Bethel’s General Education curriculum is designed to meet 3 goals:
- Establish the Christian faith as a primary area of study for all students
- Integrate the study of Christian faith with all areas of learning
- Integrate elements and themes that are often separated in higher education
Organization of the General Education Curriculum
To meet these goals and achieve integration, our General Education curriculum is organized into 4 areas:
We represent the curriculum with the image of a building/structure supported by 4 pillars (pdf) because it captures some of the important qualities of our program.
The Foundations of General Education
Our curriculum includes courses students take during their first few semesters at Bethel, such as Introduction to the Liberal Arts, that provide skills and content on which upper-level courses build. Just as a sound structure is built on a solid foundation, includes suitable materials, and has structural integrity, it's important to us that we prepare students to succeed at Bethel by starting them off with a strong academic foundation.
The Pillars of General Education
Each General Education pillar is made up of a variety of components, including courses that all students take and categories from which students choose courses. These courses have been carefully chosen so that students learn multiple perspectives and appreciate the complexity of the world in which they live.
Our curriculum includes courses from many disciplines so that students are challenged to explore questions from multiple perspectives. For example, we want them to understand how their view of humanity is shaped by exploring their own Personal Development, examining God's view of humanity in Biblical Foundations, and studying different cultures through Global Perspectives, which includes courses on Western civilization as well as a a course about other cultures and a cross-cultural experience requirement.
The Capstone of General Education
In architecture, a capstone forms the top of a building or structure. Bethel’s General Education curriculum, which continues throughout all the years students are at Bethel, is capped by a senior-level course. In this capstone course, students examine some of the complex issues present in our contemporary society, integrating all they've learned to formulate their own personal ethic as they prepare to graduate.
Major Themes of the General Education Curriculum
- Emphasizing the interdependence of knowledge. To emphasize the interdependence of knowledge, our students experience the great fields of learning—humanities, social and natural sciences, the arts, and pre-professional studies.
- Seeking wholeness. To seek wholeness as we develop and mature, we explore the many aspects of being human as individual persons and members of societies.
- Understanding diversity and commonality. Our students examine Western and non-Western cultural perspectives to communicate both the differences and similarities in their histories and worldviews.
- Interacting with other cultures. To cultivate empathy and depth of understanding, we study the dominant ideas of many cultures with the firsthand experience of interacting with those cultures.
- Exploring the past, looking to the future. We look to the perspectives of history in order to understand the shaping of the present and near future. The aim is to cultivate a sense of an “extended present,” understand the movement of time, and explore the impacts of human choices on future generations.