Democracy and the Core

Eric H. Holder Jr. CC'73, LAW'76 and Professor John McWhorter with Dean James Valentini

Recent events in San Francisco and Los Angeles highlighted the contemporary relevance of the Core Curriculum, in particular Contemporary Civilization, the Core’s oldest pillar.

In San Francisco, linguist, political commentator and CC and Music Hum professor John McWhorter discussed the importance of students being introduced to grand issues, which have intrigued thinkers for millennia and that are a hallmark for forward-thinking people. McWhorter discussed how reading great works that have framed the development of civilization also helps students value others’ ideas, which might differ from their own, and to wrestle with them from an intellectual perspective rather than in a reactionary or emotional perspective.
Professor John McWhorter (right) with Dean James Valentini in San Francisco.
In Beverly Hills, Eric H. Holder Jr. CC’73, LAW’76, too, credited the Core for helping him to realize the importance of public service and to understand the Socratic ideal of a “good person,” one who contributes to society as an active and engaged citizen. Holder encouraged attendees to avoid complacency and to participate in matters of importance to them, not just now but always.

From right to left: Eric H. Holder Jr. CC'73, LAW'76, Dean James Valentini and alumni in Los Angeles.

One hundred alumni and parents attended each of the programs, which were hosted by Catherine and Hyun Park CC’84 and Alison Kay CC’06, respectively. The events were in support of the Core to Commencement campaign, a Columbia College-specific initiative to raise funds and generate alumni engagement to enhance the undergraduate experience, including increased faculty support, more global experiences, expansion of the Core and enhancement of student wellness.
Additionally, it includes a focused initiative to further the research, engagement with and advancement of issues around civil and political rights, with a marked objective of engaging undergraduates with these important societal issues.
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