Undergraduates new to our University often ask why they
have to take so many courses outside their majors. This is
an excellent question that deserves a thoughtful answer.
The most important thing to realize is that these required
courses are not just hoops everyone has to jump through before
they can focus on what most interests them. In fact, without
courses like these, a graduate can’t really claim to
be a university-educated person.
These courses constitute our General Education program.
Combining general education and the major is what allows
HPU to fulfill
its mission to provide students with an American education
built on a liberal arts foundation.
A major provides the in-depth learning of an undergraduate
education. It allows students to acquire the tools of a particular
discipline, often with the intention of using those tools
in a specific career field. It’s what enables graduating
students to say, “I know a lot about that!”
And yet, as central as majors are, to be a well-rounded and
educated person in the world today, it’s not enough
to have depth of knowledge about one area. Knowing a particular
discipline does not necessarily prepare you to evaluate every
issue that arises, either on the job or in daily life.
needed, in addition to the in-depth learning of a major,
is a broader awareness of the world and its people and the
many different ways of making sense of life on earth. What’s
needed is a flexibility of mind, and that’s exactly
what a good General Education program can foster. Some people
call general education a student’s first major!
HPU’s Five Themes are the organizing principle behind
our General Education program: communication skills, global
systems, world cultures, values and choices, research, and
epistemology. These themes are most frequently seen on undergraduate
course syllabi, which explain how the course relates to one
or more of the themes. One way to think about the Five Themes
is that they help each student become what he or she believes
is a good global citizen.
Hawai‘i Pacific University is always working to make
things even better, and that’s true for general education
as well. We hope that our General Education Program will
be one that students remember long after they have immersed
themselves in their majors, and long after they have graduated