General Education

Why do students need Gen Ed courses?

What are General Education Courses?

The Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU), defines the General Education (GNED) Requirement in Appendix C of the Minister’s Binding Policy Directive, Framework for Programs of Instruction (2009) as follows: “The purpose of General Education in the Ontario college system is to contribute to the development of citizens who are conscious of the diversity, complexity, and richness of the human experience; who are able to establish meaning through this consciousness; and, who, as a result, are able to contribute thoughtfully, creatively, and positively to the society in which they live and work. General Education strengthens student’s generic skills, such as critical analysis, problem solving, and communication, in the context of an exploration of topics with broad-based personal and / or societal importance” (MTCU, Framework for Programs of Instruction, pg. 21).

The Framework also requires that programs of study (diploma and advanced diploma) must include a minimum of three (maximum of five) GNED courses. Durham College Certificate, Ontario College Certificate, Graduate Certificate and Apprenticeship programs are exempt from the requirement, and inclusion of GNED courses into the program of study is optional.

General Education Themes

GNED courses are intended to engage students in learning that exposes them to at least one discipline outside their main field of study and increase their awareness of the society and culture in which they live and work. The MCU GNED requirement outlines five course themes that must be followed when developing GNED courses. General Education courses provide a broad theoretical overview of a topic of personal and/or societal importance covering the following five themes:

General Education Course Development

New GNED course proposals must be submitted to the General Education Proposal and Course Review Committee for review and approval. Typically, the Faculty of Liberal Studies will issue a call for GNED course proposals in the winter semester, as course inventory dictates. The Committee will assess submissions based on subject area, proposed curriculum and perceived interest to students and then make recommendations for development.

Following GNED course approval from the General Education Proposal and Course Review Committee, a faculty member may develop the course outline and curriculum (e.g. learning activities, assessments, presentation material). The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) offers faculty support in course outline development. Course outlines are uploaded to WebCOT for final approval.

The CTL recommends using the Jump-Start model for GNED course lesson planning, learning activities and curriculum. This model ensures an evidence-based practice of designing courses that emphasizes the use of activities to engage the student, the presentation of a manageable amount of information, the opportunity for students to practice it, and then the consolidation of learning before moving on to the next unit of study.

General Education Resources

To support both course development and the annual review of course outlines, the CTL offers several resources:

General Education Policy and Procedure

The General Education Policy and Procedure (ACAD103) is the responsibility of the Office of the Executive Vice-President, Academic. All GNED courses are offered through the Faculty of Liberal Studies, with direction provided by the General Education Proposal and Course Review Committee.

Reference: Minister’s Binding Policy Directive, Framework for Programs of Instruction (2009)

Questions about General Education? Please contact the Faculty of Liberal Studies: