personal development, both inside and outside traditional instructional settings.

Personal and Social Responsibility - The knowledge to take responsibility for one's own life and actions, and to recognize opportunities and responsibilities to become engaged in our various local, regional, national, and international communities.

Sustainability - An understanding of the environmental dynamics associated with human activities and of the value of balancing social justice and human economic demands with the Earth's ability to sustain physical and biological resources and cultural diversity.

Diversity - An understanding of and facility with different intellectual viewpoints as well as the unique perspectives of others based on varied experiences, identities and social attributes.

Creativity - The generation of new ideas and original expressions in light of past innovations, traditions, and the history of ideas, accompanied by a willingness to take intellectual risks and consider novel approaches.

Global Engagement - The cultural, linguistic, and analytic skills necessary to understand and engage with diverse cultures, people, and the global marketplace, and to contribute as responsible global citizens.


The Student Learning Outcomes for our General Education program flow from the recognition that certain essential intellectual and practical skills rest at the foundation of a high-quality General Education program. These include effective written and oral communication, critical thinking, and mathematical reasoning skills.

  • Oral Communication: Demonstrates effective listening and speaking skills necessary to organize information and deliver it effectively to the intended audience.
  • Written Communication: Demonstrates the ability to question, investigate and draw well-reasoned conclusions and to formulate ideas through effective written communication appropriate to the intended audience.
  • Critical Thinking: Identifies issues and problems raised in written texts, visual media and other forms of discourse, and assesses the relevance, adequacy and credibility of arguments and evidence used in reaching conclusions.
  • Mathematical Reasoning: Demonstrates knowledge of and applies mathematical or statistical methods to describe, analyze and solve problems in context.

Additional Student Learning Outcomes arise from the values that the program seeks to foster.

  • Active Inquiry: Demonstrates knowledge of and applies research techniques and information technology appropriate to the intellectual and disciplinary context.
  • Personal and Social Responsibility: Demonstrates knowledge and skills necessary to take responsibility for one's own life and actions, and to recognize opportunities and responsibilities to become engaged in our various local, regional, national, and international communities.
  • Sustainability: Describes and explains the environmental dynamics associated with human activities, and assesses the value of balancing social and economic demands with the Earth's ability to sustain physical and biological resources and cultural diversity.
  • Diversity: Demonstrates an understanding of and facility with different intellectual viewpoints as well as the unique perspectives of others based on varied experiences, identities and social attributes.
  • Creativity: Takes intellectual risks and applies novel approaches to varied domains.
  • Global Engagement: Demonstrates knowledge and skills necessary to engage global cultures and peoples.


The Curricular Organization of GE adheres to the articulated values, LEAP learning outcomes, and curricular requirements of Executive Order 1033 and thus insures transferability, but is defined more explicitly in this document to create a unique experience consistent with the Mission and Values of CSU, Chico. The program consists of 48 units - 18 foundational units, 6 units of American institutions, and 24 units of pathway breadth that includes 9 upper division units. This program is intended to allow students more elective units, and to ensure that courses are accessible for student progress toward degree. Major Programs with over 60 units in the major or fewer than 6 units of free electives that wish to increase the required number of units in the major must have approval of Academic Senate.

Departments and colleges that wish to participate in the GE program must open their courses to all students and offer their proposed courses every semester. If a department cannot offer a course every semester and has a set of complementary courses (e.g. Asian History and African History), it may propose a set of two GE courses, one to be offered only in fall and one to be offered only in spring.

GE courses will generally not have university-level prerequisites, unless the prerequisites derive from the GE Foundation.

Foundation - 18 Units

The Foundation consists of one course each in Oral Communication, Written Communication, Critical Thinking, Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Life Sciences. The courses in Physical and Life Sciences will have a lab component. Because Oral and Written Communication, Critical Thinking and Math prepare students for success in subsequent coursework, students must pass each of these courses with a C- or better. There will be no more than 7 courses offered for any foundation area. Foundation courses are not required to be in a breadth pathway, but pathways should identify at least one foundation course in order to familiarize students with pathways early in their careers. Students are encouraged to complete the GE Foundation early, preferably prior to their attaining junior standing.

American Institutions - 6 Units

One course in US History (also counting as a Humanities breadth course) and one course in US Constitution, California State and Local Government (also counting as a Societal Institutions breadth course) from the departments of history and political science, respectively.

Foundation and American Institutions courses will identify which values and student learning outcomes of the GE program they address.



Definition: A Pathway connects courses structurally in an intellectually cohesive course of study that explores an issue or area from a multidisciplinary perspective. Pathways must be broad enough to include different disciplines and narrow enough to maintain thematic cohesion. Pathways will be designed to provide the opportunity for both intellectual coherence and exploration. Students are encouraged, but not required, to take all of their breadth courses in a pathway. A student completing 18 or more units in a Pathway, including 9 units of upper division coursework within that pathway, is awarded an interdisciplinary minor.

Beyond the foundation level, each breadth Pathway will consist of 24 units or 8 courses - 3 arts and humanities, 3 social science, 1 science, and 1 lifelong learning course in addition to at least one foundation course associated with the pathway. Each course in the pathway must address one or more of the Values described in the Mission and Values for GE at CSU, Chico. All of the values of the GE program must be addressed within each pathway, and each pathway should also provide multiple opportunities for students to practice and apply their skills and knowledge obtained from the GE Foundation. A department or equivalent unit may have no more than 3 courses in a given pathway. However, departments wishing to propose complementary courses may increase their limit of three courses within a pathway to four, but may do so only once within a pathway.

Lower Division: Lower division courses in the pathway will address the disciplinary areas of the Arts, Humanities, 2 Social Sciences - Individual and Society and Societal Institutions - and Lifelong Learning. Each lower division disciplinary area (e.g., Lifelong Learning, Arts, Humanities, etc.) within a pathway will have no more than 3 possible course choices. However, a course may be offered in more than one pathway if it fits conceptually. To encourage the study of multiple languages and levels of language, successful completion of any foreign language course may be used to fulfill the Humanities lower division breadth requirement. Foreign language courses will not count against the three courses permitted in the Humanities in each Pathway.

Upper division: The upper division portion of each pathway will consist of three 300-level courses, one each from the arts/humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. One course will be the designated writing intensive capstone course. Normally students should be able to complete the university's diversity requirements (see below) in the Upper division portion of a given pathway. Each disciplinary area will include no more than 3 courses. Students must choose one pathway for the completion of their upper-division GE requirement. Students may not use an upper division course for GE credit unless they have completed at least 45 semester units and all GE foundation requirements prior to enrolling in the course.

In this document, Honors versions of courses are not included in set limits.

GE Minors

Upon completion of 18 units within one pathway, including nine units of upper division within the same pathway, students will be awarded an interdisciplinary GE minor with the same name as the pathway. Only one of the Foundation Courses connected to a pathway may count toward the 18 unit minor.

Management of Breadth Pathway

Normally there will be a minimum of 5 and no more than 10 pathways. Initial generation and approval of pathways will follow a timeline established by an Implementation Team, named by the Provost in consultation with the Academic Senate and other campus leadership. The number and thematic content of pathways will be determined by the Implementation Team and GEAC in consultation with the Senate (i.e. a discussion item) according to the following criteria: the need to meet student demand; the need to maintain coherence by limiting the total number of courses in GE; the quality of proposed pathways; and their ability to meet the values of GE. Pathway approval will be informed by comparisons among proposed pathways and by attempting to balance pathways so they reflect the diverse disciplines of the campus. Each pathway will have a coordinator who will assure breadth and consistent thematic coherence. Pathway coordinators will receive release time and will be elected by faculty members participating in the pathway.

Because pathways are interdisciplinary, they must demonstrate sufficient cross-disciplinary support for successful implementation. The proposal of a new pathway or the elimination of a pathway will follow the normal procedures for the proposal or elimination of minors. The proposal and/or elimination of individual courses within a pathway must be advertised (e.g., through memos of intent) and approved by the GE Curriculum Advisory Board (CAB). Once a pathway has been established, courses within a pathway can be eliminated and new ones proposed through CAB.

Experimental courses: A category may be established to allow for experimentation and new courses in General Education. All of the guidelines for pathway courses apply to experimental courses except for the following:

  • Because this category will contain courses that are not organized around a common theme, students will not receive a minor through the completion of 18 units in this category.
  • There need not be designated writing intensive courses or capstones.
  • There will be no designated coordinator; the experimental courses will be administered and assessed annually by CAB.
  • Students may not meet the upper division GE requirement by taking courses in this category.
  • There can be no more than one experimental course per department.
  • All courses proposed for this category will have a limit of three years, and at which time the course must find a home in another pathway or exit the general education program.


Diversity Graduation Requirement The principal goal of this requirement is for students to gain insight into intercultural relations and the variety of cultures and peoples present both in the United States and the world at large. This requirement will be met by taking two courses. Some pathways should include upper division courses that allow transfer students to complete this requirement without taking additional General Education courses.

Students must complete both of the following two aspects of the Diversity Requirement (two courses)

  • One course that focuses on and contextualizes the experiences of one or more groups found in the U. S. that are distinct from the dominant U.S. culture
  • One course that focuses on non-U.S. culture(s) distinct from the dominant U.S. and European experience

Courses that satisfy the Diversity Requirement must introduce and examine

  • Basic concepts of intergroup and intercultural relations, such as racism, ethnocentrism, the impact of cultures on each other, perception, and the intersection of differing value systems
  • The intersection of ethnicity, language, or culture with gender, sexuality, class, or other important social categories, such as religion

Students, after completing the diversity courses, will have knowledge of

  • Relationships among different ethnic groups
  • Interactions, values, and perceptions of cultures distinct from the dominant U.S. and European cultures
  • The social construction of class, race, ethnicity, or gender

GE Capstone Requirement

Every student must take a GE capstone course that 1) integrates the different areas and disciplinary perspectives of a pathway, and 2) challenges students to synthesize and create new approaches or solutions to specific issues within the pathway. Capstones are writing intensive and must also integrate oral and written presentations of student work. Degree programs that offer major capstones that integrate different approaches, challenge students to synthesize information, and are writing intensive may, upon an approval process through CAB, count for the capstone requirement. Students then take three upper-division courses within a pathway without having to take an additional capstone course.

Writing Requirements

Students must take at least 4 GE courses designated as Writing Intensive. The freshman course in Academic Writing and the capstone course count as two of these courses. Transfer students who have completed their lower division GE at another institution may fulfill the GE writing requirement by taking one Writing Intensive course in the Upper Division. These courses must have writing assignments in which students have the opportunity to improve their writing through an iterative process such as multiple drafts, sequential writing assignments, constructive feedback and discipline-appropriate pedagogy. Writing intensive courses will have no more than 30 students. Alternative classroom structures with larger enrollments or different delivery formats may be approved after careful consideration by CAB. Because writing intensive courses require additional preparation and expertise on the part of the instructor, the University will provide opportunities for faculty development in writing instruction. Support will include (but is not limited to):

  • Ongoing Faculty Learning Communities to create and share best practices in writing pedagogy
  • Classroom support such as TAs or graders
  • Support for writing pedagogy mentoring by campus writing experts
  • Stipend opportunities for faculty to be trained in writing instruction
  • Ongoing structured consultation with the University Writing Committee


Capstone Substitution

Major programs that have a required capstone course that includes components of integration, synthesis, and intensive writing are encouraged to substitute their capstone for the GE capstone requirement with approval from CAB. Students will still need to complete the three upper division GE disciplinary requirements.

Major Fulfillment of GE Requirements

Major programs may apply to CAB to designate up to three GE requirements (in addition to the capstone) fulfilled upon completion of that major. Students who have completed these areas for a major and subsequently declare a different major may use the courses already taken to fulfill GE requirements.

Advanced Course Substitution

A student may substitute a more advanced course for a Foundation Course. For example, a student might take MATH 120, substituting it for a lower-level General Education mathematics course such as MATH 101. CAB will keep a running list of acceptable course substitutions and administer this process in consultation with appropriate disciplinary faculty.

Writing Intensive Substitution

Major programs that have courses that are not in GE in which writing assignments and instruction are comparable to those in designated writing intensive courses may apply to CAB for such a course to substitute for one of the required writing intensive courses.

Additional Waivers and Substitutions

The current program is designed to provide a rigorous, shared experience that is essential for liberal education in the 21st century. Given the built-in flexibility of the program, additional waivers or substitutions to the GE program are strongly discouraged. Per Executive Order 1033, high unit professional major degree programs may apply for additional waivers and substitutions from the Chancellor's Office if they are first approved at the campus level. For such approval at CSU, Chico, programs must first present a reasonable case to CAB that a waiver or substitution is necessary for the purpose of program accreditation. CAB will consult with Senate on these exceptions. Finally, any proposed substitution must be consistent with the mission of the GE program and address the Student Learning Outcomes as specified in the first section of this document. These substitutions will be assessed as part of the GE program.

  • If a major program would prefer to keep the GE substitutions that it had as of Fall 2009, it may do so such that the total number of units contained in GE will not increase or decrease. The programs that opt to "grandfather" will follow the normal route for substitutions and waivers through CAB in the future.


Administrative Structure

The CAB (Curriculum Advisory Board) will be responsible for making recommendations to the Provost or designee on the implementation, monitoring, and development of the GE program. In consultation with appropriate disciplinary faculty, it is responsible for the coordination of assessment and the addition or deletion of individual courses as well as any proposed substitutions. Since CAB will advise the Provost on a major university program, it may either initiate advice or respond to requests for advice. This committee will comprise:

  • Eight Faculty Representatives - One representative elected by and from each college and one by and from the library. (two year staggered terms, renewable)
  • Pathway Coordinators - Pathway coordinators receive release time for overseeing the coherence and breadth of pathways and participation on CAB; a coordinator may also serve concurrently as an elected college representative (two year staggered terms, renewable)
    • One selected from the Academic Senate's Educational Policies and Programs Committee (one year term, renewable twice)
    • Two ex-officio members -- one Provost designee and one member of the Academic Advising Programs
    • One student representative selected by the AS President (one year term, renewable)

The CAB chair will be elected annually from the faculty representatives and will receive release time for coordinating the committee's work.

COB - Curriculum Oversight Board

Other administrative tasks associated with GE, such as ensuring adequate funding of the program, ensuring that courses are offered and space needs are met are ultimately the responsibility of the Provost. Functionally, these tasks, and appropriate consultation concerning them, will be handled by a committee of all college deans chaired by the Dean of Undergraduate Education.


Assessment of the GE program will be driven and guided by the program's Mission and Values, and the Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) derived from these. The Mission of the GE program emphasizes a strong intellectual foundation, disciplinary knowledge, civic engagement and lifelong curiosity and learning about the social and natural worlds.

The program's values of active inquiry, personal and social responsibility, sustainability, diversity, creativity and global engagement serve to provide additional guidance regarding the essential qualities and Student Learning Outcomes for students completing the GE program. It is expected that students will experience the GE program as a structured, coherent sequential learning experience that provides grounding in the qualities elaborated in the Mission and Values. In addition, it is expected that Pathways will create a statement of how they demonstrate both breadth and coherence around core intellectual concepts that unite the courses found in a given Pathway. Pathways will assess their effectiveness in maintaining these core concepts and providing students with coherent exposure to these concepts.

CAB will charge Pathway coordinators, working with faculty teaching in the pathways, with regular assessment of GE program level outcomes as expressed in a given Pathway. CAB will designate a set of SLOs to be assessed each year. Pathway coordinators will work with faculty to determine an assessment plan that is accessible and efficient in assessing those SLOs that are under review.

Pathways are also responsible for maintaining and demonstrating their intellectual coherence and breadth. Pathway coordinators, in consultation with faculty teaching in the pathway, will report annually to CAB on steps taken to maintain coherence and breadth and demonstrated student learning.

ADDENDUM: Initial Implementation of Program

Upon the approval of this proposal as an Executive Memorandum, the Provost will form an Implementation Team through a consultative process that includes the Executive Committee of Academic Senate and other campus leadership. The team will be charged by the Provost to plan and carry out an effective and successful implementation process for the new curriculum, ensuring:

  • Consultation with administration, faculty, staff, and students to create an implementation process consistent with this EM and best practices exemplified at other institutions and in the literature on general education
  • A transparent and equitable implementation process that is open to campus scrutiny, with appropriate deadlines for submission and evaluation of proposals for Pathways and courses that allows for the examination of any particular proposal in context of the entire program.
  • To allow smooth transition and sufficient time for development of the Pathways, the new GE program will be phased in.

Foundation and American Institutions

Foundation and American Institutions courses revised in line with GE Program Mission and Values by Fall 2011. This allows faculty teaching these courses to work on incorporating GE Student Learning Outcomes in Spring 2010-Fall 2010 with an eye toward inclusion in the catalogue for Fall 2011.


Pathways and their courses are developed, formed, and reviewed over a more extended period of time. Faculty begin the process of Pathway development in Spring 2010. The Implementation Team will widely advertise the start and completion dates of the following stages.

Pathway development (at least 3 months)

An individual faculty member or group of faculty members can propose possible pathway themes with one to two courses for each discipline (e.g. Lifelong Learning) in order to show the pathway's possible viability. The courses listed for each discipline are for illustration purposes only -- they need not be existing courses, or have received approval as new courses, or be proposed by potential instructors in the discipline. The Implementation Team and GEAC will help faculty through this process. Pathway proposals submitted to the Implementation Team would be listed on the General Education website so that all faculty are aware of pathway proposals and to facilitate collaboration across campus.

Preliminary Pathway Theme approval by the combined Implementation Team and GEAC in consultation with the Senate (at least 3 months): It is important that as early as possible that pathway themes are decided so that faculty members know what pathways exist and do not spend a lot of time developing many pathways. Once the widely advertised deadline to submit proposals to the Implementation Team (IT) has passed, the pathway proposals will be considered by EPPC and then the full the Senate. Through this process, the GE pathways general themes will be selected.

Pathway course selection (at least 6 months)

Once the campus knows what the pathway themes will be pathway coordinators will be elected by faculty. The IT and GEAC will facilitate this process. Once the pathway coordinator has been elected, he or she will work with faculty to populate the pathway with courses and to ensure the pathway fulfills all requirements such as adequate numbers of writing intensive courses. The IT and GEAC will be especially important at this stage to make sure that faculty across campus are involved in this process and to assist faculty in creating pathways that are viable and meet GE program SLOs. During this stage, chairs and deans would need to indicate their support for a particular course's inclusion in a pathway.

Final Pathway approval by Senate

Senate will make the final decisions regarding the acceptance of pathway proposals. Courses for the Innovation Pathway will only need GEAC approval.

The initial Pathway and course approval process is straightforward and reasonable for both those proposing courses and for those evaluating courses

That the implementation process and the new program receive adequate support for its success.

There is a clear process and procedure for CAB to consider deletion and replacement of pathways.

During the transition to the new GE program outlined in this EM, the current administrative committee for General Education (GEAC) stands. GEAC will participate in the planning and approval of courses proposed for general education in coordination with an Implementation Team.

This EM shall be reviewed beginning 5 years after implementation is complete and every 5 years thereafter.