This booklet (click on the right to explore) shows the major developments in Geneseo’s general education requirements from 1948 to 1982, including the years in which Geneseo transitioned to a liberal arts college.


Before 1962, course requirements were listed entirely by program, as can be seen in pages 2-26 of the booklet. In the years prior to 1955, the curricula of each program (at this point, all education programs) did not make any mention of specific general education requirements, but required courses such as “Appreciation of the Arts” and “General Geography I,” from the 1948-49 General Catalogue (pages 1-4 of the booklet), were similar to subjects that were later required in the college-wide core curriculum.

Beginning with the 1955-56 Bulletin, each program listed its own general education requirements. While the subjects required were mostly the same–Art, English, Health and Physical Education, Music, Science, Social Studies, Speech and Dramatic Arts (not required for the Speech Correction and Speech and Dramatic Arts programs), as well as free electives–the semester hours of credits required overall and for each individual subject varied across the four programs offered that year. The greatest variation was in the hours of free electives required: nineteen were required for the General Elementary program, thirteen for the Special Education program, four for the Speech Correction program, and two for the Speech and Dramatic Arts program (booklet 11-14). The hours of English required also varied.

In the 1956-58 General Catalog (booklet 15-26), the program requirements were laid out in the same manner. A mathematics requirement was added to some programs, including Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education. There was still variation in general education requirements by each program.

The 1962-63 academic year marked Geneseo’s first as a liberal arts college. As a part of the transition to the liberal arts, a college-wide Common Core was established. The core included Science, Social Studies, English, Fine Arts, Speech, Philosophy or Mathematics, General Psychology, Foreign Languages, and Health and Physical Education (booklet 28-29).

The Common Core was first revised in 1967, with the revision appearing in the 1967-68 Bulletin (booklet 31-32). Changes included delineating Writing and Speech–Oral Communications as areas in which “all students are to demonstrate proficiency to graduate” (31). Students were able to meet the requirement through examinations when entering the college or by taking one course in each subject. The rest of the core was referred to as “general distribution requirements,” and these requirements were laid out in numbers of courses required rather than semester hours. In a rationale for these revisions presented at a Faculty Senate meeting on January 13th, 1967, faculty members in favor of the new core described its potential benefits for students:

“The essential ways of knowing are those of science, social organization, and art plus the overreaching one of philosophy and the underlining one of communication. All are mandated in the program. The student is offered his “last chance” at mastering the skills in speaking, listening, reading, writing, and observing. When there is no need for them, time spent on them is in effect misappropriated; hence the provision for proficiency examinations. Skills of the mind are rightly paralleled by those of the body, furthered and diversified through physical education. And, there are safeguards against overspecialization.”

The revised Common Core printed in the 1980-82 Bulletin (booklet 38-39) was the result of several years worth of discussion and debate in the Faculty Senate. The Core on these pages is recognizable to current students at Geneseo. Read more about the development of this Common Core here.

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