Contemporary Civilization/Social Science

Courses in the social sciences provide students with a basis for understanding social systems and the interactions of individuals and societies. All GS students must take two courses in this area.  GS students may elect to take the two-semester Columbia Core sequence Contemporary Civilization, COCI GS1101-COCI GS1102 (commonly known as "CC"), which gives students the chance to engage directly with some of the key political and philosophical texts in the history of Western thought. Students discover how, across the centuries, thinkers have struggled with certain central questions: What does it mean to be human? What constitutes a good society? What is the relationship between power and authority? How can we reconcile our aspirations to justice and our lived experience of inequality? When is revolution justified, and what happens when and if it goes awry?

Refer to the current syllabus for Contemporary Civilization. 

This year-long course is particularly recommended for students who are planning to major in any social science field, and it is required for students entering with under 30 transfer credits in fall 2020 and after who have not already fulfilled this requirement through transfer credit. Students with over 30 transfer credits can also select two social science courses from the following departments and interdisciplinary programs to fulfill the social sciences core requirement: 

  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • History*
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
    • Columbia psychology courses at the 2600-, 3600-, or 4600- level
    • Barnard College psychology courses except Statistics (PSYC BC1101)
  • Sociology
  • Challenges of Sustainable Development (SDEV UN2300); please confirm with your advisor whether other courses listed under this interdisciplinary program  may fulfill the social sciences requirement

*Courses from the Department of History may be counted toward the social science or humanities requirement, but in no case may more than two courses from one department be used to fulfill the GS core requirements.

**Students may not receive credit for both PSYC BC1101 and PSYC UN1001. Psychology majors should consult the Department of Psychology for additional restrictions on overlapping courses

Interdisciplinary Programs

The following interdisciplinary programs offer courses in both humanities and social sciences. GS advisors must determine the appropriate category for a course when taken to satisfy a core requirement.

  • African-American Studies
  • American Studies
  • Comparative Ethnic Studies
  • Comparative Literature and Society
  • East Asian Languages and Cultures
  • Ethnicity and Race Studies
  • Hispanic Studies
  • Human Rights
  • Jewish Studies
  • Latin American and Caribbean Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Middle East, South Asian, and African Studies
  • Women's and Gender Studies