Your freshman year at Governors State University is no ordinary first year of college. It is designed to give you a foundation on which to build during your college career and for life after GSU. As part of a challenging academic community, you’ll learn strategies and skills to become a critical thinker. You’ll become confident in your abilities as a student and as a member of a diverse community.

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You will be part of one of three Big Ideas that are the focus and theme of your general education program:

  • Civic Engagement
  • Global Citizenship
  • Sustainability

You’ll find yourself in classes with others pursuing your theme during your first and second years.  Each theme incorporates values-based education, helps you explore various careers and encourages you to take a world view as you choose your major.

Learning Community Themes


Civic Engagement:  Click here for Intro Video >>>

The founders of our nation had some big ideas. Students in this theme group will dig deep into those ideas and learn more about what democracy means. Your courses will focus on the value of human dignity, tolerance, justice, ethical integrity and freedom. You’ll develop important skills in thinking critically, deliberating and making collaborative decisions about important questions. You’ll develop ability for moral discernment, civility, compromise and mutual respect for others.

Global Citizenship: Click here for Intro Video >>>

Ours is a diverse, interconnected world. Students in this theme group will look into the forces that drive both collaboration and conflict among nations. You’ll study the global influences that explain how we all work together – or not – including social, technological and environment trends.

Sustainability: Click here for Intro Video >>>

You have a role in protecting the health and vitality of the planet. Students in this theme group will concentrate on important issues that will prepare you for that role. You’ll learn what it means to be responsible in how we manage our resources. You’ll also look into the environmental, economic and social implications of what it takes to be a good steward.

Learning Community Benefits
No matter in which theme group you join, there is more built into your first year to help you succeed.

  • Classes are small. Only 90 students in each of the three theme course groups, with 30 students in most classes.
  • All first year classes are taught by experienced faculty members.

General Education Requirements for Students Admitted as Freshmen

To help you envision how you’ll succeed at GSU, this chart shows the courses that will be included for each themed group (credit hours in parenthesis):

Civic Engagement Cohort Courses:

Fall, 1st yearSpring, 1st yearFall, 2nd year
HIST 1110: History of the US to 1865 (3)POLS 2100; Foundations of American Democracy (3)ECON 2302: Macroeconomics (3)
ENGL 1000: Writing Studies I (3)  ENGL 1010: Writing Studies II (3) COMS 1160: Public Discourse (3)
FYS 1001: First Year Seminar: Interdisciplinary Humanities (3)ART 1100: Intro to Visual & Performing Arts (3)PSYC 1101: Principles of Psychology (3)

Global Citizenship Cohort Courses:

Fall, 1st yearSpring, 1st yearFall, 2nd year
ANTH 1100: Cultural Anthropology (3)PSYC 1101: Principles of Psychology (3)GBLS 2100: Cross Cultural Relationships (3)
ENGL 1000: Writing Studies I (3)ENGL 1010: Writing Studies II (3)COMS 1160: Public Discourse (3)
FYS 1001: First Year Seminar: Interdisciplinary Humanities (3)HIST 2710: World History since 1500 (3) MUS 1500: Non-Western Music (3)


Sustainability Cohort Courses:

Fall, 1st yearSpring, 1st yearFall, 2nd year
GEOG 1100: Geography of the Non-Western World (3)PSYC 1101: Introduction to Philosophy (3)SOC 1100: Introduction to Sociology (3)
ENGL 1000: Writing Studies I (3) ENGL 1010: Writing Studies II (3)COMS 1160: Public Discourse (3)
FYS 1001: First Year Seminar: Interdisciplinary Humanities (3)ANTH 1100: Cultural Anthropology (3) ART 1100: Art Appreciation (3)

Additional General Education courses, taken outside your themed group include:

  • One Math (Statistics, Applied Calculus or Calculus) course (3 credits)
  • One Physical Science course (3 credits)
  • One Life Science course (3 credits)
  • One Laboratory course tied to either the Physical or Life Science course (1-2 credits)
  • Junior Seminar in your major (3 credits)
  • Senior Capstone in your major (3 credits)