General Education

General Education at WWU: Information for Faculty and Staff on the General University Requirements (GURs)

Faculty planning to teach a course that is designated as a General University Requirement GUR should review the detailed outline of the GUR Literacies Clusters as described by the Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE) Literacies report.

When submitting proposals for new or revised GUR courses, faculty need to indicate (both in their proposal and the attached sample syllabus)

  • one core knowledge literacies cluster that best describes the course and
  • one or more core practice literacies cluster

New course proposals and course revisions are submitted to the WWU Curriculog website. In addition to review through department and college curriculum approval processes, GUR course proposals are reviewed and approved by the Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE).

Notes about GURs and literacies

An individual GUR course does not have to address all the literacies in the cluster title. For example, a course in the Social, Cultural, & Historical Literacies cluster might focus more on cultural literacies or social literacies. Some courses might have a historical component, and others might not. A course in the Quantitative, Scientific, & Technological Literacies cluster, may focus on quantitative literacies, scientific literacies, or some combination of these literacies. An Environmental Studies GIS course might focus on science and technology, for instance.

Some knowledge, information, and practice in the GURs may be new to some students. The GURs help these students begin to develop foundational knowledge and practice. Some students will already have basic knowledge and familiarity with certain literacies. The GURs help these students extend (or provide more context for) their prior knowledge, develop their meta-knowledge, and gradually help them acquire deeper proficiency through additional practice.

The GURs can also serve an “integrative” function. First, they can work against the common misperception that the GURs are simply a distribution list of separate items that students need to complete and check off. Broad disciplinary interests and areas are now grouped (or “integrated”) into one of three, multi-dimensional knowledge literacies clusters that cross our current GUR categories.

While these three knowledge clusters do not overlap in and of themselves (nor are the individual courses within each knowledge cluster necessarily integrated with each other), we believe they do send a message.

However, the message that we hope these literacies will communicate to students is that they (students) can also use the literacy practices that they are acquiring to forge their own connections and linkages within and between literacies in the knowledge domains. We would hope that students come to see the knowledge GURs as clusters of ideas and methodologies that can help them continue to build understandings of themselves and their worlds throughout their lives. So, a second sense of “integrative” refers to the critical and intellectual practices of forming connections and making meaning.

Download the literacies diagram

The Committee on Undergraduate Education developed the following diagram to illustrate the conceptual relationship of the literacies clusters. You can customize the images of the knowledge and literacies rosette. You can highlight any section and shade that section to indicate the knowledge and practice literacies for your course. Faculty should then include this customized literacies rosette in the course syllabus.

A spiral with the words Your Major: Specialized Knowledge and Practice Literacies in the center of the sprial.