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The Core Curriculum

A Committee for the Second Century of the Core

As we look ahead to the Core Curriculum’s future, the College has convened fourteen students and alumni of diverse backgrounds, to consider the purpose of the Core, and the experience it offers to each student, particularly for individuals of color, who may face systemic injustices and disadvantage in their everyday experience.  Committee members will reflect on the Core experience and ways that it cultivates intellectual community, challenges and engages students, reflects our values and mission as an educational institution, and advances our students’ critical thinking, intellectual fluency and ability to interact productively with others.  

The result of the committee’s work will be a set of recommendations for how to ensure the Core’s enduring significance as the central intellectual experience of every Columbia College student, with heightened consciousness and clarity around the values of inclusion and representation.


  • As we pass the 100-year mark, the Core deserves a comprehensive evaluation and interrogation, in order to legitimize its potency and to understand its impact as the longest-standing shared experience at Columbia College.

  • The Core has long promoted the values of both intellectual engagement and moral and social responsibility; understanding the effect of the Core on different CC communities in both ways is important in order to holistically measure its success.

  • As the nation grapples with violence against people of color and systemic anti-Black racism permeating our country’s history and institutions, critical investigation of the Core is essential because of its shared nature and its role as a central hallmark of the College experience. 

  • Columbia College is a leader among peers in admitting students from diverse backgrounds. One indicator is that 50% of students identify as Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian or Native American.  Our celebration of diversity must be visibly woven into all aspects of the College experience, of which the Core is most prominent.

  • Due to the Core’s historic role in the College, there have not always been active efforts to define its purpose, values or the imagined experience, for faculty, students or alumni. This has frequently resulted in misunderstanding and misinterpretation of what the Core’s origins are, what it is meant to achieve or how it should be experienced.

Committee Objectives: 

  • Bring diverse students and alumni together to reflect upon their experiences in the Core and, for alumni, since their time at Columbia. 

  • Prompt dialogue regarding the Core’s outcomes: which aspects have been successful or unsuccessful, how does it advance a student personally, professionally or intellectually, in what ways does it cultivate a student’s development, etc?

  • Define what a successful Core experience should look like and how that may vary by student, in order to develop measures of success that are applicable across a student body and also, across time.

  • Contemplate the evolving nature of higher education and our ‘contemporary civilization’ in order to recommend changes, updates or innovations to the Core experience, both curricularly and experientially. 

  • Identify ways to improve the College’s articulation of the Core and ways the College can better engage all students and faculty, as well as the external world, in an improved understanding of the Core’s purpose, impact and outcomes.