Core Curriculum

The Center for the Core Curriculum
202 Hamilton
212-854-2453
core-curriculum@columbia.edu

The Core Curriculum is the cornerstone of the Columbia College education. The central intellectual mission of the Core is to provide all students with wide-ranging perspectives on significant ideas and achievements in literature, philosophy, history, music, art, and science.

Contemporary Civilization began in 1919 as a course on war and peace issues, and the creation of Literature Humanities followed in 1937. By 1947, Art Humanities and Music Humanities had been added, and a new course in Asian Humanities was introduced. The Global Core requirement, formerly Major Cultures, joined the Core in 1990, and Frontiers of Science in 2004. Though celebrated for their content, Core Curriculum courses are equally important for their small class format. Taught in seminars of approximately twenty-two students, these courses ensure that education at Columbia begins with an emphasis on active intellectual engagement. The small class sizes provide students with opportunities to develop intellectual relationships with faculty early on in their College career and to participate in a shared process of intellectual inquiry. In the Core Curriculum, the pursuit of better questions is every bit as important as the pursuit of better answers. The skills and habits honed by the Core—careful observation, close analysis, effective argument, imaginative comparison, and respect for a variety of ideas—provide a rigorous preparation for life as an engaged citizen in today’s complex and changing world.

Committee on the Core Curriculum

  • Joanna Stalnaker
  • Associate Professor of French
  • Paul Brooke Program Chair for Literature Humanities
  • 512 Philosophy; 212-854-4567
  • jrs2052@columbia.edu

Giuseppe Gerbino
Associate Professor of Music
Chair of Music Humanities
621 Dodge; 212-854-6299
gg2024@columbia.edu

Patricia Grieve
Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Professor of the Humanities
Chair of the Committee on Global Core
305 Casa Hispánica; 212-854-4338
peg1@columbia.edu

David J. Helfand
Professor of Astronomy
Chair of Frontiers of Science
1008B Pupin Hall; 212-854-6876
djh@astro.columbia.edu

Lisa Hollibaugh
Dean of Academic Affairs
202 Hamilton Hall; 212-851-9814
lkh5@columbia.edu

Ivana Nikolic Hughes
Director, Frontiers of Science
Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Chemistry
625 Pupin​; ​212-854-2202
ih2194@columbia.edu

  • Emmanuelle Saada
  • Professor of French and of History
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies
  • Director of the Center for French and Francophone Studies
  • Carnoy Family Program Chair for Contemporary Civilization
  • 516 Philosophy
  • es2593@columbia.edu

Noam Elcott
Chair of Art Humanities
907 Schermerhorn; 212-854-7968
nme2106@columbia.edu

Roosevelt Montás
Director of the Center for the Core Curriculum
Associate Dean of Academic Planning and Administration
202 Hamilton; 212-854-2453
rm63@columbia.edu

James Valentini
Dean of Columbia College
208 Hamilton; 212-854-2443
jjv1@columbia.edu

Nicole B. Wallack
Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of English and Comparative Literature
Director of Undergraduate Writing Program
310 Philosophy; 212-854-3886
nw2108@columbia.edu