The American University of Kurdistan (AUK) requires basic General Education (GE) courses of more than 30% of the total credits for all undergraduate programs. The GE courses are designed to transform students from a secondary education mindset into the higher education arena through exposure to a variety of disciplines from Philosophy and English to Mathematics and Science. The vision of these courses is to foster students’ emotional intelligence (soft skills) for both their university study as well as their lives after graduation. It is these courses which not only form the base of their AUK education but also give them a competitive advantage in the region as critical thinkers and dynamic leaders.
By taking GE courses, students will achieve greater success throughout their study programs by developing skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, research, and effective communication, in addition to leadership, team work, and openness to cultural diversity, tolerance, integrity, and developing lifelong learning perception. Moreover, these courses can help students become more determined and confident after declaring their majors. This vision is achieved by fulfilling four university GE courses and six college-specific GE courses in the first two semesters of study.
A total of the following ten GE courses are required by all colleges in the first year of study. The courses are as follows:
1. GED100 Academic Debate and Critical Thinking
This is a course that introduces students to both debate in the academic sense of discussion and critical thinking. The first half focuses on fifteen common fallacies in critical thinking. Students will learn about each fallacy and should be able to identify each of them in media as well as in person-to-person interactions. There are weekly in-class writing assignments used to provoke student creativity and creative thought processes based on the concepts of “see, think, and wonder.” The second half of the course focuses on rhetoric and debate. Students each give a brief opinion/persuasive speech and must field questions to see if their ideas hold up against the 15 common fallacies. In addition, students will participate in a series of informal debates with two teams facing off against each other in addition to taking questions from the teacher and audience. By the end of this course, students should be able to avoid the use of logical fallacies in their writing as well as be able to identify them in others’ writing and speech. Additionally, students should have gained experience in defending their ideas in oral presentations both individually and in groups.
2. GED104 Introduction to Communication
Expository writing and public presentation are the mainstay of academic discourse. In this course students gain the knowledge and skills needed to convey information and ideas within a university curriculum. Lectures introduce students to the basic structure of the expository essay and demonstrate how it can be used to investigate or evaluate a topic, or to argue for or against an idea. They offer an essential guideline that can help students achieve a sufficient level of coherence, clarity and concision in their writing. In this course, students focus their writing on the various and unique forms of academic representation used by the sciences and humanities to convey information and ideas. Intertwined with in-class writing exercise are requirements for public speaking which encourage students to communicate more effectively when verbalizing ideas and information to an audience of their peers. By sharing their written work, participating in class discussions and delivering group presentations, students will be prepared for the rigors of formal communication within an academic setting.
3. GED108 Study Skills
The goal of this course is to prepare students for study at an American university and to help them make the transition to what for many is a new style of teaching, learning, and student responsibility. This course is divided into FOUR units: Before Starting; In Class; Assignments; and Exams. Topics covered are described in detail below. Topics are subject to change based on the evolution of the university and the needs of instructors in higher level courses. At the end of this course, students should be able to understand their plans of study as well as understand what is expected of them in a variety of courses offered at the university.
4. GED103 Ethics and Social Responsibility
This course is an introduction to moral philosophy and is intended for the student who has had little or no prior exposure to philosophy. It provides a broad but reasonably detailed examination of the central issues of moral philosophy and also considers how these can be applied to several contemporary moral problems. This course has two main goals. First, students learn about some of the most important theories and figures of moral philosophy in the hope that they can develop a clear understanding of the questions that recur in ethical debate. Second, students are encouraged to think about these questions (e.g., “What is morally right action?” “What are my duties to others?” and “How important is moral disagreement?”) so they can arrive at what are the most sensible positions on them. The course also examines contemporary issues related to ethics and students debate such issues by applying the relevant ethical philosophies.
5. GED106 Principles of Management
The course is designed to help students understand their own management capabilities and learn what it is like to manage in an organization today. Managing today requires the full breadth of management skills and capabilities. The aim of this course is to provide comprehensive coverage of both traditional management skills and the new competencies needed in a turbulent environment characterized by economic turmoil, political confusion, and general uncertainty. The main focus of this course can be divided into several broad classifications: Introduction to Management; Examining the Environment of Management; Planning; Organizing Process; Leadership; Information Technology.
6. GED105 Kurdish Studies
This course aims to make an introduction to Kurdish Studies for the students. In the last decades, Kurdish Studies has been important as a field of study and research. All aspects of Kurdish Studies (political, cultural and historical) have emerged as the subject of remarkable scholarly interest. This course mainly consists of two parts, each four weeks long. In the first part, students gain some basic knowledge about Kurds and Kurdistan in terms of geography, borders, history, society, culture, arts, and economy. In the second part, which starts by the end of the fourth week, students study Kurdish language and literature. In addition to this, they also study the emergence of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in 1992, and Kurds after the Arab spring as well as the war against ISIS. At the end of the course, students should have a broad knowledge of Kurdish society and Kurdistan through an academic framework. They will be able to analyze and compare between different periods and different communities within Kurdistan. Students learn many facts, but also the critical thinking skills necessary to analyze historical evidence related to the Kurdish community. Fourteen themes are used as a frame of reference in this chronological study.
7. GED101 American Literature
This is a Great Authors survey course in American Literature. The course begins with a survey of American literary periods and an introduction to basic literary terms. After that, each week or two weeks, a new reading is introduced. These readings may cover short stories, essays, and/or novels of celebrated American literary figures including such authors as Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and Edgar Allan Poe. Students write in-class reaction papers to each reading in which they must show an understanding of the work as well as correct use of designated literary terminology. In addition, students are required to select one poem and give a short presentation, which includes biographical information on the author as well as an explanation of the poem. Authors and works will vary from semester to semester. Students are encouraged both to read and use multi-media resources to deepen their understanding of the subject matter. At the end of the course, in addition to having learned something about American literature, students should have improved not only their written skills, but also their ability to summarize and use specific terminology successfully.
8. MAT100 Algebra and Trigonometry
This course is worth 3 credit hours and satisfies the General Education Mathematics requirement and meets specific requirements for programs as outlined in the AUK Undergraduate Catalog. This course includes algebraic expressions, linear, absolute value equations and inequalities, lines, systems of linear equations, polynomials, and factoring. Students should be able to use equations and inequalities to solve word problems involving discount and selling price, simple interest, and mixtures, Also, be able to solve equations and inequalities that involve absolute value, solve equations and inequalities involving fractions or decimals, find and graph solutions for linear equations in two variables, also graph linear equations by finding the x and y intercepts, graph lines passing through the origin, vertical lines, and horizontal lines, use the distance formula and determine the slope of a line, and use slope to graph lines.
9. GED102 Computer Literacy
In this course, students are introduced to basic concepts of information and communication technologies and their applications. This course will introduce students to computer hardware (H/W) and software (S/W), and all other important terms that are related to computers, such as personal computer (PC) and its types, input and output devices, etc. Also, types of operating systems are covered such as MS Windows, OSX, UNIX, etc. Moreover, students will learn about some useful applications, such as word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, database, and some Internet and communication applications. Students will gain all required knowledge and skills to be users of computers in the future. Moreover, students will be introduced to the specific knowledge of computer literacy and information and communication technology (ICT) used in the university. Students are expected to use these basic skills during their undergraduate studies in their respective disciplines and having completed the course, they will be equipped to use and keep up with the technology in their professional lives. Moreover, students will learn about MS Windows 10 as an operating system, and all these applications, Internet and web browsing, emails and teams group application.
10. GED112 Principles of Physics
This course helps students to understand the bases for many areas of education classes in different departments. The course includes material that is both useful and expands students’ understanding of physics, which is considered to be essential to understanding later core classes. It is designed to present concepts and applications of the following topics: kinematics, dynamics, and Newton’s laws of motion, force, gravitation, energy forms and their sources, torque, momentum, conservation laws of momentum and energy, and collision. The basics of electricity and magnetism, waves, optics, and heat are also discussed. In addition, students will be given the chance to carry out some basic experiments from various arena of physics such as mechanics, optics, electricity and magnetism. A sophisticated and modern general physics laboratory is provided for performing the experiments. This way students will be familiarized with the process of scientific methods in carrying out experiments.
11. GED107 Statistics
This course focuses on the applications of statistical knowledge. This includes exploring statistics key terms, sampling methods, data categories, data collection methods and data analysis processes such as frequency table and stem-leaf plot. In this course, the process of determining appropriate graph types to plot data, determining center-tendency and dispersion of data around the center are also studied. Familiarization with probability topics and their connection with statistics is also covered. This helps students to be able to collect data systematically and conduct graphing, analyzing and interpreting of collected data for any targeted major. By the end of this course students also should be able to recognize and understand various types of continuous probability density functions such as uniform probability distribution, exponential probability distribution, and normal probability distribution.
12. GED110 General Chemistry
General chemistry course covers fundamental concepts. This course provides students with the general knowledge required to further their understanding of chemistry. By mastering problem-solving skills, students will develop an understanding of how the concepts learned are relevant to other courses and their daily lives. The course covers concept of atoms, molecules, stoichiometry, chemical reactions, thermochemistry, gas laws, atomic structure, periodic table, and chemical bonding. The students will also be familiarized with the environment of laboratories and the safety precautions required whenever in such environments. The students will be introduced to basic quantitative and qualitative chemical laboratory techniques. The methods learned through the laboratories will be titration, reaction yields, and thermochemistry.
The courses are designed and offered based on interactive learning strategies. Students are encouraged actively to participate in the learning process as a transition from the traditional teacher-centered learning approach toward a student-centered learning approach. After fulfilling these courses, students should have attained sufficient knowledge, skills and competencies needed as a foundation for their specific programs as well as for life after graduation in an ever-changing and complex world.
Finally, as a qualitative assessment to ensure the effectiveness of GE courses in achieving their essential learning outcomes, annual extracurricular competitions such as debate, writing essays, and speech tournaments as well as science Olympiads are held. This ensures the alignment of the courses’ objectives with the university’s mission.