Core Curriculum

The Center for the Core Curriculum
202 Hamilton

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

Julie A. Crawford
Mark Van Doren Professor of Humanities
Paul Brooke Program Chair for Literature Humanities
602 Philosophy; 212-854-5779

Giuseppe Gerbino
Associate Professor of Music
Chair of Music Humanities
621 Dodge; 212-854-6299

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

David J. Helfand
Professor of Astronomy
Chair of Frontiers of Science
1008B Pupin Hall; 212-854-6876

Lisa Hollibaugh
Dean of Academic Planning and Administration
202 Hamilton Hall; 212-851-9814

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

Patricia Kitcher
Roberta and William Campbell Professor of the Humanities
Carnoy Family Program Chair for Contemporary Civilization
718 Philosophy; 212-854-8617

Matthew McKelway
Takeo and Itsuko Atsumi Professor of Japanese Art History
Chair of Art Humanities
919 Schermerhorn; 212-854-4505

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

James Valentini
Dean of Columbia College
208 Hamilton; 212-854-2443

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