General Education

No matter what you major in, and no matter what you choose to do with your degree, a common set of skills guides you on the path to personal fulfillment, professional success and engaged citizenship.

Communication. Critical thinking. Analytical adeptness. Flexibility. Adaptability. Teamwork. These form the basis for developing important intellectual, civic and practical capacities. Together they are the product of a timeless and enduring liberal arts education.

Albright’s General Education Curriculum was designed specifically to impart these skills to all students. A diverse, dynamic and inclusive sequence of educational experiences, the curriculum sets the stage for in-depth study in your major and illuminates linkages among fields of study.

The path described by the General Education Curriculum follows a progressive logic. The first foundational steps introduce you to conceptual and analytical tools that will see you through to more complex tasks of comparison and integration. As you continue, you will apply increasingly sophisticated understandings to intellectual and practical engagements with the world.

The following plan represents a newly envisioned approach to general education that took effect starting with the freshman class entering Albright in the fall of 2013.


The General Education Curriculum has three overarching goals: helping you know the world, engage the world and understand the world.

1. Knowing the World – You will learn about different disciplines, their objects of study, and their approaches to knowledge, establishing a broad foundation for engaging and understanding the world.

2. Engaging the World – You will understand cultures as well as the differences within and among them. You will learn different perspectives and contexts that shape our world and recognize the importance of social and ethical engagement in local and global contexts.

3. Understanding the World – Finally, you will learn to think critically, communicate effectively, and solve problems creatively by acquiring intellectual, practical and integrative skills. By interpreting, synthesizing and adapting knowledge and skills to different situations, you prepare yourself for an informed engagement with the world.

Components of the General Education Curriculum

The seven General Education Curriculum components are arranged so that you develop skills sequentially, with each component building on those that came before it. You’ll take 11 to 13 courses.

First-Year Seminar (1 course)

Freshman year

A liberal arts-oriented introduction to critical reading and writing skills and critical thinking in a seminar setting of approximately 15 students

Courses vary by instructor

Examples: Neuroethics; Digital Art; Psychoanalysis in Literature and Film; Perfect Children – New Eugenics; Community Politics in Pennsylvania; Experimental Fiction; Science and the Liberal Arts; Japanese Culture; Coming of Age in African American Texts; Memory and Violence in Latin America; American Schools and the Culture of Violence; Water: the Next Oil?

Composition (1-2 courses)

Freshman year

English 101, Composition, focuses on thesis-driven essays

English 102, Writing About Texts, emphasizes research writing and information literacy

Experience Events (16 events)

Freshman and sophomore years

Cultural events ranging from lectures and exhibitions to concerts and theatrical performances, each complementing the learning in other components along your General Education path

Examples include presentations by speakers of the results of research or inquiry of some kind; the performance of a scholarly, cultural or artistic production; and the critical engagement of some facet of the liberal arts:

  • “The Fragile Sex: Understanding Excess Male Mortality with an Evolutionary Framework,” Daniel Kruger, Ph.D., University of Michigan
  • Annual Fashion Showcase and Runway Show, highlighting the work of Albright’s student fashion designers
  • A Conversation with Bob Spitz ’71, author and music journalist (The Beatles: The Biography) and a former manager for Bruce Springsteen and Elton John
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, presented by Albright’s acclaimed Domino Players
  • “Stone Cold Science: Bose-Einstein Condensation and the Weird World of Physics a Millionth of a Degree above Absolute Zero,” Eric Cornell, Ph.D., 2001 Nobel Laureate in Physics.
  • “Confronting Holocaust Denial and Distortion in Today’s World,” Mark Weitzman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
  • Learning from Mandela, Rita Barnard, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
  • Cinema Soloriens: An Avant-garde Music/Media/Performance Project, James Harrar

Foreign Language (1-3 courses)

Begin in Freshman or sophomore year

Develops linguistic and cognitive capacities while also contributing to cross-cultural understanding and engagement

Languages include Spanish, French, German, Latin

Foundations (5 courses)

Freshman and sophomore years

The different approaches to knowledge explored through the major disciplinary areas; you’ll take one approved course in each of five areas:

  1. Natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology)
  2. Social sciences (anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics, political science)
  3. Quantitative studies (mathematics, statistics in math or the social science disciplines, computer science)
  4. Humanities (literature, history, religious studies, philosophy)
  5. Fine arts (art, music, theatre)

Connections (2 courses)

Sophomore and/or junior year, after First-Year Seminar and most or all Foundations courses

Two courses focused on different ways of living and relating to the world, in order to develop better social and ethical engagement; at least one with global content and at least one from the humanities

Courses may be drawn from a variety of fields, from history to gender studies, literature, international relations, business, sociology, environmental studies and many others

Synthesis (1 course)

Junior or senior year

General Education’s capstone course, which integrates prior learning, connects to your major, and addresses the idea and practice of interdisciplinarity

Examples include Food and Culture; Self Awareness; Global Health; Baseball and American Culture; Aesthetic Rebels; Constructing Reality; Cross-Cultural Diversity; and Religion and the Environment