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Thematic Pathways in General Education (TPGE) is an initiative to increase student engagement in General Education (Gen Ed) courses and to foster cross-disciplinary connections and co-curricular learning opportunities. Proposing a new TPGE as part of an organizing committee, or having courses included in one or more TPGEs, is entirely voluntary for UH Mānoa faculty. Similarly, students may opt to fulfill a subset of their Gen Ed Core (Foundations and Diversification) and Special Graduation (Focus and Hawaiian/Second Language) requirements within one or more TPGEs, but they are in no way required to do so.

The process for proposing a new TPGE is described below. This mirrors the sections of the online proposal form. If you have any questions, or want to discuss an idea for a new TPGE, don’t hesitate to contact us.


+ What is a Thematic Pathway in General Education?

TPGEs are broad, multidisciplinary interest areas that ideally draw on UH Mānoa’s institutional, geographic, and academic strengths. A specific TPGE topic is described by a group of faculty members who form a Steering Committee (see Steering Committee Requirements). The Steering Committee is responsible for identifying a set of courses to be included, overseeing the process by which courses can be added and removed from a TPGE each semester (see Adding and Deleting Courses), and organizing co-curricular learning opportunities for students and faculty related to the theme of the TPGE. The courses listed with a pathway will span multiple disciplines, categories, and designations of the Gen Ed Program, and any one course may be listed with one or more pathways.

The TPGEs should be clearly distinct and much broader than any single major, minor or certificate. TPGEs are not academic programs or a Gen Ed requirement. Instead, TPGEs provide selection criteria for undergraduate students, academic advisors, and faculty advisors to use during the registration process in order to identify subsets of courses fulfilling Gen Ed requirements that have some content relevant to a broad, interdisciplinary area that may be of interest to the student. A TPGE on “Household Pets,” for example, would identify the subset of courses with Gen Ed Diversification designations that have sufficient content related to dogs, cats, birds, and fish. With over 4000 courses with Diversification designations, and more being added each year, students are faced with an overwhelming array of choices. By tagging subsets of courses with content related to a broad interest area, the registration system’s new TPGE menu will allow them to quickly pull up a subset of courses relevant to a TPGE that may interest them. The student interested in Household Pets can then find a shorter list of choices for fulfilling a Diversification Arts (DA) requirement (e.g., Techniques of Pet Portraiture, Dog Photography). If no courses in that subset fit her schedule or pique her interest, she can choose from DA courses in a different TPGE or from the complete list of all courses with a DA designation. As a registration tool, TPGEs function like filters in search bars on retail sites: Men’s Shoes may bring up thousands of options, but Boots narrows that to a more manageable subset of choices.

The interest areas (or “themes”) that each TPGE encompasses will ideally build on areas that are academic strengths at UH Mānoa and that engage faculty and students in complex problems relevant to our community, our island home, and our world. Themes proposed for TPGEs should be sufficiently broad as to inherently offer many different disciplinary or program-specific approaches, and not be specific to one department/college or discipline. TPGE themes most likely to be approved should also appeal to a broad swath of students and faculty at the university.

+ Process to Create a TPGE

  1. Complete a TPGE application proposal, list courses to be included, and identify the initial members of your TPGE Steering Committee.
  2. Potential Steering Committee members should meet with GEC and GEO representatives to discuss the proposed pathway. Revisions may be required to the TPGE description, course list, or co-curricular event plans before initial approval is given.
  3. A vetted, revised if needed, and complete proposal will be brought for a vote to the full GEC.
  4. Implementation: The Steering Committee will work with the GEO to advertise the TPGE and include the approved TPGE theme in STAR. Finally, the Steering Committee will work with the GEO to build a website page to describe your Pathway and plan future co-curricular learning opportunities.
  5. Organize and work with the GEO to advertise opportunities for faculty who wish to add their courses to the TPGE.
  6. Communicate regularly with the GEO about the addition and/or deletion of courses from your Pathway and co-curricular learning opportunities. Any changes in Steering Committee membership should be reported to the GEO and GEC immediately.
  7. The Steering Committee will submit an annual report, due on or about April 1, to the GEC. See TPGE Oversight by the GEC section below. A form for this annual report will be provided on the GEO’s website soon.
  8. In year 4, undergo formal review of your Pathway with the GEC and GEO. This process will be separately described in the near future.

+ Criteria for Courses Listed with a New TPGE

It is important that your new TPGE support the mission, vision, and values of the General Education (Gen Ed) Program.  The courses listed with the TPGE must therefore cross multiple disciplines, Gen Ed categories, and Gen Ed designations, as well as provide ample opportunity for participation by multiple departments and schools.  In this spirit, the TPGE should meet the following criteria. Individual courses may be included in more than one TPGE, and courses can be added or removed each semester.

  • At least 40 Gen Ed courses must be included in the pathway course list: this ensures that there is a large enough menu of courses in each Gen Ed category for students to choose from each semester, without slowing their progress, and ensures many departments can participate in the TPGE.
  • At least six Gen Ed designations should be represented in the list of courses. These six designations should include at least 4 different Diversification designations ideally in each of the three Diversification groupings (Arts, Humanities, & Literature-DA, DH, DL; Social Sciences–DS; and Natural Sciences–DP, DB, DY). The six categories may optionally include Foundations designations as well as courses with active course-based Focus designations. For example, your TPGE proposal may list sets of courses with DA, DL, DS, DB, DP, FG, and course-based W designations. These minimums are meant to ensure that many different departments/programs can participate, either in the initial set of course offerings, or in future expansions of your TPGE.
  • At least three colleges or schools should be represented in the set of courses included in a TPGE. Again, this ensures that many different departments/units can participate.
  • The proposed TPGE course list should minimize the number of courses that require prerequisites. This facilitates the ability of students to meet many of their core Gen Ed requirements within a single pathway if they so choose.

When you have compiled your initial list of 40+ courses that meet the criteria above, click here to access the spreadsheet that you will complete and submit with your proposal. Please download the file to your computer, fill it out as completely as possible, and submit it via the online proposal form. Please ensure that you have secured approval from all relevant faculty and departments, which includes checking the expected frequency of course offerings, before listing specific courses to be included.

+ Faculty Steering Committee

Each approved TPGE will be overseen by a Steering Committee made up of faculty members representing at least three different schools/colleges. Interdisciplinarity is the hallmark of a successful TPGE, and this commitment to cooperation and connections across departments, programs, disciplines, schools and colleges at UH Mānoa should be reflected in a TPGE’s subset of courses, its co-curricular learning opportunities (see next section), and its Steering Committee. The size and composition of a TPGE’s Steering Committee can vary from year to year and from theme to theme. Identified Steering Committee members should be willing to serve 2-3 year terms. The Chair or Co-Chairs will be the primary points of contact, working with the General Education Office and General Education Committee to organize and advertise co-curricular learning opportunities or events each semester, and opportunities for faculty and departments to add or remove courses associated with the TPGE each semester.

+ Co-Curricular Learning Opportunities

Because TPGEs are meant to increase student engagement in their Gen Ed coursework and to create opportunities for students to make connections between courses in many different disciplines, an integral part of a successful TPGE will be the co-curricular learning opportunities. One of your Steering Committee’s primary responsibilities is to plan and implement at least one event per semester. You will work with the GEO to advertise the events (faculty teaching courses in a TPGE will be emailed about each event; they and their students will be invited to attend or participate). Co-curricular learning opportunities in a TPGE will preferably be accessible academic events, with resources posted on the GEO website (e.g., readings, links to videos or articles, discussion questions). Co-curricular events are opportunities for participating faculty and students to explore connections to topics and approaches outside a class; they offer cross-disciplinary learning exposure, experiential learning opportunities, or civic/community/social engagement (e.g., a lecture, professional presentation, service-learning event, shared reading or film across multiple classes with guided public discussion on a specific topic, volunteer opportunity).

Teaching resources or a module may be presented with the event to benefit faculty who may consider incorporating the material into their TPGE-listed courses. Optionally, your Steering Committee may also choose to organize a social mixer, marketed to faculty teaching in that TPGE, but this would be in addition to the academic event designed for students across courses in a TPGE.

+ Adding and Deleting Courses

  • Courses can be added and removed from a thematic pathway every semester. To add a course, course instructors will complete a one-page questionnaire and then meet with the pathway Steering Committee during one of the semesterly workshops offered by the committee.  These workshops will be hosted by a multidisciplinary subset of the steering committee and provide an opportunity for pedagogical sharing, discussions, on-site decision making regarding addition of pathway courses.
  • A course will be removed from a TPGE listing when requested by the faculty or department offering the course, or if it is not taught over a timespan of 3 years.

+ TPGE Oversight by the General Education Committee

The GEC will review annual reports produced by the Steering Committee for each existing pathway. The GEC will review proposals for new pathways to ensure that they meet the requirements defined in this document.

Annual report completed by Steering Committee, due April 1:

  1. How did your co-curricular learning opportunities go, and which do you have planned for next academic year? Provide details for each co-curricular learning opportunity such as the event’s relation to your TPGE theme, estimated attendance, etc.
  2. Which courses did you add and/or delete to your TPGE this past year?
  3. Are there any revisions to your theme?
  4. Which classes in your list were offered this past summer, fall, and spring (the current term) semester? For each, list subject code, course number, and final enrollment (e.g., ANTH 200, 35 students) Note that this information can be collected via Class Availability for all relevant courses.

After securing approval from the General Education Committee, each TPGE enters a cycle of five-year formal review. In the fourth year of active approval, the TPGE Steering Committee will present to the GEC requested materials that review the success of its history of co-curricular learning opportunities, document student learning and engagement, and as relevant, modify, discontinue, or renew that TPGE theme.

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