UM launches general education courses to develop common learning experiences

Many top universities in the world have one thing in common: providing the best undergraduate education to students. In order to help students realize well-rounded development in terms of qualities and abilities, the University of Macau (UM) has in recent years implemented sweeping reforms to its undergraduate curriculum. In the 2011/2012 academic year, UM will launch core general education courses, which will be UM’s most important reform to the undergraduate curriculum in thirty years. Prof. Simon Ho, vice rector (academic affairs) of UM and chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Reform Committee, notes that the new general education courses aim to develop students into erudite specialists and well-rounded generalists who can integrate knowledge in different realms into an interconnected whole and also to help them grow into outstanding citizens with competitiveness.

General Education Aims to Realize Whole-Person Development

What is “general education”? UM’s definition of “general education” is “common learning experiences shared by all UM students.” General education does not simply refer to the blending of the sciences and the humanities. More importantly, general education aims to help students develop necessary core abilities and values through cross-disciplinary training. Harvard University launched a new general education curriculum in 2007, which has had profound influence on institutions of higher education around the world. Harvard’s goals of launching the new general education curriculum were to “prepare students for civic engagement; teach students to understand themselves as products of -- and participants in -- traditions of art, ideas, and values; prepare students to respond critically and constructively to change; and to develop students' understanding of the ethical dimensions of what they say and do.” Some universities in neighboring Hong Kong, such as the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Baptist University, have been implementing general education for more than four decades. At these universities, general education is also referred to as “whole-person education”, highlighting the fact that general education goes beyond imparting knowledge and developing skills and places greater emphasis on the development of personal character. In recent years, renowned universities in mainland China, such as Peking University and Fudan University, have also, one after another, launched undergraduate curriculum reforms and introduced the general education model, in an attempt to move towards the goal of whole-person education.

 

For more details about this news, please refer to the Chinese press release.

Released on 2011-02-16 18:06

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