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The Core Curriculum

Core Lecturers

The Core Lecturer position was created at Columbia in 2006 as a way of retaining Columbia College’s best graduate student instructors. The position offers two-year, faculty-rank postdoctoral appointments in which Core Lecturers, sometimes referred to as Core Faculty Fellows, teach almost exclusively in the Core Curriculum.

Core Lecturers represent some of the most skilled and dedicated teachers in the Core faculty. Harkening back to figures like Jacques Barzun and Lionel Trilling who, as young instructors, had a decisive impact on the energy, tenor and ambition of the Core, Core Lecturers bring fresh and cutting-edge perspectives to the classroom and contribute substantially to the weekly pedagogical discussions held by the broader faculty.

Contemporary Civilization

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Andreas Avgousti

Department of Political Science

Andreas Avgousti's research is in ancient Greek political thought, with a view to contemporary political theoretical discussions on citizenship and democracy. He is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively called Recovering Reputation: Plato and Demotic Power. Avgousti also has research interests in the relationship between politics and knowledge, in international politics and in moral psychology with a special focus on evolutionary theory. Avgousti received his Ph.D. in political science from Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; en route he also obtained an M.A. and M.Phil. in political science from Columbia. He also holds an M.Sc. in political theory and a B.Sc. in government and history (First Class) from the London School of Economics. Avgousti has been teaching Contemporary Civilization since Fall 2013. His favorite Core text is Plato’s Republic, with Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals coming in a close second.

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Kevin Elliott

Department of Political Science

Kevin J. Elliott received his Ph.D. in political science from Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2015, an M.Sc. in political theory from the London School of Economics and a B.A. in political science and public policy from UCLA (summa cum laude, departmental and collegiate honors). He studies political theory and American politics. Drawing on both theoretical and empirical sources, Elliott's research focuses on the normative justification and design of political institutions, particularly with the aim of improving the representation of marginalized groups. His research interests include democratic theory, modern political thought, public opinion and political behavior, particularly as the latter two relate to political interest and political participation. His work is forthcoming in the Journal of Politics.

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Jeremy Forster

Department of Philosophy

One of the most rewarding opportunities Jeremy Forster had as a graduate student at Columbia was teaching Contemporary Civilization. He has taught CC twice before, in the 2013-2014and 2014-2015 academic years. He is thrilled to return as a Core Lecturer and to continue to be involved with Columbia undergraduates in the collective intellectual endeavor to make sense of some of the most difficult texts and ideas in the history of political, social, religious, moral and philosophical thought. Jeremy received his B.A. in philosophy from Brown University and recently his Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. His dissertation, "Nietzsche and the Pathologies of Meaning," traces Nietzsche's shifting understanding of an axiological crisis at the center of modern life, a crisis which he eventually calls nihilism and which has as its center the sense that life in the modern world lacks meaning. More than tracing his evolving conception of this predicament, Forster’s dissertation focuses on the different solutions Nietzsche offers or that are available to him depending on how he conceives of nihilism. His research is also focused on other figures in 19th and 20th century German philosophical tradition, such as Hegel, Marx, and the Frankfurt School, and how they too take up similar questions about how we can live well in the modern world. Intricately connected to this research are interests in ethics, aesthetics, and social philosophy. Forster’s current research projects are centered on questions of how Nietzsche understands the notion of affirmation and its relation to questions of meaning and value. For instance, what does Nietzsche mean by affirmation? What is the object of affirmation, in other words, what exactly is it that is affirmed? What conditions have to be in place that allow for a properly affirmative stance, and what type of attitude or comportment to the world does it involve?

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Stephanie Ramsey

Department of Psychology

Stephanie Holstad Ramsey received her Ph.D. in cognitive studies in education under the advisement of Deanna Kuhn at Columbia University's Teachers College. Her dissertation explored the development of multivariable thinking in the middle school years. Stephanie's past experience includes serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi as a teacher in a community secondary school. Her research in cognitive development and experience teaching children and adults inform her teaching philosophy. Her classrooms are heavily discussion-based with active students and deep engagement facilitating not only the learning of content knowledge but enriched thinking and cognitive development. She does not play favorites among her students or Core texts, but if pressed she would admit that her favorite texts to discuss are Rousseau's Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and Social Contract. More information about her research and teaching can be found at

Literature Humanities

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Humberto Ballesteros Capasso

Department of Italian

Humberto Ballesteros, born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1979, holds a B.A. in literature from Los Andes University, a M.A. in literature from Pontifical Xaverian University, an M.A. in humanities and social thought from NYU and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Italian from Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. His academic work focuses on the intersection between medieval philosophy and the Italian literary production of the Trecento, with an emphasis on Dante’s poetry. He is also an accomplished writer of fiction and the author of three books, including an award-winning novel.

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Janet Min Lee

Department of English and Comparative Literature

Janet Min Lee holds a B.A. in English literature (2006) from Columbia College and a Ph.D. in eighteenth-century British Literature (2015) from Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In her dissertation, “How Allegories Mean in the Novel: From Personification to Impersonation in Eighteenth-Century British Fiction,” she examined the disorienting effects of allegory’s ongoing presence in eighteenth-century fiction. Operating alongside the currents of empiricism and realism in the period, allegory, she argued, was foundational to establishing literary techniques that would later be termed “novelistic.” Her favorite allegories in Lit Hum are Delusion (Homer’s The Iliad) and Eros (Plato’s Symposium) – both continuously touching things with their soft feet.

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Katharine McIntyre

Department of Philosophy

Katharine McIntyre received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2015. Prior to starting her Ph.D., she earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College with a major in philosophy and a minor in English. She works primarily in 19th- and 20th-century European social philosophy, especially Hegel, Nietzsche, Foucault and the contemporary critical theorists. McIntyre's interest in Literature Humanities began with a desire to indulge in reading the classics and to expand her repertoire beyond works of traditional philosophy. But her philosophical work has been invigorated and transformed by the Lit Hum texts, which together provide a genealogy of modern, Western values and social practices.