Apr 17, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

General Education: The Human Community

Margaret M. Mulrooney, Senior Associate Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Equity

Mission Statement

In the liberal arts tradition, General Education: The Human Community aspires to create informed global citizens of the 21st century.

James Madison University’s General Education program is committed to creating an equitable and inclusive academic environment for all persons. We affirm that equity advances understanding and is integral to a liberal arts education. We acknowledge the history of exclusion and inequity nationally and at James Madison University. We embrace the process of making JMU’s General Education program accessible, affirming, and action-oriented.

By placing inclusion and equity at the center of our mission, we seek to implement strategies and diversity policies that reimagine the relevance of a liberal arts education. We challenge our community of students, faculty, and staff to engage in personal and collective reflection, development, and action.


General Education: The Human Community is the core academic program of James Madison University in which students come to understand how distinct disciplines look at the world from different vantage points. Courses in The Human Community are organized into five clusters, each emphasizing unique tools, rationales and methodologies. Taken together, courses in a student’s chosen major and The Human Community complement and complete each other. Both are integral and essential components of a student’s full and proper education.


Students understand the historical and contemporary distinctions and interconnections among people, institutions and communities that create, preserve and transmit culture and knowledge in the arts, sciences, mathematics, social sciences and humanities.

Students become skilled in questioning, investigating, analyzing, evaluating and communicating.

Students participate in a variety of aesthetic and civic experiences reflecting human concerns and values that transcend the limits of specialization.


The Human Community credit hour requirements are:

Cluster Credit Hours  
Cluster One: Skills for the 21st Century   9 Credit Hours
Cluster Two: Arts and Humanities   9 Credit Hours
Cluster Three: The Natural World   10 Credit Hours
Cluster Four: Social and Cultural Processes   7 Credit Hours
Cluster Five: Individuals in the Human Community   6 Credit Hours

  Total: 41 Credit Hours

General Education Courses

General Education Cluster Areas Search Code
Cluster One: Critical Thinking C1CT
Cluster One: Human Communication C1HC
Cluster One: Writing C1W
Cluster Two: Human Questions and Contexts C2HQC
Cluster Two: Visual and Performing Arts C2VPA
Cluster Two: Literature C2L
Cluster Three: Quantitative Reasoning C3QR
Cluster Three: Physical Principles C3PP
Cluster Three: Natural Systems C3NS
Cluster Four: The American Experience C4AE
Cluster Four: The Global Experience C4GE
Cluster Five: Wellness Domain C5W
Cluster Five: Sociocultural Domain C5SD


Cluster Two: Arts and Humanities Courses

Cluster Three: The Natural World Courses

Physical Principles

In this area, students study underlying principles of nature. These principles are applied to build models, often quantitative in nature, that explore and explain a variety of natural phenomena.

Natural Systems

Students study the behavior of earth and life systems. Students will investigate interactions within these systems, between the systems and their environment, and with society.

Lab Experience

This area emphasizes the observational and experimental nature of science. Through hands-on experiential learning, students will make observations and use them to test predictions and hypotheses.

  • Physical Principles or Natural Systems course with a lab included, or: