Proposing a General Education Course (GPAC)

All courses that count toward the University General Education Requirement, as well as Columbian College GPAC courses, have been vetted by Columbian College faculty to ensure they address the learning outcomes specific to the learning goals articulated in Choosing a GPAC Designation below.

Criteria for GPAC Designation

If you are a GW faculty member and would like to submit a course for GPAC approval, please follow all of the directions on the GPAC Checklist Form. This form will be filled out directly online, with space to upload all course materials, and a button to submit at the end of the form. Once submitted, the course will be reviewed by the GPAC Committee. Submittal deadlines are November 15 for the fall semester and March 15 for the spring semester. Please allow three weeks for the committee to review your course; after that time, you will receive feedback from a committee member.

Note: courses approved in the fall will start their GPAC designation the following fall; courses approved in the spring will start their GPAC designation the following spring. 

Submit a Course for GPAC Approval Google Form


Choosing a GPAC Designation


All faculty must choose one of these four “Analysis” designations:

  1. Critical Thinking or Critical Analysis refers to the analysis and evaluation of complex information – that is systems of theory or thought – as well as the formulation of logical arguments based on that analysis. To be accepted as a "critial thinking" class, students, through graded assignments, must fulfill all of the following learning objectives:
    • Analyze and evaluate abstract information
    • Understand and analyze scholarly literature and argumentation, in particular its theoretical orientation and sources of support
    • Formulate a logical argument based on that analysis
  2. Creative Thinking refers to the creation of new or original work. It might involve the creation of new scientific work, an artistic creation, or a new scholarly argument based on a set of findings. To be accepted as a “creative thinking” class, students through graded assignments must fulfill at least one of the learning objectives:
    • Create a new scientific work based on a set of findings
    • or Create an artistic work based on an understanding or interpretation of artistic traditions or knowledge of contemporary context
    • or Create a new scholarly argument based on a set of findings.
  3. 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. To be accepted as a “quantitative reasoning class,” students through graded assignments must fulfill all of the learning objectives:
    • Represent mathematical information symbolically, visually, numerically, and verbally
    • Articulate precise mathematical definitions and propositions and draw inferences from them
    • Use algebraic, geometric, or statistical calculations to solve problems
    • Interpret and explain information represented in mathematical forms (e.g., graphs, equations, diagrams, tables)
  4. Scientific Reasoning refers to consistent, logical thought patterns which are employed during the process of scientific inquiry that enable individuals to: propose relationships between observed phenomena; design experiments to assess the validity of these relationships; evaluate the results of these experiments; all using the tools, skills, and techniques of quantitative reasoning. To be accepted as a “scientific reasoning” class, students through graded assignments must fulfill all of the learning objectives:
    • Understand the hypothetico-deductive method
    • Test hypotheses using data and scientific reasoning
    • Understand how probability theory affects interpretation of experimental results
    • Understand the difference between causation and correlation

Students must take two courses in the General Education curriculum that foster a broad social and cultural perspective. One of those courses must include either a global perspective or a cross-cultural perspective and one of these courses must promote local or civic engagement.

  1. Global Perspective analyzes the ways in which institutions, practices, and problems transcend national and regional boundaries or link those regions and boundaries together. A global perspective might include, but is not restricted to: the analysis of multi-national or multi-regional efforts to address global problems such as climate change or poverty; the examination of the global circulation of ideas and media images; the global impact of religions; or the impact of diasporic movements of peoples (past or present.) To be accepted as a “global perspectives” class, students through graded assignments must:
    • Analyze an issue in terms of its global implications
    • Frame questions, gather evidence, analyze evidence, and draw conclusions about an issue in terms of its global implications
  2. Cross-Cultural Perspective involves the study of human differences, focusing on how different groups of people organize their social lives and material surroundings. A cross-cultural perspective includes, but is not limited to, an analysis of racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, religious, gendered, or sexual diversity, either in the present or in the past. To be accepted as a “cross-cultural perspectives” class, students through graded assignments must fulfill all of the learning objectives:
    • Identify and analyze the impact of diverse experiences and/or cultures upon human behavior, thought, and expression
    • Use cultural comparison as a tool for understanding how social, cultural, or economic contexts shape understandings and behaviors
  3. Local/Civic Engagement develops the values, discipline and commitment to pursue responsible public action. It asks that students take their knowledge and try to use it to create solutions for the common good, integrating knowledge with ethical and civic concerns. Civic engagement can include, but is not limited to, structured and reflective participation in a local community or communities or the application of general theoretical knowledge to understanding social issues. To  be accepted as a “local/civic engagement” class, students through graded assignments must fulfill all of the learning objectives:
    • Analyze a social issue or civic concern
    • Propose an intervention or solution based on broader theoretical knowledge
    • Balance diverse perspectives in deciding whether to act
    • Distinguish the multiple consequences and implications of their actions

Students learn to communicate effectively by taking UW 1020, two WID courses, and a course in either the General Education curriculum or their major that involves oral communication in any language taught at GW.

Written Communication is 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. It is developed through UW 1020 and Writing in the Disciplines (WID).

Students who successfully complete UW 1020 will be able to:

  •     Evaluate and analyze evidence and assumptions in complex argumentative texts, including their own writing
  •     Use research questions to frame and develop an argument
  •     Apply appropriate rhetorical principles and stylistic conventions for the genre in which they are writing
  •     Find and incorporate sources from appropriate academic databases in their essays and cite them correctly
  •     Develop, edit, and proofread their own work through a process of structured revision

Students who successfully complete two WID courses will be able to:

  •     Recognize and apply rhetorical principles and stylistic conventions appropriate to the discipline in which they are working;
  •     Identify, analyze, synthesize, evaluate, and employ information resources and/or other forms of supporting evidence appropriate to the discipline in which they are working;
  •     Construct rigorous, well-informed arguments and/or sound, probing questions or hypotheses appropriate to the discipline in which they are working; and
  •     Apply critical, analytical, and evaluative thinking to their own writing, through drafting, revising, and/or editing processes appropriate to the discipline in which they are working

Oral Communication is the effective interpretation, composition, and presentation of information, ideas, and values to a specific audience.

To receive the “Oral Communication” designation, the course must include at least two graded oral presentations and must fulfill all of the learning objectives:

  1. Identify significant presentation topics
  2. Prepare presentations that have a clear thesis and persuasive argument
  3. Demonstrate topical and disciplinary knowledge through well-crafted and audience-appropriate language
  4. Demonstrate vocal and physical qualities that augment content and maintain audience interest. At least 15% of the course grade must be based on the oral presentations. Ideally, there should be at least a 10 minute presentation per student. Both written feedback and course content must address good oral communications.


GPAC Committee Members

  • Stephanie Travis, Chair; Director and Associate Professor of the Interior Architecture and Design Program
  • Bethany Kung, Director of the University Honors Program and Associate Professor of Honors and Physics
  • Michelle Kelso, Assistant Professor of Sociology and International Affairs
  • Sandie Friedman, Deputy Director of the Writing Center and Assistant Professor of Writing
  • Carly Jordan, Director of WLP and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences in Women's Leadership Program