The first act of Stony Brook University’s Committee on General Education in 2009 was to adopt a mission statement. It reads:
Our purpose is to assess and reconsider the Stony Brook General Education curriculum to provide our students with a diverse educational foundation that will facilitate lifelong active and adaptive learning and inspire engaged global citizenship.
Our primary focus has been to try to provide our students with the best education, while celebrating Stony Brook’s identity and strengths.A pivotal event in the work of our committee was the 2009 Stony Brook retreat. During this retreat Stony Brook faculty, staff, undergraduate students, and alumni gathered at Glen Cove Mansion for two days of reflection and discussion on the value and implementation of General Education at Stony Brook. The Stony Brook students in attendance at the retreat recognized the value of General Education as clearly as the faculty and staff. However, they and the faculty held the current system in disdain. Even the best conceived General Education systems clearly degrade in quality over time. A principal reason for the students’ negative attitude was the perceived disconnect between the intended purpose of a course and its in-class experience. To address this concern, we believe that a new General Education system should establish and maintain a close connection between the intended purpose of the course and its implementation.
In reviewing and designing a new General Education curriculum, the committee chose four Guiding Principles to direct our thinking: Clarity of Purpose; Experience beyond the Classroom; Unifying Themes; and Simplicity, Flexibility and Accessibility.