The primary goal of the General Education curriculum is to integrate the Christian faith with all areas of learning and to serve as a foundational area of study for all learners. Our mission further includes the integration of several elements that are often separated in contemporary academia:

  • the great fields of learning—humanities, social and natural sciences, the arts, and pre-professional studies—to emphasize the interdependence of knowledge;
  • the many aspects of being human as individual persons and members of societies—to seek wholeness in one’s development and maturation;
  • Western and non-Western cultural perspectives—to communicate both the differences and similarities in their histories and worldviews and the understanding of diversity amid commonality;
  • the study of the dominant ideas of many cultures with the firsthand experience of interacting with those cultures—to cultivate empathy and depth of understanding; and
  • the perspectives of history with the shaping of the present and near future—to cultivate a sense of an “extended present” with the grasp of the movement of time and the impacts of human choices on the generations that follow.

To enhance such integration, major themes have been organized into four pillars, each of which includes a variety of courses designed to develop specific knowledge, skills, and values. The four pillars of Personal Development; Biblical Foundations; Math, Science, and Technology; and Global Perspectives are complemented by an off-campus cross-cultural experience and a capstone course in contemporary Christian issues.

The four General Education pillars comprise both specific courses that all students take and categories from which students choose courses. General Education courses are arranged in a unified and developmental sequence spread through all four years of study and culminate in a capstone course. Some General Education requirements during the first two years of study may be met by completing one of two options. Students may choose to complete their off-campus cross-cultural experience through a designated course or off-campus program or through an approved non-credit experience at various times during their course of study at Bethel. A limited number of courses can be used to meet both General Education requirements and the requirements for a major or minor. (See list of requirements for each major or minor in the appropriate departmental section of the catalog.)

Course and category names listed below, as well as their descriptions, reflect the requirements of the General Education curriculum. General Education category names are followed by category designator letters (e.g., D, M, N). These same designator letters are used throughout the catalog to identify courses meeting General Education category requirements. The following suffix code is used for General Education categories:

A Artistic Experience
D Laboratory
G Comparative Systems
J Interpreting Biblical Themes
K Science, Technology, and Society
L Contemporary Western Life and Thought
M Mathematics
N Nature of Persons
P Contemporary Christian Issues
Q Leisure and Lifetime Sport
S Second Language
U World Cultures
Z Cross-cultural Experience

There is never a case where a current Bethel course may substitute for a General Education requirement. If the current Bethel course is a General Education course, it should be approved through the normal curriculum process. Until that happens, there will be no exception made to this. No petitions to substitute a current non-General Education Bethel course for a General Education requirement will be approved.