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General Education Curriculum

A liberal arts education is typically characterized by the development of broad intellectual and cultural interests and by the achievement of a significant body of skills and knowledge. It is the particular responsibility of a general education curriculum to address the first of these goals-the broadening of students' interests-while also laying the foundation for the acquisition of advanced skills and deeper knowledge within optional areas of concentration, normally defined as majors.

So it is at the University of Richmond, where a distinctive general education curriculum has been designed to provide a stimulating and challenging introduction to collegiate life through first year seminar courses; to establish the basic prerequisites of productive scholarship through a set of communication skills requirements; to convey the basic knowledge and habits needed to live a healthy life through wellness requirements; and to familiarize students in a meaningful way with some of the major approaches to intellectual and cultural life through a series of fields of study requirements.

This curriculum is offered by a faculty that sees general education as fundamental to its mission. Through its various general education courses, the faculty intends to incorporate each and every student into a community of learners who value and practice the life of the mind. Beginning with their general education courses and continuing through the courses in their major, their elective courses, and their various co-curricular and extra-curricular learning experiences, University of Richmond students are expected to develop their ability to think critically and independently, to learn to tolerate ambiguity where true ambiguity exists, and to grow in their respect for-and their ability to deal with-the kinds of multiplicity that characterize our complex world. The common goal of the University's faculty is the education of independent, responsible, and contributing members of society.

In addition to the fundamental educational experiences represented by these requirements, the faculty recognizes that thoughtful reflection upon an even wider range of topics and issues-pertaining to gender, race, ethics, international perspectives, and other matters-is an important component in the education of Richmond students. While some of these topics and issues may be addressed in one or another course in the general education curriculum, the faculty feels strongly that they are best treated-sometimes focally, sometimes incidentally-within many different courses, outside as well as inside that curriculum. By addressing them in a variety of ways, from a variety of viewpoints, and with a variety of voices across the entire curriculum, the faculty as a whole will insure that students are aware of the many complex and serious ways in which these issues touch their lives and the lives of others.

Note: Courses meeting general education requirements are denoted with the appropriate code following the course description in the catalog, as well as in the semester list of classes. The codes are as follows:

  • COM1 - Communication Skills - Expository Writing (students entering prior to fall 2010 only)
  • COM2 - Communication Skills - Foreign Language
  • FSHT - Field of Study: Historical Studies
  • FSLT - Field of Study: Literary Studies
  • FSNB - Field of Study: Natural Science, Biological Sciences*
  • FSNC - Field of Study: Natural Science, Chemistry*
  • FSNP - Field of Study: Natural Science, Physics*
  • FSSA - Field of Study: Social Analysis
  • FSSR - Field of Study: Symbolic Reasoning
  • FSVP - Field of Study: Visual and Performing Arts
  • FYS - First-Year Seminar (students entering fall 2010 and later only)

* Students may select 1 unit from the three natural science fields of study (FSNB, FSNC, or FSNP) offered.