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Encyclopedia > Core Curriculum

The Core Curriculum was originally developed as the main curriculum used by Columbia University's Columbia College. It began in 1919 with "Contemporary Civilization," about the origins of western civilization. It became the framework for many similar educational models throughout the United States. Later in its history, especially in the 1990's, it became a heavily contested form of learning, seen by some as an appropriate foundation of a liberal arts education, and by others as a tool of promoting a Eurocentric or Anglocentric society by solely focusing on the works of dead white men. Recent controversy over the "Core" has been related to whether visiting artists to Columbia should have their works added to the syllabus, as was the case with a play by Vaclav Havel in Fall 2006. Columbia University is a private research university in the United States. ... Columbia College is the main undergraduate college at Columbia University, situated on the universitys main campus of Morningside Heights in the Borough of Manhattan in the City of New York. ... Year 1919 (MCMXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar). ... For alternative meanings for The West in the United States, see the U.S. West and American West. ... Eurocentrism is the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing emphasis on European (and, generally, Western) concerns, culture and values at the expense of those of other cultures. ... An Anglophile is a non-English person who is fond of English culture and England in general, its antonym is Anglophobe. ... Dead white males or Dead White European Males (DWEM) is a derisive term referring to a tradition of thought and pedagogy, like the Great Books focus of educational essentialism and Educational perennialism, which is believed to stress the importance and contributions of individual European males from the past, while largely... Václav Havel [VAWTS-lav HA-vel] (born October 5, 1936) is a Czech writer and dramatist. ...




The Core Curriculum is an example of what was adopted by many educational institutions in the years following its introduction. It requires students to take the year-long "Masterpieces of Western Literature" course (known as "Literature Humanities" or Lit Hum); another year of "Contemporary Civilization" (known as CC); a semester of "Music Humanities"; a semester of "Art Humanities"; three semesters of science including the semester-long Frontiers of Science course; the semester-long "University Writing" course; four semesters of a foreign language; two semester-long courses about non-Western major cultures; and two semesters of physical education. Students are also required to pass a swimming test before receiving their diploma, a common feature among Ivy League colleges. For the record label, see Ivy League Records. ...

The current Char of the Core Committee (2006-7), and of Literature Humanities, is Patricia Grieve (A professor of Spanish literature). The Chair of Contemporary Civilization is Philip Kitcher, a philosopher. Philip Stuart Kitcher (born 1947) is a British philosophy professor who specializes in the philosophy of science. ...


The Literature Humanities course includes the following required texts for the Fall 2006 semester: Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, The Histories of Herodotus by Herodotus, The Oresteia by Aeschylus, Oedipus the King by Sophocles, The Clouds by Aristophanes, The Apology and Symposium of Plato, History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, Medea by Euripides and the Bible (Genesis, Book of Job, Gospel of Luke, and Gospel of John). The Garden Party by Vaclav Havel was exceptionally added to the syllabus on the occasion of the ex-Czech President's residence at Columbia in 2006. Homer (Greek: , HómÄ“ros) was an early Greek poet and aoidos (rhapsode) traditionally credited with the composition of the Iliad and the Odyssey. ... It has been suggested that Deception of Zeus be merged into this article or section. ... Odysseus and Nausicaä - by Charles Gleyre The Odyssey (Greek Οδύσσεια (Odússeia) ) is one of the two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to the poet Homer. ... The Histories of Herodotus by Herodotus is considered the first work of history in Western literature. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The Oresteia is a trilogy of tragedies about the end of the curse on the House of Atreus, written by Aeschylus. ... This article is about the ancient Greek playwright. ... Wikisource has original text related to this article: Oedipus the King (in Greek) Oedipus the King (Greek , Oedipus Tyrannos), also known as Oedipus Rex, is a Greek tragedy, written by Sophocles and first performed in 428 BC. The play was the second of Sophocles three Theban plays to be produced... Sophocles (ancient Greek: ; 495 BC - 406 BC) was the second of three great ancient Greek tragedians. ... The Clouds (Νεφέλαι) is a comedy written by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes lampooning the sophists and the intellectual trends of late fifth-century Athens. ... Sketch of Aristophanes Aristophanes (Greek: , ca. ... (The) Apology (of Socrates) is Platos version of the speech given by Socrates as he defends himself against the charges of being a man who corrupted the young, did not believe in the gods, and created new deities. Apology here has its earlier meaning (now usually expressed by the... The Symposium is a dialogue by Plato, written soon after 385 BCE. It is a philosophical discussion on the nature of love, taking the form of a series of speeches, both satirical and serious, given by a group of men at a symposion or drinking party at the house of... For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... Wikisource has original works written by or about: Thucydides (in Greek) The History of the Peloponnesian War is an account of the Peloponnesian War in Ancient Greece, fought between the Peloponnesian League (led by Sparta) and the Delian League (led by Athens). ... Bust of Thucydides residing in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. ... Medea is a tragedy written by Euripides, based on the myth of Jason and Medea and first produced in 431 BCE. Along with the plays Philoctetes, Dictys and Theristai, which were all entered as a group, it won the third prize at the Dionysia festival. ... A statue of Euripides Euripides (Greek: Ευριπίδης) (c. ... Genesis (Hebrew: ‎, Greek: Γένεσις, meaning birth, creation, cause, beginning, source or origin) is the first book of the Torah, the Tanakh, and the Old Testament. ... The Book of Job (איוב) is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible. ... The Gospel of Luke is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels of the New Testament, which tell the story of Jesus life, death, and resurrection. ... The Gospel of John is the fourth gospel in the canon of the New Testament, traditionally ascribed to John the Evangelist. ... Václav Havel [VAWTS-lav HA-vel] (born October 5, 1936) is a Czech writer and dramatist. ...

In the Spring Semester (2007), texts include: The Confessions of Augustine, selections from Dante's Divine Comedy, Boccaccio's Decameron, Montaigne's Essays, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse . Instructors are allowed a number of choice texts per semester. Confessions is the name of a series of thirteen autobiographical books by St. ... “Augustinus” redirects here. ... DANTE is also a digital audio network. ... Dante shown holding a copy of The Divine Comedy, next to the entrance to Hell, the seven terraces of Mount Purgatory and the city of Florence, in Michelinos fresco. ... Giovanni Boccaccio Giovanni Boccaccio (June 16, 1313 – December 21, 1375) was an Italian author and poet, a friend and correspondent of Petrarch, an important Renaissance humanist in his own right and author of a number of notable works including On Famous Women, the Decameron and his poetry in the vernacular. ... The Decameron is a collection of novellas that was finished by Giovanni Boccaccio in 1353. ... Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (February 28, 1533 - September 13, 1592) was an influential French Renaissance writer, generally considered to be the inventor of the personal essay. ... Essays is the title of a book written by Michel de Montaigne that was first published in 1580. ... (IPA: , but see spelling and pronunciation below), fully titled (The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha) is an early novel written by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. ... Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (September 29, 1547 – April 23, 1616) was a Spanish novelist, poet and playwright. ... Shakespeare redirects here. ... Hamlet is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, and is one of his best-known and is the most-quoted play in the English language. ... Pride and Prejudice, see Pride and Prejudice (film). ... Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose works include Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion and Emma. ... Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (Russian: Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский, IPA: , sometimes transliterated Dostoyevsky  ) (November 11 [O.S. October 30] 1821 – February 9 [O.S. January 28] 1881) is considered one of the greatest Russian writers as well as one of the greatest writers internationally. ... Crime and Punishment (Russian: Преступление и наказание) is a novel written by Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. ... Virginia Woolf (née Stephen) (January 25, 1882 – March 28, 1941) was an English novelist and essay writer who is regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century. ... To the Lighthouse (1927) is a novel by Virginia Woolf. ...

The Contemporary Civilization course features the great books that have framed Western thought and philosophy, by authors like Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Ibn Rushd also known as Averroes, de las Casas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Machiavelli, Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, Adam Smith, Hegel, Marx and Engels, Nietzsche, Freud, Fanon, and Foucault, as well as religious texts like The Hebrew Bible, The Bible, and al-Qur'an. Additionally, thinkers such as DuBois, Woolf, and MacKinnon are read and discussed. This article is 58 kilobytes or more in size. ... For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... Aristotle (Greek: AristotélÄ“s) (384 BC – March 7, 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ... Cicero at about age 60, from an ancient marble bust Marcus Tullius Cicero (IPA:Classical Latin pronunciation: , usually pronounced in English; January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC) was a Roman statesman, lawyer, political theorist, philosopher, widely considered one of Romes greatest orators and prose stylists. ... “Augustinus” redirects here. ... Saint Thomas Aquinas [Thomas of Aquin, or Aquino] (c. ... Averroes (1126 - December 10, 1198) was an Andalusi philosopher and physician, a master of philosophy and Islamic law, mathematics and medicine. ... Ibn Rushd, known as Averroes (1126 – December 10, 1198), was an Andalusian-Arab philosopher and physician, a master of philosophy and Islamic law, mathematics, and medicine. ... Bartolomé de Las Casas Bartolomé de Las Casas (1484 – July 17, 1566) was a 16th century Spanish priest, the first ordained in the New World and the first Bishop of Chiapas. ... Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 – February 18, 1546) was a German monk,[1] priest, professor, theologian, and church reformer. ... John Calvin (July 10, 1509 – May 27, 1564) was a French Protestant theologian during the Protestant Reformation and was a central developer of the system of Christian theology called Calvinism or Reformed theology. ... Detail of the portrait of Machiavelli, ca 1500, in the robes of a Florentine public official Niccolò Machiavelli (May 3, 1469—June 21, 1527) was an Italian political philosopher during the Renaissance. ... René Descartes René Descartes (IPA: , March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), also known as Cartesius, worked as a philosopher and mathematician. ... “Hobbes” redirects here. ... This article is about John Locke, the English philosopher. ... Rousseau is a French surname. ... // The name Burke (from Irish Gaelic de Burca, of Norman origin). ... Immanuel Kant (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804), was a German philosopher from Königsberg in East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). ... David Hume (April 26, 1711 – August 25, 1776)[1] was a Scottish philosopher, economist, and historian. ... Adam Smith (baptised June 5, 1723 O.S. / June 16 N.S. – July 17, 1790) was a Scottish moral philosopher and a pioneering political economist. ... Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (August 27, 1770 - November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher born in Stuttgart, Württemberg, in present-day southwest Germany. ... Marx is a common German surname. ... The term Engels could refer to more than one thing: Friedrich Engels, German socialist Engels, Russia, formerly known as Pokrovsk This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 to August 25, 1900) (IPA: ) was a German philosopher. ... Sigmund Freud His famous couch Sigmund Freud (May 6, 1856 - September 23, 1939) was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology, a movement that popularized the theory that unconscious motives control much behavior. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... See: Léon Foucault (physicist) Foucault pendulum Michel Foucault (philosopher) This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... 11th century manuscript of the Hebrew Bible with Targum Hebrew Bible refers to the common portions of the Jewish and Christian canons. ... The Bible (From Greek βιβλια—biblia, meaning books, which in turn is derived from βυβλος—byblos meaning papyrus, from the ancient Phoenician city of Byblos which exported papyrus) is the sacred scripture of Christianity. ... The Quran (Arabic: al-qurān, literally the recitation; also called Al Qurān Al KarÄ«m or The Noble Quran; or transliterated Quran, Koran, and less commonly Alcoran) is the holy book of Islam. ... W. E. B. Du Bois William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (pronounced ) (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) was a civil rights activist, sociologist, educator, historian, writer, editor, poet, and scholar, and socialist. ... Virginia Woolf (née Stephen) (January 25, 1882 – March 28, 1941) was an English novelist and essay writer who is regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century. ... Catherine MacKinnon Catharine Alice MacKinnon (born 7 October 1946) is an American feminist, scholar, lawyer, teacher, and activist. ...

Table of Core Curriculum Requirements

Course Semesters Required
Literature Humanities

A seminar surveying the great works of Western literature

Contemporary Civilization

A seminar surveying the great works of Western philosophy

Art Humanities

A seminar surveying the great works of Western art

Music Humanities

A seminar surveying the great works of Western music

University Writing

A seminar designed to inculcate university-level writing skills

Foreign Language

A distribution requirement intended to instill at least an intermediate level of a foreign language

Frontiers of Science

A lecture and seminar course designed to instill "scientific habits of mind"

Other Science

A distribution requirement over any scientific disciplines

Major Non-Western Cultures

A distribution requirement meant to complement the perceived Eurocentric biases of the other Core classes

Physical Education 2 (only one unit each)


Original Intentions

Ironically, the requirement-heavy core was seen at a time as a change towards flexibility in many American institutions of learning. Previously, a liberal arts education rarely focused directly on a major, but would focus on both Greek and Latin classics. The changes were first initiated in the 1880's with the inclusion of courses in study of a modern language. This change, along with a latter change in campus location preceding World War I set the stage for a major change in curricula focus after the war. Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ... Combatants Allied Powers: Russian Empire France British Empire Italy United States Central Powers: Austria-Hungary German Empire Ottoman Empire Bulgaria Commanders Nikolay II Aleksey Brusilov Georges Clemenceau Joseph Joffre Ferdinand Foch Robert Nivelle Herbert H. Asquith D. Lloyd George Sir Douglas Haig Sir John Jellicoe Victor Emmanuel III Luigi Cadorna...


With the later half of the 20th century came many concerns about the nature of college curricula. The civil rights movement, feminist movement, and various other socially concerned movements saw the core curriculum as inflexible to the needs of the day. It was worried that a curriculum solely based on what was considered by many as western figures would not allow for ethnic diversity and would promote a lack of knowledge and a level of ignorance about other cultures. In response to this, many universities created a curriculum that maintained categorical requirements, but in few ways constrained the classes needed to fulfill these requirements.

More recently, 2004 saw the advent of Frontiers of Science, a course ostensibly designed to impart the principles of the Core in a scientific setting, while also edifying students about recent advances - the Frontiers - of modern science. However, Frontiers has proven to be very unpopular amongst the student body; common reasons cited for this include the lack of academic rigor and actual scientific thought, and the fact that the class's two objectives are irreconcilable - one cannot arrive at Einstein's theory of general relativity by simple Socratic thought. Albert Einstein( ) (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who is widely considered to have been one of the greatest physicists of all time. ... General relativity (GR) or general relativity theory (GRT) is the theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1915. ...

Response of Columbia

The response by Columbia College is still quite controversial. Rather than reduce the requirements, the University chose to expand the number of required courses after some criticism. This was in contrast with many other schools who had adopted similar curricula earlier in the 20th century. Those schools have instead opted for a broad based curriculum in the opening years, with much fewer specific requirements required of all freshmen and sophomore year students. Columbia College has added courses to create an expanded core, a move that is controversial. Columbia College Alumni are perhaps the staunchest defenders of this move, as they see the Core as the primary link between different classes as well as providing Columbia a distinctive selling point compared with the other Ivy Leagues. Columbia College is the main undergraduate college at Columbia University, situated on the universitys main campus of Morningside Heights in the Borough of Manhattan in the City of New York. ... Columbia College is the main undergraduate college at Columbia University, situated on the universitys main campus of Morningside Heights in the Borough of Manhattan in the City of New York. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Oglethorpe University : Academics : Undergraduate : Core Curriculum (366 words)
The University’s core curriculum is the clearest expression of this commitment.
As an interdisciplinary and common learning experience, the core curriculum provides for students throughout their academic careers a model for integrating information and gaining knowledge.
The sequencing of the core courses means that all Oglethorpe students take the same core courses at the same point in their college careers, thereby providing an opportunity for students to discuss important ideas and texts both inside and outside the classroom.
  More results at FactBites »



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