Core and Your Major

Core works with any major, but it may be even more valuable for students who have chosen to explore before choosing a concentration.

As Core seeks to explore human beings’ most important questions through multiple lenses, of literature, art, psychology, philosophy, physics and political science, to name only a few, Core students are able to compare multiple disciplines and approaches in a single class. Rather than take an introductory class in Religion, or Art History, or Anthropology, or Earth Science, Core students read the most important works in all these fields and hear their most distinguished faculty lecture in the weekly Core Plenary sessions. Rather than take a large lecture class in Sociology or Philosophy, Core students can participate in a small seminar with a leading member of the department and gain an advisor who knows him or her personally. And when you do decide on a concentration, your Core courses will also exempt you from introductory courses in many majors, such as Philosophy, Religion, Anthropology, Political Science, Classics and English.

While Core leads some students to their major, for others it shows them why their major truly matters. Core courses are designed to look at the most important issues in each discipline and then examine how the various disciplines treat these issues differently. In this way Core complements your major by examining how it relates to other fields of knowledge. For an English major this might mean the greater context of world literature; for a Philosophy or Religion major it might mean seeing how common ideas emerged in the literature, art and philosophy of particular periods; for a Biology major it might mean looking at the ethical implications of various ideas about what is essential to life.

Core is also dedicated to reading and examining the classic works of a variety of fields, and to examining them, whenever possible, in their entirety. This gives an Economics major the opportunity to study Malthus, Adam Smith and Karl Marx, a Psychology major the opportunity to evaluate Freud, and a major in International Relations the chance to look in depth at Thucydides and Machiavelli. For a student in the College of Communication it might mean examining the nature of rhetoric by looking at it from the point of view of those who discovered it as a science. For an acting major it might mean an encounter with a wholly new aspect of his or her art.

And as Core students come from a wide variety of majors, but address the same questions, they are able to share their different perspectives and learn from one another. Particularly in the second year, when students bring both a shared Core experience and their growing expertise in their own fields to the conversation, Core classes are a collaborative effort. What every Core professor strives to teach is how to learn, and by the end of the students’ Core courses, this is something they know for themselves.

Because Core courses are interdisciplinary, they will exempt you from the introductory courses in many majors. For a list of these, and to see how Core can work with individual majors, visit the pages for “How Core Counts” and the listing of Core factsheets for specific degree programs.