General Education and All-University Requirements (GEAR)

The GEAR Curriculum and Assessment Committee is a subcommittee of the Integrated Curriculum Committee (ICC). The table below identifies current membership. You may submit comments or questions regarding GEAR committee activities or general education assessment at any time to Jill Anderson, committee chair.

GEAR Committee Membership
GEAR Course Proposals

GEAR course proposals, whether for new courses or for new GEAR certification of existing courses, are submitted through Curriculog. You will be asked to submit two forms.

  • GEAR course proposal (coming soon)
  • GEAR PLO assessment plan (coming soon)
Proposals to Satisfy a GEAR Upper-Division Requirement through Course of Study

HSU Senate Resolution 08-08/09-EP allows completion of a program of study in a major to fulfill the requirements of the upper division GEAR Area B, C, or D.

Forms for proposals to satisfy an upper division requirement through course of study will be available here after they are updated in light of the new GEAR program learning outcomes.

  • Area B (coming soon)
  • Area C (coming soon)
  • Area D (coming soon)
GEAR Recertification

In an effort to gradually bring all GEAR courses into alignment with the new system of GEAR learning assessment, beginning in 2021-2022, the GEAR committee will commence a process of recertifying current GEAR courses that will unfold over the course of several academic years. Check back here as details emerge.

GEAR Program Learning Outcomes and Assessment

In line with university continuous-improvement efforts, through the work of the GEAR committee, the provost’s council of chairs, and numerous faculty across the university, new GEAR program learning outcomes were approved by the university senate in spring 2020.

The goal of the GEAR program is to provide broad opportunities for the development of foundational skills, disciplinary knowledge, and diverse perspectives that are critical to the success of students through their educational journey at Humboldt State University and as lifelong learners.

The GEAR program learning outcomes (PLOs) are organized into three categories, foundational skills, disciplinary knowledge, and broad perspectives. They describe assessable behaviors that are much broader in focus than the myriad course-level learning outcomes developed by the faculty members and/or department committees that determine individual GEAR-course curricula across the university.

As part of the university’s comprehensive assessment plan, each GEAR course shall:

  1. target a specific GEAR PLO (though course content may address more than one PLO, of course);
  2. feature a student learning outcome (SLO) that describes what students will do to demonstrate the PLO;
  3. include a signature assignment, which is an assignment of program faculty’s design that can be used to measure student progress toward the identified PLO; and
  4. identify an assessment tool (e.g. rubric) that will be used to score the signature assignment.

Individual GEAR courses address the content guidelines identified in the dropdowns below, and many of these courses will certainly address several of the PLOs. However, from the perspective of university-wide learning assessment, by asking each GEAR course to target just one of the PLOs via a specific SLO developed by faculty invested in the course, we are building the infrastructure to measure how well our students are achieving the GEAR PLOs.

From its broadest perspective, the learning goal of the GEAR program is that students will be able to demonstrate each of the PLOs upon completing the curriculum. Needless to say, the more that we can enrich these abilities in students’ major courses of study, the more students will graduate from HSU with the skills, knowledge, and perspectives that we value most highly at HSU.

CSU General Education Requirements

Section 40405 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations states that the purpose of the breadth requirements is to provide means whereby graduates will have

  1. achieved the ability to think clearly and logically, to find and critically examine information, to communicate orally and in writing, and to perform quantitative functions;
  2. acquired appreciable knowledge about their own bodies and minds, about how human society has developed and how it now functions, about the physical world in which they live, about the other forms of life with which they share that world, and about the cultural endeavors and legacies of their civilizations; and
  3. come to an understanding and appreciation of the principles, methodologies, value systems, and thought processes employed in human inquiries.

CSUs must plan and organize the general education-breadth requirements in such a manner that students will acquire the suggested abilities, knowledge, understanding, and appreciation as interrelated elements, not as isolated fragments.

The breadth of CSU general education requirements is detailed in Executive Order 1100. As of fall 2021, these include six subject areas of study:

Area A: English Language Communication and Critical Thinking

Area A: English Language Communication and Critical Thinking

Area A Written and Oral Communication courses develop knowledge and understanding of the form, content, context, and effectiveness of communication (EO 1100). Students in these courses will

  • examine communication from the rhetorical perspective;
  • practice reasoning, advocacy, organization, and accuracy; and
  • enhance their skills and abilities in the discovery, critical evaluation, and reporting of information.

Area A Critical Thinking courses develop abilities to analyze, criticize, and advocate ideas; to reason inductively and deductively; and to reach well-supported factual or judgmental conclusions (EO 1100). Students in these courses will study

  • logic and its relation to language;
  • elementary inductive and deductive processes, including the formal and informal fallacies of language and thought; and
  • how to distinguish matters of fact from issues of judgment or opinion.

Area B: Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning

Area B: Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning

Area B Life Forms and Physical Universe courses develop knowledge of scientific theories, concepts, and data about both living and nonliving systems. Students will work to understand and appreciate scientific principles and the scientific method, the potential limits of scientific endeavors, and the value systems and ethics associated with human inquiry. (EO 1100)

Thus, these Area B courses should guide students toward the following skills:

  • apply scientific concepts and theories to develop scientific explanations of natural phenomena;
  • critically evaluate conclusions drawn from a particular set of observations or experiments; and
  • demonstrate their understanding of the science field under study through proper use of the technical/scientific language, and the development, interpretation, and application of concepts.

Area B Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning courses develop abilities to reason quantitatively, practice computational skills, and explain and apply mathematical or quantitative reasoning concepts to solve problems. (EO 1100)

Thus, Area B Math/QR courses should guide students toward the following skills:

  • demonstrate the abilities to reason quantitatively, practice computational skills, and explain and apply mathematical or quantitative reasoning concepts to solve problems.

Area C: Arts and Humanities

Area C: Arts and Humanities

Area C courses cultivate intellect, imagination, sensibility, and sensitivity. Students will respond subjectively as well as objectively to aesthetic experiences and will develop an understanding of the integrity of both emotional and intellectual responses. Students will cultivate and refine their affective, cognitive, and physical faculties through studying works of the human imagination. In their intellectual and subjective considerations, students will develop a better understanding of the interrelationship between the self and the creative arts and of the humanities in a variety of cultures. (EO 1100)

Thus, these courses should guide students toward the following skills:

  • apply discipline‐specific vocabulary and central discipline‐specific concepts and principles to a specific instance, literary work, or artistic creation;
  • respond subjectively as well as objectively to aesthetic experiences and differentiate between emotional and intellectual responses;
  • explain the nature and scope of the perspectives and contributions found in a particular discipline within the arts and humanities as related to the human experience, both individually (theirs) and collectively; and
  • demonstrate an understanding of the intellectual, imaginative, and cultural elements involved in the creative arts through their participation in and study of drama, music, studio art, and/or creative writing.

Area D: Social Sciences

Area D: Social Sciences

Students learn from courses in Area D disciplines that human social, political, and economic institutions and behavior are inextricably interwoven. Students will develop an understanding of problems and issues from the respective disciplinary perspectives and will examine issues in their contemporary as well as historical settings and in a variety of cultural contexts. Students will explore the principles, methodologies, value systems and ethics employed in social scientific inquiry. (EO 1100)

Thus, these courses should guide students toward the following skills:

  • apply the discipline-specific vocabulary, principles, methodologies, value systems and ethics employed in social science inquiry, to a specific instance;
  • explain and critically analyze human social, economic, and political issues from the respective disciplinary perspectives by examining them in contemporary as well as historical settings and in a variety of cultural contexts; and
  • illustrate how human social, political, and economic institutions and behavior are inextricably interwoven.

Area E: Lifelong Learning and Self-Development

Area E: Lifelong Learning and Self-Development

Area E Lifelong Learning and Self-Development courses are designed to equip learners for lifelong understanding and development of themselves as integrated physiological, social, and psychological beings. Students will focus on skills, abilities, and dispositions. (EO 1100)

Area F: Ethnic Studies

Area F: Ethnic Studies

Area F Ethnic Studies courses shall guide students toward at least three of the following five core competencies:

  • Analyze and articulate concepts such as race and racism, racialization, ethnicity, equity, ethno-centrism, eurocentrism, white supremacy, self-determination, liberation, decolonization, sovereignty, imperialism, settler colonialism, and anti-racism as analyzed in any one or more of the following: Native American Studies, African American Studies, Asian American Studies, and Latina and Latino American Studies.
  • Apply theory and knowledge produced by Native American, African American, Asian American, and/or Latina and Latino American communities to describe the critical events, histories, cultures, intellectual traditions, contributions, lived-experiences and social struggles of those groups with a particular emphasis on agency and group-affirmation.
  • Critically analyze the intersection of race and racism as they relate to class, gender, sexuality, religion, spirituality, national origin, immigration status, ability, tribal citizenship, sovereignty, language, and/or age in Native American, African American, Asian American, and/or Latina and Latino American communities.
  • Critically review how struggle, resistance, racial and social justice, solidarity, and liberation, as experienced and enacted by Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans and/or Latina and Latino Americans are relevant to current and structural issues such as communal, national, international, and transnational politics as, for example, in immigration, reparations, settler-colonialism, multiculturalism, language policies.
  • Describe and actively engage with anti-racist and anti-colonial issues and the practices and movements in Native American, African American, Asian American and/or Latina and Latino communities and a just and equitable society.

Courses meeting the Area F requirement shall have the following course prefixes: African American, Asian American, Latina/o American or Native American Studies. Similar course prefixes (e.g., Pan-African Studies, American Indian Studies, Chicana/o Studies, Ethnic Studies) shall also meet this requirement. Courses without ethnic studies prefixes may meet this requirement if cross-listed with a course with an ethnic studies prefix.

As described in Article 6, CSU campuses may certify upper-division ethnic studies courses to satisfy the lower-division Area F requirement so long as adequate numbers of lower-division course options are available to students.

As described in Article 2, ethnic studies courses required in majors, minors or that satisfy campus-wide requirements and are approved for GE Area F credit shall also fulfill (double count for) this requirement. (EO1100)

Executive Order 1110

With the issue of Executive Order 1110, the CSU revised the policy for first-year student placement in English (Area A2) and mathematics/quantitative reasoning (Area B4) courses. This strengthened the Early Start program by giving students the opportunity to earn college credit in the summer before their first term and introduced alternative instructional models to support students in credit-bearing courses. “Executive Order 1110 provides for enrollment in appropriate college-level, baccalaureate credit-bearing courses that strengthen skills development to facilitate achieving the appropriate general education student learning outcomes.”

Placement in courses that satisfy A2 or B4 requirements is now based on four categories.

Category I: Has fulfilled the GE Subarea A2 or B4 requirement

  • Student has met the CSU GE Breadth Subarea A2 and/or B4 requirement via Advanced Placement (AP) examination, International Baccalaureate (IB) examination, or transferable course.

Category II: Placement in a GE Subarea A2 or B4 course

  • Student has met examination standards and/or multiple measures-informed standards.

Category III: Recommend placement in a supported GE Subarea A2 or B4 course

  • Based on new multiple measures, student needs additional academic support.
  • Participation in the Early Start program is recommended and may be highly advisable for some students, particularly STEM majors.

Category IV: Require placement in a supported GE Subarea A2 or B4 course or the first term of an applicable stretch course

  • Based on multiple measures, student needs additional academic support.
  • Participation in the Early Start program is required.
HSU All-University Requirements
American Institutions

Section 40404 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations aims to prepare students to contribute to society as responsible and constructive citizens by ensuring that they acquire knowledge and skills that will help them to comprehend the workings of American democracy and of the society in which they live to enable them to contribute to that society as responsible and constructive citizens.

To this end, each campus must provide for a comprehensive study of American history and American government, including the historical development of American institutions and ideals, the Constitution of the United States, the operation of representative democratic government under that Constitution, and the processes of state and local government.

Students at HSU meet this requirement by completing three units in US history and three units in the US and California government. The content of these courses is dictated by Executive Order 1061.

American Institutions

American Institutions

Content of Course and Examination Designated as Meeting Requirements of Section 40404

Any course or examination that addresses the historical development of American institutions and ideals must include all of the subject matter elements identified in the following subparagraphs of this paragraph I.A. Nothing contained herein is intended to prescribe the total content or structure of any course.

  1. Significant events covering a minimum time span of approximately one hundred years and occurring in the entire area now included in the United States of America, including the relationships of regions within that area and with external regions and powers as appropriate to the understanding of those events within the United States during the period under study.
  2. The role of major ethnic and social groups in such events and the contexts in which the events have occurred.
  3. The events presented within a framework that illustrates the continuity of the American experience and its derivation from other cultures, including consideration of three or more of the following: politics, economics, social movements, and geography.

Any course or examination that addresses the Constitution of the United States, the operation of representative democratic government under that Constitution, and the process of California state and local government must address all of the subject matter elements identified in the following subparagraphs of this paragraph I.B. Nothing contained herein is intended to prescribe the total content or structure of any course.

  1. The political philosophies of the framers of the Constitution and the nature and operation of United States political institutions and processes under that Constitution as amended and interpreted.
  2. The rights and obligations of citizens in the political system established under the Constitution.
  3. The Constitution of the state of California within the framework of evolution of federal-state relations and the nature and processes of state and local government under that Constitution.
  4. Contemporary relationships of state and local government with the federal government, the resolution of conflicts and the establishment of cooperative processes under the constitutions of both the state and nation, and the political processes involved.
Diversity and Common Ground

HSU graduates must have completed six units of courses certified as meeting the university’s Diversity and Common Ground (DCG) requirement. The content of these courses focuses on the complexity of diversity through the perspective of differential power and privilege, identity politics, and/or multicultural studies. The recent revision to EO 1100 requiring CSU graduates to demonstrate competency in Ethnic Studies via the new Area F does not affect the six-unit DCG requirement.

Diversity and Common Ground

Diversity and Common Ground

Diversity and Common Ground (DCG) courses guide students toward the ability to analyze the complexity of diversity through the perspective of differential power and privilege, identity politics, and/or multicultural studies.

DCG courses are centrally organized around the aims of one of the four pedagogical models:

A. Multicultural Studies
The educational objectives of this model are for students to

  • comprehend the diversity of knowledge, experiences, values, worldviews, traditions, and achievements represented by the cultures of the United States and/or beyond, and to understand some of the significant ways in which those cultures have interacted with one another;
  • explore and evaluate concrete examples of the student's own cultural heritage in relation to others, and
  • be able to read a culture critically through expressions and representations indigenous and exogenous to that culture.

B. Identity Politics
The educational objectives of this model are for students to 

  • study how various cultural groups have defined their visions of self and other, and of the relationships between self and other;
  • evaluate the complexity and fluidity of social identities, particularly with respect to the intersections of class, ethnicity, disability, gender, nationality, and so on, and
  • understand how cultural differences and identities founded in such categories as age, race, sexuality and so on are produced and perpetuated through a variety of social, cultural, and disciplinary discourses (e.g. literature, popular culture, science, law, etc.)

C. Differential Power and Privilege
The educational objectives of this model are for students to

  • become aware of the causes and effects of structured inequalities and prejudicial exclusion rooted in race, class, gender, etc., and to elucidate broader questions of bias and discrimination as they relate to the exercise and distribution of material and cultural power and privilege;
  • study culturally diverse perspectives on past and present injustice, and on processes leading to a more just and equitable society, and
  • expand the ability to think critically about vital problems and controversies in social, scientific, economic, and cultural life stemming from differences of gender, race, disability, class, etc.

D. Integrative Approach
The integrative approach model will substantively incorporate aims from two or more of the above models.