Core Curriculum

Texts & Ideas

Course Structure

A menu of three-hour courses to be taken from the first year onward.

Learning Objectives

  • To engage in reading, writing and discussion about important ideas drawn from the study of important texts in a variety of areas - including, among others, literary texts, dramatic texts, sacred texts, historical texts, philosophical texts and scientific texts.
  • To develop capacities for argument, interpretation and aesthetic appreciation through engagement with these texts and ideas.
  • In order to ensure that courses are designed to serve the needs of the general education student, we recommend that courses offered for core credit meet two important criteria:

    1. They should carry no prerequisites, and
    2. Their primary purpose should not be to prepare students for more advanced work in a particular discipline.

In Self and Service, Dr. Bonnie Brown and Dr. Arthur Hochman's course, students explore aging through readings and through service-learning with a child or senior citizen.  The course, Brown and Hochman explains, is aimed at answering the question: "given my major or personal aspirations, how could I use those talents and aspirations to serve, beyond simply going to work or graduate school?"  Students craft oral and written histories of themselves and the person they serve; one student remarked that "the overall experience of my service was really the most powerful aspect of this class.  "Getting to work with my community partner have me something to look forward to."  Another student echoed that his community partner, "an older gentleman. . . really taught me a lot" while another commented that "this class has encouraged me to go above and beyond" in my service.

Reel America is a course that focuses on a different kind of narrative text.  For many students, movies are a pervasive and integral part of their entertainment lives.  But this course "offers students a chance to examine cultural artifacts," Dr. Joseph Colavito explains, "and consider how they are products of the time in which they are produced.  The course functions as a site of interdisciplinary investigation and interrogation at the intersection of history and film."  Collaborative engagement also is developed among students as together they examine the role that films play in their world. 

For students in Dr. Harry van der Linden's course, Ethics, the Good Life, and Society, the questions that confront students are also personal.  "What role should morality play in my life? Is my pursuit of greater individual wealth just in a world of so much poverty? Is factory farming cruel and unjust? When is forgiveness appropriate? Are our wars justly executed?"  The course challenges students to examine some of the fundamental issues of personal and social morality in both classical texts and contemporary issues, including the "good life," van der Linden suggests, and to "to discuss how morality is related to human flourishing." Grounded in the belief that texts are vital to  challenging our perspectives, all three courses also suggest that our worldview is made richer through the complications that reflective engagement with the world offers.