07:42 AM

UST Renews Core Curriculum

Austrian Abbey LibraryThis academic year, members of the faculty have been hard at work renewing the University’s esteemed core curriculum.

Goals of the Renewal

The goals of this renewal have been three: (1) to reconnect UST’s experience of its core to the sources that have historically been the inspiration for classical liberal education, (2) to make the core more coherent and its purposes clearer while also easing the pressure on some of the majors with larger credit requirements, and (3) to animate a lively culture of liberal education and dialogue about its sources and purposes across UST’s campus community.

The Process

The process of renewal began with the work of the CCRC and a campus-wide consultation. The fruits of this work were then taken up by the Core Department and a course map, with an initial set of four courses, was approved unanimously by the Curriculum Committee just before spring break. Now, the remaining courses will be developed collaboratively by the Core Department and the other departments. In the days ahead, additional conversations about the Core will take place and structures will be developed for ongoing feedback.

What are Core Courses?

The Core Courses will no longer be designed to serve as introductions to a major but rather will draw upon the discipline’s key texts and questions to create an academic experience that can be integrated within a larger whole — the “journey of the Core” — to achieve the Core’s goals. These Core Courses will be “cognate courses,” closely related to the traditional courses but created anew in light of the purposes of liberal learning.

The Vision

Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” captures well the animating vision of the core: Through the guidance of teachers, students will ascend from a place of shadows to a place of light, to a place of integrated wisdom, a journey that forms them and aims ultimately at human flourishing in this life and the next.

Teachers, Texts, and Questions

The journey that each student undertakes in UST's Core creates an opportunity for students—in dialogue with their teachers and classic texts within their disciplines—to consider fundamental questions about the meaning and purpose of life, questions that everyone asks at one time or another. Supporting this central enquiry will be enquiries springing from the fine arts, the scientific, mathematical, social-scientific, and other disciplines. By exploring these questions with the guidance of their teachers, students will gradually discover a map of reality that they can continue to explore over the course of their lives. And this map can become a means to a life well-lived.