General Education Curriculum (GPAC)
The General Education Curriculum (GPAC) engages students in active intellectual inquiry by developing analytical skills, communication skills and diverse perspectives. Across a range of disciplines, students acquire enhanced analytic skills in quantitative and scientific reasoning and critical and creative thinking, along with a global and cross-cultural perspective, local/civic engagement and effective communication skills.
All GW students admitted to GW since fall 2011 must adhere to the GPAC Tier One (university general education) and GPAC Tier Two (CCAS) requirements.
Are you a GW faculty member and would like to submit a course for GPAC approval? Visit the GW Assessment website for instructions.
GPAC Tier One: University General Education Requirements
GW students across the university must complete the Tier One requirements.
- One course in quantitative reasoning
- One course in scientific reasoning (must be in natural and/or physical laboratory sciences)
- Two courses in critical thinking, quantitative reasoning or scientific reasoning in the social sciences
- One course in critical thinking in the humanities
- First Year Writing (UW 1020)
- Two writing intensive courses, Writing in the Disciplines (WID), after successful completion of UW 1020
- Oral Communication
- Critical Thinking
Critical thinking refers to the analysis and evaluation of complex information (systems of theory or thought) as well as the formulation of logical arguments based on that analysis. Students are required to take one course in critical thinking in the humanities and two courses in critical thinking in the social sciences.
- Quantitative Reasoning
Quantitative reasoning refers to the process of modeling problems of the real world within a formal abstract system, solving those problems using systematic numerical methods of analysis, and interpreting the results. Students are required to take one approved course.
- Scientific Reasoning
Scientific reasoning refers to consistent, logical thought patterns that are employed during the process of scientific inquiry that enables individuals to propose relationships between observed phenomena, design experiments to assess the validity of these relationships, and evaluate the results of these experiments, all using the tools, skills, and techniques of quantitative reasoning. Students are required to take one approved course in natural and/or physical laboratory sciences that include labs.
- Written Communication
Students are trained to communicate effectively in written formats through a First Year Writing course and subsequent Writing in the Disciplines courses.
The written communication requirement trains students in the effective use of language to express critical thinking that evaluates rhetorical situations, identifies significant lines of inquiry, investigates and analyzes available knowledge, and develops rigorous arguments appropriate to the intended audience. First year students enroll in UW 1020: University Writing, after which they take two writing-intensive courses, known as Writing in the Disciplines (WID).
- Oral Communication
The oral communication requirement trains students in the effective interpretation, composition, and presentation of information, ideas, and values to specific audiences. Only those courses that are designed to meet the objectives outlined above, and that are assessed for their outcomes in these areas, count for general education credit.
GPAC Tier Two: CCAS General Education Requirements
In addition to the Tier One requirements, all students in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences must also complete CCAS 1001 First Year Experience and additional Tier Two courses in critical thinking, scientific reasoning and creative thinking as well as courses that incorporate global or cross-cultural perspectives and emphasize local or civic engagement.
- One course in creative or critical thinking in the arts
One approved course in the arts that involves the study or creation of artwork based on an understanding or interpretation of artistic traditions or knowledge of art in a contemporary context.
- One additional course in scientific reasoning in the natural and/or physical laboratory sciences
One approved laboratory course that employs the process of scientific inquiry (that is in addition to the one course in this category required by the Tier One University General Education Requirement).
- One additional course in critical thinking in the humanities
One approved course in the humanities that involves critical thinking skills (that is in addition to the one course in this category required by the Tier One University General Education Requirement).
- One course that includes a global or cross-cultural perspective
One approved course that analyzes the ways in which institutions, practices and problems transcend national and regional boundaries.
- One course that includes a local/civic engagement perspective
One approved course that develops the values, ethics, disciplines, and commitment to pursue responsible public action.
- First Year Experience
General GPAC Policies
- Students admitted to GW in fall 2011 or later follow the GPAC curriculum
- Courses taken to fulfill any of the Tier One and Tier Two requirements, except UW 1020, may also be counted toward a major
- Credit by examination (AP, IB) and pre-matriculation transfer credit can count toward GPAC if approved as a GPAC equivalent course
- Once a student has matriculated, all remaining GPAC courses must be done in residence (approved study abroad courses taken during the fall and spring semesters can be considered in residence)
- Courses taken prior to the semesters they were approved for GPAC do not count towards GPAC