The General Studies Programme was first introduced at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), in 1960, (the same year that Nigeria had her independence, and the university established). The founding father of the University of Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, insisted on offering students a broad-based and balanced education that would prepare them for leadership roles needed in the newly independent nation state, Nigeria. Scientists and technologists, for example, need basic knowledge of the humanities as well as social sciences to complement and enhance their intellectual pursuits, as well as competence to cultivate a multi-disciplinary and most reliable approach to the solution of the numerous problems of human society. The human being requires such inter-disciplinary and complementary branches of knowledge to optimize his various experiences and to equip himself to face the challenges of modern life. The humanities broaden and liberalize the mind and enable the recipients of such knowledge to effectively contemplate, analyze and comprehend public issues, and to develop critical thinking and creativity.
The prevailing need to produce graduates who would be versatile in learning and knowledge informed the establishment, development and sustenance of the Programme through the National Universities Commission (NUC). The regulatory body arrived at the goals of the programme which include:
- to create effective communication in the English language
- to develop well rounded people who can apply the fundamentals of the humanities, natural and social sciences to the solutions of basic social problems.
To achieve these goals, four courses were introduced, namely:
- Use of English
- Social Sciences
- Natural Sciences
The huge success recorded since the inception of General Studies at UNN made the NUC to introduce the programme to other Universities. Through research and development, General Studies in Nigerian Universities have been subjected to series of changes in its course contents, scope and teaching. In the late 1960s, Nigeria suffered from the problem of national integration, patriotism and national consciousness.
Consequently, in 1970s, the course, Nigerian Peoples and Culture, was added to the General Studies Programme. The course prepares students for statesmanship and draws attention to those things that unite the diverse and pluralistic ethnic and cultural groups in Nigeria. It teaches, and emphasizes values which point in the direction of mutual accommodation, patience, common destiny and identity.
The introduction of General Studies in Nigerian Universities has broadened the frontiers of knowledge of Nigerian students coming from multi-disciplinary backgrounds. According to NUC guidelines, ‘All Nigerian Universities should offer the General Studies programme which must be expanded’ for purposes of contextual relevance.
The pioneer core members of staff of General Studies Programme in UNIZIK were recruited from the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu. Among them were: Dr. Rems Umeasiegbu, Mrs. Nneka Osakwe, Mrs. Ifeoma Okoye, and Mrs. Ngozi Ojiakor. Prior to their arrival, the General Studies Programme was organized by staff who operated from their various Departments. More academic staff were recruited later to join the aforementioned. Rev. Fr. Prof. Josephat Obi Oguejiofor became Director in the 2014/2015 academic year. Since then the School of General Studies (SGS) undertook complete computerization of its registration process. It established a multi-purpose portal, and from July 2015 started doing all its examinations by Computer Based Test. In November 2017, the university Senate approved the inclusion of entrepreneurial studies (GST 301) with one credit load for all third year students of the university. The Immediate Past Director of the School, Rev. Fr. Prof. B. A. C. Obiefuna whose base Department is Religion and Human Relations took over the leadership of the School on October 2, 2019. His efforts at professionalizing the operations of the School yielded very positive results in tandem with Project 200 slogan of the incumbent Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Charles O. Esimone, FAS. He handed over on the 8th of February, 2022 to Prof Alex C. Asigbo of the Department of Theatre and Film Studies.