All about the Core Courses

How Core classes fit into your BU experience

For students in large and demanding majors, Core provides an opportunity to complement required coursework with studies in different subject areas. For students who are undeclared, and for students considering a change of major, Core is especially favorable, since it allows you to use CAS requirements to explore many different subjects. Additionally, Core classes count as equivalency credit for many majors.

Completion of CC 101 and CC 102 satisfies the CAS General Education requirement in the Humanities, and the classes together count for WR 100. Further, completion of these courses enables you to continue the Core humanities sequence of CC 201 and CC 202 in the 2014/15 school year.

Since many students want to complete their Gen Ed requirements before they delve into the focused work of their concentration, and because Core courses are foundational in nature, Core is typically taken during the freshman and sophomore year. There are a total of eight Core classes. It is recommended that first-year students enroll for one humanities course and one natural sciences course in each semester; second-year students take one humanities and one social sciences.

Flexibility is built into the Core program: students are free to take fewer than all eight Core classes, or to enroll for later courses without having taken their precursors, e.g. CC106 without CC105. However, Core is designed to offer the greatest benefit to students who complete the entire course sequence Students who complete the entire Core program receive an annotation on their official Boston University transcript which reads: “Completed the Interdisciplinary Core Curriculum in Arts and Sciences.”

Core Humanities: CC101-2, CC201-2

Core Humanities is a four-semester sequence of courses that explores some of the world’s finest and most influential works of literature, philosophy, religion, and the arts. The courses follow a chronological sequence that allows students to look at texts from the perspectives of their authors and original audiences and also to discover the qualities that make them timeless and enduring classics. The approach followed by the Humanities Core —great works presented in historical sequence — allows the classics of each era to be studied in their historical context and depth. Students come to understand a text from the perspective of its author and original audience, and to discover the qualities that make it a classic — that is, relevant today, next year, and in all future years of your life.

CC101: The Ancient World

Fall. The first semester of Core Humanities introduces students to two fundamental components of the Western tradition: the world of the Hebrew Scriptures and the culture of the ancient Greeks. The course also considers the Babylonians and other peoples to whom the Hebrews and Greeks are indebted. Among the topics for the semester are: the character of a hero, the relationship between heroes and ordinary human beings, God or the gods, ancient cities, friendship and love, the meaning of justice. Key issues include the human experience of the divine; war (or man’s struggle with human and natural forces whose essence is strife); the development of logos (human reason or cognition) as a response to the divine and to the forces of nature; and the development of art.

CC102: Late Antiquity and the Medieval World

Spring. Focusing on ethical themes and questions from the Western and Eastern traditions, the course includes Aristotle, Confucius, Lao Tzu, the Bhagavad Gita, Virgil, the Gospels, and Dante. Chronologically, the course covers the late-classical period in Greece, the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, and the medieval world. A key theme in the second semester of Core Humanities is the Way: the way the cosmos functions and the proper way to walk the road of life.

CC201: The Renaissance

Fall. The third semester of the Humanities Core continues our multidisciplinary study with some of the most significant literary, artistic, musical, and philosophical works from the Renaissance, an era in which the foundations of the modern world were laid. The semester will carry us from the early fourteenth through the late seventeenth century, the late Middle Ages through the burgeoning of Renaissance humanism to the baroque period. We consider the origins of modern political and scientific thought and of the comic novel, the flowering of English poetry, Petrarch, Montaigne, Rabelais, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Descartes, and Milton, the music of Bach and the art of Michelangelo.

CC202: From the Enlightenment to Modernity

Spring. From the philosophes and the Age of Reason through the Romantic Revolt and the origins of modernity, students in the second semester sophomore Humanities study Voltaire, Swift, Rousseau, the music of Mozart, Goethe’s Faust, the Romantic poets, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Nietzsche, and Dostoyevsky.

Natural Sciences: CC105-6

This sequence of courses introduces you to the scope of scientific knowledge, acquaints you with the methods and logic of science, and offers an understanding of the importance of science to the development of civilization and to the contemporary world. It is designed to help you evaluate the important scientific and technological issues we face in modern society. These courses include lectures, discussion sections taught by full-time faculty, and laboratory work. The theme of the courses — the evolution of the universe and life — supplies the overreaching point of view for a study of both the physical and life sciences and of questions raised by their methods and discoveries. In each semester, several Integrating Forums are convened that bring together faculty members from the sciences, from humanistic disciplines such as philosophy and literature, and from theology. On these occasions, students have the opportunity to discuss and converse with these distinguished scholars and teachers and to debate key ethical and philosophical issues arising from their studies.

CC105: Evolution of the Universe and the Earth

Fall. In the first-semester Natural Sciences course, students explore the physical sciences: astronomy, physics, chemistry, and earth science. The main theme is the evolution of physical matter within the universe, “the story of stuff.” Perhaps the greatest benefit of CC105 is the understanding it engenders of how individuals personally, and humanity in general, fit into the universe. To promote integration among disciplines, throughout CC105 we will discuss the historical, philosophical, and theological implications of the scientific description of the universe.

CC106: Biodiversity

Spring. This course is designed to supply the conceptual framework for a lifelong understanding of the causes and consequences of biodiversity. The course will center on an inclusive biodiversity equation that includes both the creative forces that generate biological novelty and the destructive forces that eliminate it. These forces span the entire biological hierarchy from molecules to cells, organisms, societies, and ecosystems. Major topics will include the origin of life, the history of organismal complexity, the relationship of the biosphere to the geosphere, and the various forms of intimate interaction that exist between species, both beneficial and destructive.

Social Sciences: CC203-4

The Core Social Sciences are designed to provide students with insight into the origins of social science and the major events and social processes that have shaped the world of the twenty-first century.The first semester sets the historical framework and emphasizes the distinctive perspectives of the social sciences in building an understanding of our world. We read works of social theory and stress the development of modern political and social understanding from thinkers such as Locke, Rousseau, de Tocqueville, Mill, Darwin, Marx, and Durkheim.

The second semester focuses on the modern individual in relation to and as a product of the social environment. What are the forces that shape us? How do contemporary national and global pressures influence this identity? Among the topics considered in the second semester are the nature of human nature, the concept of the self, race in America, just and unjust war, and human rights in the international context.

CC203: Foundations of the Social Sciences

Fall. This fall course introduces the social sciences within their historical setting. It will pursue major intellectual themes rather than attempt to cover each discipline separately. In the first semester, we focus on the emergence of the social sciences up to the end of the 19th century and early 20th century. Our purpose is to outline the modes of thought, scope of problems, types of analysis and their significance in understanding the world. For this reason historical context plays a vital role in determining how the very societies we study have changed through time and helps explain why some problems received more attention in one period than another. The readings for each lecture theme are drawn from original sources in order to represent the most fundamental theories as they were first presented.

CC204: The Problem of Inequality

Spring. In the second Core Social Sciences course we will study contemporary approaches to the problem of inequality in American society and around the globe. Beginning with anthropological and historical perspectives, lectures and readings will bring insights, statistical data, and modes of analysis from sociology, psychology, political science, economics, international relations, and environmental science. The goal of this course is to use exemplary research in the Social Sciences to grapple with a problem that has implications for almost every aspect of our social, political, and economic life today.