Reform for general education has been actively underway since the Ministry of Education officially canceled the basic compulsory university courses. The Center for General Education (CGE) of China Medical University was inaugurated in August 1997. The CGE is mainly responsible for the planning and execution of the general education curriculum for the entire university. The Common and General Education Committee, presided by the president of the university, is the highest decision-making directing committee. Under the directions and guidance of the former directors of the Center, the CGE has steadily developed in accordance with its founding principles. Since its inauguration, the CGE has undergone three stages of development: Phase 1 - before the inauguration of the center, Phase 2 - from 1997 to 2006, and Phase 3 - from 2007 up to the present day. After 2015, the direction is oriented towards the strengthening of course consolidation and fostering interdisciplinary knowledge targeted at broadness and extensiveness, which outlines the blueprint for holistic education. Graph 1 summarizes the blueprint.
A. Phase 1 - before the Inauguration of the Center of General Education
- Common Courses Generalized
Starting in the academic year 1994, to meet the requirements of the amendment of common courses proposed by the Ministry of Education, the credits for freshman English and Chinese were reduced from 8 credits to 6 credits per academic year. In the year 1996, the credits of both Chinese and English were further reduced to 4 credits. In the academic year 1994, Chinese was broken into a various elective courses such as ShiShuoXinYu, famous poems, novels, guided readings in Shi-ji, selected selections in different dynasties, and selected prose of Ming and Ching Dynasties. Freshman English was offered as electives in reading skills, practical English, English reading exercises, and Western novels and culture courses. This practice allowed students to choose the courses that were of their own liking, which set the foundation of the future courses in general education for Mandarin and foreign languages.
- The Planning of Courses in General Education
As this is a university specializing in the fields of medicine, the 12 credits in general education were planned in the direction of the education emphasizing humanities and social sciences with the aim of balancing the learning of the students who majored in nature sciences and the intention of educating a whole person education. Therefore, in addition to the common courses such as Mandarin Chinese, foreign languages, Chinese history and the constitution of the Republic of China, courses such as fine arts, music, philosophy, literature, sociology, law, psychology, and economics were also offered.
B. Phase 2- from 1997 to 2006
- Expanding the General Education from 3 fields to 7 fields
In the academic year 1997, the courses covered three major fields: humanities, social sciences, and nature sciences. Later, due to the abolishment of the required university courses, the original Mandarin Chinese and foreign languages were expanded into two fields. To meet the social trend of the time and as the society was full of the concept of volunteerism, it was deemed essential to cultivate the concept. In addition, physical education was also added among the five types of education: moral, intellectual, physical, team-work, and aesthetic. Thus, in 2002, the course structure was expanded into 7 fields: Mandarin Chinese, Foreign Languages, Humanities, Nature Sciences, Physical Education, and Services.
- Common Courses Generalized While General Education Courses Became Multifaceted
To make teaching come alive and effective, the original common courses such as Mandarin Chinese, English, history and constitution were replaced by various special topics. As the goal of general education was to diversify its courses, new courses were offered in according with the seven fields on year-by-year basis, which allowed students more course choices to choose from that met their interest.
C. Phase 3 - from 2007 up to the present day
- Three Areas Are Focused: Curriculum, Activities, and Environment
The core emphases of general education are to cultivate students who own a proper knowledge of cultures, value life and intelligence, know how to use analytical thinking skills and communication skills, as well as engage in lifelong learning for growth. To put the concept and its core emphases into practice, general education strikes to focus on curricula, activities, and environments. In order to move towards the concept of a whole-person education, students are assisted to acquire the knowledge from the curricular and the activities related to the different fields. In addition, a relevant campus needs to be established to engage students inside and outside their classrooms for learning. The general education retains the 28 credits which are to serve as the anchor for further course development. Between 2007 and 2104, besides the 8-credit basic language courses, the remaining 20 credits have been separated into two areas: Fields in General Education - arts and humanities, social sciences, and nature/life sciences, and core general education. An exterior evaluation policy has also been adopted to monitor the offering of the courses. After 2015, to modify the core competencies, the direction is oriented towards the strengthening of course consolidation and fostering interdisciplinary knowledge targeted at broadness and extensiveness; as a result, the curricular are extended to include nine areas, which comprise the ability to engage in active independent learning and self-improvement, the ability to improve one’s human relationship and communication skills, the ability to equip oneself with the humanistic quality and to serve the society, the ability to build up a liberal range of knowledge as well as ethics, and the ability to enhance one’s health and global perspectives. The nine core courses consist of Reading and Writing in Mandarin Chinese, Foreign Languages, History and Civilization, Literature and Arts, Reasoning and Cognitive Science, Social Sciences, Ethical Thought and Moral Values, Science and Technology, Global Perspectives. Any new courses that are to be offered should abide by the standards as those listed in the core competencies; yet, each core competency is not limited to merely one area, which would allow much room for the students to choose courses. The goal of this grand modification upgrades the course quality and follows the core competencies set forth by the university.
- Building up a Global Vision and Strengthening International Learning
The implementation of general education serves many purposes. It balances professional knowledge and embodies the concept of a whole-person education. In addition, it needs to be able to expand the students’ vision in order to foster a global view. The courses related to the international affairs center on courses instructed entirely in English, second languages, and topics on globalization and sustainable development. In the future, instructors specialized in economics and management will be invited to offer courses and lectures on topics related to free trade agreement (FTA), the integration of economic system, the renewable energy industry, and how to maintain a sustainable environment. The aim is to train the students to become global citizens with a global vision.
- Escalating the Quality of Teachers
Full-time teachers, if they are to be recruited, should meet the criterion set forth by the school. (For instance, a candidate should hold a doctoral degree and has published at least four journal articles within the last five years.) For part-time teachers, except for the teachers who teach physical education, the recruitment has been mostly targeting at teachers holding a doctoral degree or who are an assistant professor or higher in teaching rank. As a result, the faculty structure of the part-time teachers has seen tremendous decrease in the number of lecturers. During the past three years, to stabilize the faculty structure, some project teachers and full-time teachers in humanities and social sciences have been recruited.
- Plan for the Renovation of General Education Courses
a) The school has been granted financial support for teaching excellence programs, which has tremendously benefitted the renovation and promotion of general education. The first intended renovation targets at “language education” which comprises Mandarin Cines and English, with the intent to elevate the abilities of reading, writing, speaking, and listening of the students in Mandarin Chinese and English. Moreover, with the hope of achieving both goals of teaching and learning, the renovation is orientating towards the monitoring of the selection of the Basic General Education, the multifaceted design of the Cross-Field General Education, the addition of new courses, the strengthening of teaching assistants and the compilation of teaching materials.