Colloquia and Interdepartmental Seminars
In 1931, a dozen years after Contemporary Civilization appeared in the College curriculum, the faculty introduced courses called “Colloquia.” These were first offered as team-taught interdisciplinary courses and were designed to provide students with differing perspectives on “important books.” The Colloquia anticipated (and supplied some of the structure for) Literature Humanities, the second set of Core courses, which were incorporated into the curriculum in 1937. Only a small number of Colloquia were offered each year, and from the outset they were available on a competitive basis to a limited number of outstanding Columbia College juniors and seniors who had to apply formally to be enrolled in the courses. Over the years, the content and structure of the Colloquia gradually changed, and in recent years, lacking a secure place in the four-year College curriculum, the Colloquia have not been offered at all.
As departments have moved toward developing interdisciplinary programs, new kinds of seminars are being considered. For example, faculty have been working to create interdisciplinary and intercultural team-taught seminars that integrate intellectual themes first introduced in Core courses within the context of specialized advanced areas of study across cultural boundaries. As these course are designed to fit within the framework of one or more majors, departments may in some instances elect to award major credit for them.