Core Courses

Changing Perspectives One Hour at a Time

See course equivalencies for all Core courses.

Freshman Year – Core I

COR 101. Narratives of the Self I

COR 102. Narratives of the Self II

The first-year course sequence investigates narratives of the self. Among the topics that students will consider are a variety of fictional and philosophical constructions of the self, the relationships of memory to personal identity, and the disjunction or harmony between public and private selves. The authors considered in the courses may include Homer, Socrates, St. Augustine, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Descartes, Cervantes, Lao Tsu, Nietzsche, and Toni Morrison.

Sophomore Year – Core II

COR 201. Human Nature and the Social Order I

COR 202. Human Nature and the Social Order II

The sophomore course sequence focuses on the relationship between individuals and communities, examining the extent to which the “good life” can be pursued within the confines of any social order. These courses investigate issues such as the nature of human excellence and virtue, the character of justice, the origins and sources of social order, and the status and legitimacy of political power. How can we obtain an accurate description of humans as social beings? What is the good society, and how may it be realized? Students in this course are invited to become more thoughtful, self-conscious, and self-critical members and citizens of the society and polity in which they live. Authors such as Aristotle, Locke, Smith, Tocqueville, Marx, and Weber are read.

Junior Year – Core III

COR 301. Historical Perspectives on the Social Order I

COR 302. Historical Perspectives on the Social Order II

The junior year sequence constitutes a historical examination of human experience in response to some of the themes and issues raised in the first two years of the core. Drawing on a variety of perspectives from both the humanities and the social sciences, the course strives to reconstruct the histories of significant periods in human history. The first semester focuses on the rise and fall of civilizations from antiquity through the Renaissance. The second semester concentrates on the problems of modernity, such as the rise of the modern state, nationalism, revolution, and globalization. Both courses examine the ways in which significant moments have become essential parts of our historical consciousness, enshrined in myth, and religion, tradition, culture, and institutions. Through careful analysis of current scholarship and original sources, students are invited to consider the complex relationship between history, cultural traditions, and the social and political institutions derived from them.

Senior Year – Core IV:

COR 400. Science and Human Nature

Science and society are mutually reinforcing. For example, modern Western society enjoys a high standard of living due to the application of science (and related technology, engineering and mathematics; STEM). An appreciation of STEM and its role in society is essential. This course examines feedbacks between science and society and cultivates informed consumers of science by considering the history, philosophy and practice of science and the roots of sociality and their interaction. This scientific way of understanding is continually changing and evolving—it is provisional. The primary distinguishing characteristic of science is its reliance upon experimentation for the determination of scientific value, and the resolution of conflicts among the practitioners of science. With the use of selected historical and contemporary topics, complemented by connections to its sister course in mathematics (COR 314 Mathematics and Human Nature), this course seeks to equip the student with the necessary tools to appreciate the interplay of STEM and society in our lives, if we live those lives reflectively.

Fine Arts Requirement – One of the following:

COR 103. Music and Culture

The appreciation of music begins with an understanding of the creative process as a means of self-expression and the artist’s relationship to the world. Using primary sources, guest lecturers, and artists, this course examines the styles, trends, and developments of Western and international music from early civilizations through the 20th century. Study and discussion begin to develop an understanding of how music and the cultural arts reflect and affect societal trends and values.

COR 104. Art and Culture

Through the study of art this course will help students understand the basic chronology of Western culture, lay the groundwork for broad cultural literacy, and look at how art reflects the human condition. The course explores content, formal elements, and historical context of the art of Western and non-Western cultures from ancient to modern times. Four basic themes will prevail: Art and Religion, Art and Power, Art and Nature, and Art and the Personal.

COR 105. Theater and Culture

Theatrical expression has been used to form and bind communities, to worship the gods and to explore and expose social norms. This course focuses on the ways in which theatre accomplishes these aims in a variety of ages, such as Greek, Renaissance and postmodern.

Mathematics Requirement

COR 314. Mathematics and Human Nature

Students in this course will explore the mathematical method through logical and quantitative reasoning. Through an in-depth study of the tools of abstraction, generalization, and axiomatization, students will learn to solve problems and communicate mathematics. A central theme is the difference between evidence-based and axiom-based argumentation, engendering a discussion of the commonalities and distinctions between mathematics and science.

Note: This course is taught by faculty in mathematics, transfer credit is not awarded for this course, and there is no placement examination since it has no prerequisite.