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

  • Joanna Stalnaker
  • Professor of French
  • Paul Brooke Program Chair for Literature Humanities
  • 512 Philosophy; 212-854-4567

 Elaine Sisman
Anne Parsons Bender Professor of Music
Chair of Music Humanities
604  Dodge; 212-854-7728

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
1020 Pupin Hall; 212-854-6876

Lisa Hollibaugh
Dean of Academic Affairs
202 Hamilton Hall; 212-851-9814

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

  • Emmanuelle Saada
  • Professor of French and History
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies
  • Director of the Center for French and Francophone Studies
  • Carnoy Family Program Chair for Contemporary Civilization
  • 516 Philosophy; 212-854-3691

Noam Elcott
Associate Professor of Art History and Archaeology
Chair of Art Humanities
907 Schermerhorn; 212-854-7968

Larry Jackson
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Core Curriculum and Undergraduate Programs
202 Hamilton; 212-854-9625

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