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.

Founded in 1919 as a course on War and Peace Issues, the central purpose of Contemporary Civilization is to introduce students to a range of issues concerning the kinds of communities – political, social, moral, and religious – that human beings construct for themselves and the values that inform and define such communities; the course is intended to prepare students to become active and informed citizens. While readings in this one-year course change from time to time, the factors that lead to adoption of a text always include historical influence, the presentation of ideas of enduring importance, and the demonstrated ability of a text to provoke productive discussion. Interested students are encouraged to refer to the current reading list for additional information. 

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 summer 2020 and after who have not already fulfilled this requirement through transfer credit. It is recommended, but not required, that students take COCI GS1101COCI GS1102 sequentially.

Students with 30 transfer credits or more 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

*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 social sciences, humanities and/or 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
  • Sustainable Development***
  • Women's and Gender Studies

*** Challenges of Sustainable Development (SDEV UN2300) can count towards the social science requirement.