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  • Policy Number: SP.20.006
  • Version:
  • Drafted By:
  • Approved By: Academic Senate
  • Approval Date: May 11, 2021
  • Effective Date: Fall 2021
  • Supercedes: SP.16.011


To revise university policy on general education course characteristics to align with the CSU systemwide Executive Order (EO) on CSU General Education Breath Requirements (12/3/2020), and to have all mention of general education units point to CSU system-wide policy, removing the need for updates should general education unit-distribution change. This policy supersedes SP 16-11.


The current university policy on general education course characteristics (a) does not include recently added lower-division General Education requirement in Area F Ethnic Studies as defined in the revision to the EO regarding CSU General Education Breadth Requirements (12/3/2020) and (b) includes unit requirements for each general education area that does not reflect the recent changes in the system-wide
policy. This update incorporates the new Area F requirement, removes the unit requirements in the University-level policy, and incorporates the CSU system-wide policy’s unit requirements by reference only (removing the need to update this policy should unit requirements change in the future).



General Education Committee, Academic Policy & Planning Committee, and Academic Affairs


All Undergraduate Students




General Education CSU Unit Requirements

  1. The General Education unit requirements at California State University Channel Islands shall be those described in the CSU General Education Breadth Requirements and amendments, as updated.
  2. In the event a new CSU system-wide General Education requirement is added, the General Education Committee will determine the learning outcomes necessary for a course to meet the new requirements as aligned with CSU policies until the policy stated here can be updated to reflect the new requirement and its outcomes.
  3. If the policy contained here conflicts at any time with the CSU General Education Breadth Requirements and amendments, the latter CSU-wide policy supersedes and replaces this policy for undergraduate students until this policy is amended to remove any conflict.

General Education CSU Area Descriptions
CSU Area A: English Language Communication and Critical Thinking

Courses in area A approach communication as the human process of symbolic interaction, with a focus on formulation and analysis of those interactions. Students learn how to discover, evaluate and report information, how to reason inductively and deductively, and they develop the ability to distinguish matters of fact from matters of judgment or opinion. Courses in areas A1 and A2 emphasize the content and form of both oral and written communication in the English language, including exploration of the psychological basis and the social significance of communication, and an understanding of how language works in diverse situations. Through active participation in written and oral communication, students develop the skills necessary for effective speaking, listening, writing, and reasoning. Modes of argument, rhetorical perspectives, and an understanding of the relationship of language to logic are stressed in all area A courses. 

Area A1 Oral Communication courses shall:

  • Focus on communication in the English language.
  • Focus on the formulation and analysis of human interaction.
  • Address modes of argument, rhetorical perspectives, and the relationship of language to logic.
  • Include exploration of the psychological basis and social significance of communication.
  • Require significant oral presentation.
  • Focus on oral as well as written communication, listening and reasoning.
  • Have an outcome aligned with General Education Goal 4 Learning Outcome 4.1: “Speak and present effectively in various contexts.”

Area A2 Written Communication courses shall:

  • Focus on communication in the English language.
  • Focus on the formulation and analysis of human interaction.
  • Address modes of argument, rhetorical perspectives, and the relationship of language to logic.
  • Include exploration of the psychological basis and social significance of communication.
  • Address writing as a process of human interaction.
  • Prepare the student for college level writing.
  • Have an outcome aligned with General Education Goal 4 Learning Outcome 4.2: “Write effectively in various forms.”

Area A3 Critical Thinking courses shall:

  • Prepare the student to use reasoning of both inductive and deductive types.
  • Focus on the analysis of written, oral, visual and/or symbolic communication.
  • Prepare the student to assess common fallacies in reasoning.
  • Address modes of argument, rhetorical perspectives, and the relationship of language to logic.
  • Prepare the student to practice the discovery, critical evaluation, and reporting of information.
  • Have an outcome aligned with General Education Goal 2 and/or Goal 3 Learning Outcomes.
    • Outcome 2.1 Reason inductively and deductively and from a variety of perspectives.
    • Outcome 2.2 Deliberate with others and present arguments clearly, logically, and creatively.
    • Outcome 3.1 Access needed information effectively and efficiently.
    • Outcome 3.2 Evaluate information and its sources critically.
    • Outcome 3.3 Explain the economic, legal, social, and ethical issues surrounding the use of information.

CSU Area B: Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning

Courses in this area explore the scope and major concepts of mathematics and/or scientific disciplines. In the sciences, the intent is to present the principles and concepts which form the foundations of living or non-living systems. The focus of all courses in Area B is on the presentation and evaluation of evidence and argument, the appreciation of use/misuse of data, and the organization of information in quantitative, technological or other formal systems. Students are introduced to the principles and practices that underscore mathematical and scientific inquiry (logic, precision, hypothesis generation and evaluation, experimentation and objectivity) and gain an understanding of the process by which new knowledge is created, organized, accessed, and synthesized. Students improve their reasoning skills (critical thinking, problem-solving, decision making, analysis and synthesis), and apply information and technology to the understanding of complex and diverse problems in mathematics and the sciences. They become aware of the influence and significance of mathematics and the sciences in world civilization.  

All Area B courses shall:

  • Promote the understanding and appreciation of the methodologies of mathematics or science as investigative tools and the limitations of mathematical or scientific endeavors.
  • Present mathematical or scientific knowledge in a historical perspective and the influences of mathematics or science on the development of world civilizations, both past and present.
  • Apply inductive and deductive reasoning processes and explore fallacies and misconceptions in the mathematical or scientific areas.
  • Have an outcome aligned with General Education Goal 5 Learning Outcomes.
    • Outcome 5.1 Conduct planned investigations using the scientific method to reach reasoned conclusions.
    • Outcome 5.2 Solve problems using mathematical methods.
    • •Outcome 5.3 Use graphs, tables, etc. to represent and explain scientific and mathematical models.
    • Outcome 5.4 Make connections between important/core/key concepts (or big ideas) in the natural sciences to describe/explain natural phenomena.

Area B1 Physical Sciences courses shall:

  • Present the principles and concepts of the physical sciences and the physical universe.

Area B2 Life Sciences courses shall:

  • Present the principles and concepts that form the foundation of living systems.

Area B3 Laboratory Activity courses shall:

  • Meet for a minimum of two hours per week.
  • Involve practical applications and problems related to the foundations of either living systems or the physical universe.
  • Involve the analysis of data, either acquired or simulated.
  • Provide students with practice in the use of scientific methodologies.
  • Include both individual and collaborative learning.

Area B4 Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning courses shall teach skills and practices involving:

  • the ability to read, comprehend, interpret, and communicate quantitative information in various contexts in a variety of formats;
  • the ability to reason with and make inferences from quantitative information in order to solve problems arising in personal, civic, and professional contexts;
  • the ability to use quantitative methods to assess the reasonableness of proposed solutions to quantitative problems; and
  • the ability to recognize the limits of quantitative methods.
  • Quantitative reasoning depends on the methods of computation, logic, mathematics, and statistics.

CSU Area C: Arts and Humanities

The courses in this area enable students to develop a basic appreciation of the human imagination and understand the value of personal creativity in a complex, global society. Exposure to a diverse range of work in art, literature, languages, and cultures cultivates the student's ability to express intellectual and emotional responses and make subjective and objective evaluations. Awareness of diverse cultural contributions, in both historical and contemporary work, stresses the interrelationship between individual aesthetics and collective human sensibility. Numerous teaching methodologies involve active participation in the creative experience, leading to personal inquiries into the cultural diversity prevalent in the visual, literary, audible, kinetic, and oral traditions of human expression. Courses satisfying the language graduation requirement may count in this area. 

All Category C courses shall:

  • Develop students' ability to respond subjectively as well as objectively to experience.
  • Cultivate and refine students' affective, cognitive, and physical faculties through studying great works of the human imagination.
  • Increase awareness and appreciation in the traditional humanistic disciplines such as art, dance, drama, language, literature, music, and philosophy.
  • Examine the interrelationship between the creative arts, the humanities, and self.
  • Include an exposure to cultures of the world.
  • Have an outcome aligned with General Education Goal 6 Learning Outcomes.
    • Outcome 6.1 Analyze creative human products and ideas.
    • Outcome 6.2 Articulate personal thoughts and emotions when encountering human creations and ideas.
    • Outcome 6.3 Create original and imaginative works in philosophy, literature, language, and/or the arts.

Area Cl Arts: Arts, Cinema, Dance, Music, Theater courses shall:

  • Impart knowledge and appreciation of the visual and performing arts.
  • Promote students' ability to effectively analyze and respond to works of human imagination

Area C2 Humanities: Literature, Philosophy, Languages Other than English courses shall:

  • Involve the student with literary and philosophical works.
  • Promote students' ability to effectively analyze and respond to works of human imagination.
  • Require substantive critical/analytical writing.
  • Include a cultural component and not solely skills acquisition (for courses in languages other than English).
  • Include human to human communication (for courses in languages other than English).

CSU Area D: Social Sciences

The courses in this area enhance student knowledge of the complex cultural and institutional world in which we live. Each course examines relationships among various cultures and institutions that shape our social, economic, psychological, and political realities. Using the lenses of the social sciences, students gain insight and understanding of the social, political, historical, economic, educational or behavioral aspects of world cultures and systems, including the ways in which these interact and influence each other. Courses satisfying the American Ideals Title 5 requirement may count in this area. 

All Category D courses shall:

  • Promote understanding of how the issues relevant to social, political, contemporary/historical, economic, educational or psychological realities interact with each other within the realm of human experience.
  • Focus on how a social science discipline conceives and studies human existence.
  • Address issues using the methods commonly employed by a social science discipline.
  • Have an outcome aligned with at least on of General Education Goal 7 Learning Outcomes:
    • Outcome 7.1 Convey how issues relevant to social, cultural, political,
      contemporary/historical, economic, educational, or psychological realities interact with each other.
    • Outcome 7.2 Discuss how social sciences conceive and study human experience.
    • Outcome 7.3 Use social science methods to explain or predict individual and collective human behavior.

CSU Area E: Life-long Learning and Self-Development

Area E courses are designed to equip learners for lifelong understanding and development of themselves as integrated physiological, social, and psychological beings. Student learning in this area shall include selective consideration of content such as human behavior, sexuality, nutrition, physical and mental health, stress management, financial literacy, technological literacy, social relationships and relationships with the environment, as well as implications of death and dying and avenues for lifelong learning. Physical activity may be included, provided that it is an integral part of the study elements described herein.

CSU Area F: Ethnic Studies

The courses in this area shall meet at least three of the following five core competencies as defined by the CSU General Education Breadth requirements:

  • Analyze and articulate concepts such as race and racism, racialization, ethnicity, equity, ethnocentrism, 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.

General Education CI Mission Category Descriptions

Mission Category MP Multicultural Perspectives

Category MP courses shall:

  • Explore the interrelatedness and intersection of race and ethnicity with class, gender and sexuality and other forms of difference, hierarchy, and oppression.
  • Engage social justice, indigeneity, transnational, transborder, and global issues, appreciating identities and situations as diasporic communities, and as interrelated realities in American society.
  • Have an outcome aligned with General Education Learning Outcome 1.1a: “Integrate content, ideas, and approaches from multicultural perspectives.”

Mission Category IP International Perspectives

Category IP courses shall:

  • Examine causes and effects of historical and contemporary global challenges/issues/problems, within and across national boundaries.
  • Foster understanding of how personal actions and political, social, and economic institutions affect both local and global communities and identities.
  • Address pressing and enduring world issues collaboratively and equitably, with consideration of cultural differences and power dynamics.
  • Have an outcome aligned with General Education Learning Outcome 1.1b: “Integrate content, ideas, and approaches from national and international perspectives.”

Mission Category IA Interdisciplinary Approaches

To be considered an "interdisciplinary" course, the syllabus must show that the course is an "integrative course with significant content, ideas, and ways of knowing from more than one discipline." Each of these courses will involve the student in critical thinking and integration of ideas. Instructors are encouraged to develop courses in which students from different majors share perspectives, methodologies, and expertise. Students will begin to make connections between their majors and at least two disciplines and ways of knowing, increasing both their knowledge and their ability to communicate with people across the disciplinary spectrum.

Category IA courses shall:

  • Emphasize interdisciplinarity by integrating content, ideas, and approaches from two or more disciplines
  • Have an outcome aligned with General Education Learning Outcome 1.1c: “Integrate content, ideas, and approaches from integrative perspectives across disciplines.”

Mission Category CE: Community Engagement 

Community Engagement courses engage students in service learning, a teaching and learning approach that integrates community service with academic study to enrich learning, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities, while engaging students in reflection upon what was experienced, how the community was benefited, and what was learned.

Category CE courses shall:

  • Serve a genuine community need.
  • Integrate course learning and teaching objectives with the service-learning activities.
  • Provide activities to engage students in reflection about the service experience and the achievement of learning outcomes.
  • Generate for each student, before placement, a Student Learning Plan, signed by the student, faculty instructor and authorized Community Organization (“CO”) representative, that identifies course goals and risks.
  • Complete feedback forms on the value and effectiveness of the service-learning experience from the perspective of the student, faculty instructor and CO.
  • Provide a description of the service-learning component of the class in the syllabus, stating service learning is a required component and what percentage of the course grade the service-learning component comprises.
  • Have an outcome aligned with General Education Learning Outcome 1.2: “Take individual and collective actions which can address issues of public concern.”


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