National Tsing Hua University’s Center for General Education（CGE, NTHU）traces its origins to the Common Courses program, which before 1980 was no more than a group of loosely organized academic seminars. In 1985, the Common Courses became an administrative unit on equal standing with academic departments; and after nearly a decade of development, its educational mission gradually expanded to include various areas of the university’s general education curriculum. Subsequently, in 1989, the University renamed it “Center for General Education”, and it became an administrative unit charged with planning and implementing the general education curriculum. This restructuring was the first of its type in Taiwan. Today, the University’s Center for General Education has been in existence for more than twenty years.
To further advance the University’s general education program, the Center enacted a core curriculum in general education in 2001, marking the first time such a reform had been undertaken in Taiwan. After four years (2002 to 2005) of planning and one year of experimental implementation, the intermediate objective of establishing a seven-dimension core curriculum was completed. In 2006, this curriculum was formally instituted, and a number of tertiary educational institutions followed the University’s lead, making the program one of the most emulated approaches to general education curriculum in higher education in Taiwan.
The full-time faculty of the Center have long served as advocates for, and consultants to, general education, exploring the issues of how to best realize the general principles of education which reflect the goals of the University. Through continual effort and innovation, the Center for General Education has over time established itself as a trail blazing leader among general education programs in higher education in Taiwan.
General education is meant to span ancient wisdom and modern discoveries, bringing knowledge of both nature and civilization to students at the University, in order to cultivate citizens useful to society. The mission of the University’s general education program has always been to honor the University’s spirit. The implementation of the core curriculum program of general education was motivated by the hope of living up to the University’s motto and academic traditions, exemplifying and crystallizing the core values of the University’s approach to education.
To promote the University’s motto of “develop self constantly, treat all beings kindly” and its tradition of facilitating dialog between the humanities and hard sciences, the Center for General Education has established three central aims:
1. To promote the spirit of Tsing Hua: while pursuing conventional scholarship in the fields covering the entire spectrum of disciplines from traditional to modern and from humanities to hard sciences, the center encourages innovative exploration in these fields.
2. To implement the educational ideal of student-centered education: the center designs courses rich enough to nurture the multiple intelligences of the students.
3. To face global competition: the center focuses on the key concepts of globalism, local culture, and dialogue between them, to promote an understanding of multiculturalism, and to encourage social care and action.
In keeping up with the aims described above, the Center for General Education has designated six dimensions of competence that are to be actualized by the design of the curriculum of general education in order to cultivate a range of diverse skills of Tsing Hua students. These six dimensions of competence are: 1. Self-awareness, expressions & communication; 2. Logical reasoning & critical thinking; 3. Scientific thinking & reflection; 4. Aesthetic & humanistic literacy; 5. Information technology & media literacy; 6. Diverse views & social practices.
The diagram below illustrates these areas:
In addition to recruiting more faculty for the core curriculum program of general education, the Center will continue to devote its efforts to reforming and refining the general education curriculum during the academic year, with an operational focus on the following:
- Through the implementation of the regulation “On the Essential Elements of the General Education Curriculum in the Field of Natural Sciences to be Taught in the Colleges of the National Tsing Hua University”, more professors from departments of natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering, will be encouraged to open general education courses in the respective disciplines for the students with the background in social sciences and humanities and to prepare teaching materials for these courses.
- The center will promote courses with an emphasis on action-oriented learning and/or problem solving, cultivating a variety of skills which students will require as they confront an era in which both global competition and cooperation are vital. The Center for General Education is utilizing the expertise of full-time faculty to develop programs in artistic creativity and psychological counseling with the aim of offering general education with a more professional orientation.
- The center will promote broadly-conceived general education by using a rich variety of activities, such as the Tsing Hua Residential College, the Arts Studio, campus arts and culture lecture series, and the international volunteer program, to attract a larger number of faulty members to participate in the effort to expand students horizons and to encourage their personal growth.
- The center will coordinate with the University System of Taiwan（UST）to promote inter-institutional distance learning initiatives in general education and in academic life.
- General education courses in English will be designed and implemented in order to satisfy the educational needs of international students.