The Core Curriculum

The Core Curriculum

The Center for the Core Curriculum: 202 Hamilton; 854-2453


Committee on the Core Curriculum

Patricia Grieve
Latin American and Iberian Cultures
Chair of the Committee on Global Core
305 Casa Hispanica; 854-4338

Emlyn Hughes

Chair of Frontiers of Science (fall)
718 Pupin Laboratories; 854-0796

Matthew L. Jones (chair)
Chair of Contemporary Civilization
514 Fayerweather; 854-2421

Don J. Melnick (spring)
Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology
11th Floor Schermerhorn Ext.; 854-8186

Christia Mercer
Chair of Literature Humanities
707 Philosophy; 854-2850

Roosevelt Montás
Director of the Center for the Core Curriculum Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
202 Hamilton; 854-2453

Stephen D. Murray
Art History and Archaeology
Chair of Art Humanities
605 Schermerhorn; 854-8521

Elaine R. Sisman
Chair of Music Humanities
604 Dodge; 854-7728

James Valentini
Dean of Columbia College
208 Hamilton; 854-2443

Nicole Wallack
English and Comparative Literature

Director of the Undergraduate Writing Program
310 Philosophy; 854-3886

Kathryn B. Yatrakis
Dean of Academic Affairs
208 Hamilton; 854-2441

The Core Curriculum is the cornerstone of a Columbia education. Central to the intellectual mission of the Core is the goal of providing all Columbia students, regardless of major or concentration, with wide-ranging perspectives on significant ideas and achievements in literature, philosophy, history, music, art, and science.

Contemporary Civilization began in 1919 as a course on war and peace issues, and the creation of Literature Humanities followed in 1937. By 1947, Art Humanities and Music Humanities had been added, and a new course in Asian Humanities was introduced. The global core requirement, formerly major cultures, joined the Core in 1990 and Frontiers of Science in 2004. Though celebrated for their content, Core Curriculum courses are equally important for their small class format. Taught in seminars of approximately twenty-two students, these courses ensure that education at Columbia begins with an emphasis on active intellectual engagement. The small class sizes provide students with opportunities to develop intellectual relationships with faculty early on in their College career and to participate in a shared process of intellectual inquiry. In the Core Curriculum, the pursuit of better questions is every bit as important as the pursuit of better answers. The skills and habits honed by the Core—observation, analysis, argument, imaginative comparison, respect for ideas, nuances, and differences—provide a rigorous preparation for life as an intelligent citizen in today’s complex and changing world.