Provost Asserts Commitment to General Education

Posted: October 18, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

The overlying message of Monday’s state of academics forum hosted by Provost Peter Stearns was George Mason’s need to reinforce its commitment to a liberal arts education and continue to improve the general education curriculum.

Provost Peter Stearns
Provost Peter Stearns
Photo by Nicolas Tan

“We must continue to expose undergraduates to a variety of modes of teaching and subject matter,” said Stearns. “We also hope to challenge students on their own assumptions of the world and cause them to reflect on and examine the choices they make.”

Stearns said he believed that George Mason was “doing a pretty good job” in areas of general education, but that it could be improved and discussed more amongst faculty and administration. One of the strengths of the curriculum at George Mason, Stearns said, was its focus on global education and the arts in addition to the other basic subject areas in general education. “Mason makes a serious commitment to general education, and we continue that through to the upper-class courses,” Stearns said. “However, we need to do a better job of conveying to students the purpose of general education courses and how they relate to each other.”

The provost also spoke about the need to bring faculty members to Mason who have a balanced interest in both research and teaching. “General education is enlivened by a research-activated faculty. Research enlivens the education and vice versa. We need to do better with engaging undergraduates in research projects with faculty.”

Stearns also spoke about the international initiatives that Mason is undertaking. The campus at Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, is progressing and is expected to open fully in fall 2006. In addition, new programs with Chinese universities have allowed more Chinese students to come to Mason to study with exchange programs. He also discussed the university’s attempts to further educational initiatives with South Korea.

“In the current climate, I believe it is very important to continue to bring international students to our campus for many reasons. One is that it is a useful component of student life. Part of our aspiration has to be that every student at George Mason has some sense of current global knowledge, as well as future.” Stearns also said that the university has an international responsibility to extend aspects of an American education abroad whenever possible.

Write to at