Dean Corey on a Bold New Core Curriculum Proposal

Interim Dean of School of Liberal Arts and Science Steven Corey. Photo: Phil Dembinski '08

We have a unique and exciting proposal to share this semester. A new general education core curriculum, the “Columbia Core,” complete with an integrated first-year experience, has been developed by members of the Core Curriculum and the Integrated First-Year Experience (IFYE) committees. This proposal will replace the current Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) Core and incorporates courses from Columbia’s three schools to provide students a distinct and dynamic academic experience. It blends the best of what our college has to offer: arts and media training; entrepreneurial, marketing, and business skills; technological literacy and a broad foundation in analytical thinking developed through exposure to academically rigorous liberal arts and sciences courses.

For nearly a year-and-a-half, the two committees have been working (separately at first, then together during the Fall 2016 semester) toward the development of this proposal. The Columbia Core’s mission is to provide a strong interdisciplinary framework for the institution’s universal learning outcomes. The proposed core is divided into two primary areas: “The Columbia Experience”—containing courses emphasizing connections to the city of Chicago, creative practices, and business, technology and communication—and the “Essential Liberal Arts and Sciences,” which includes writing and rhetoric, history and social science, literature, math and science. Infused wherever possible throughout the new core is curricula engaged with concepts and themes of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).  In order to ensure more systematic and concentrated investigations and reflections upon DEI, core courses will be developed using the guidelines and processes suggested by the DEI Committee.

For first-year students, our goal is to provide an integrated, preliminary engagement with universal learning outcomes, DEI, and the city through “Big Chicago” courses. In addition, first-year students will be advised to round out courses in their declared majors with those in the “Creative World,” which explore creativity from multidimensional perspectives, as well as with basic liberal arts and sciences requirements. During their sophomore year, students will be encouraged to navigate through the Essential Liberal Arts and Sciences by selecting a thematic pathway—which will vary between 12 and 18 credits in introductory through advanced levels, from multiple disciplines, and which touch upon a common theme or area of inquiry. Upon completion of a pathway that contains at least 18 credits, students can have the name of that pathway declared as a minor on their transcript. Students will also be required to complete, preferably in their junior and/or senior year, at least one course in the business, technology and communication component of The Columbia Experience.

Curriculum development in response to the call of the strategic plan has been, and will continue to be, a collaborative process because we know that together we can build upon our strengths as an academic community to provide the best education possible to our students. Given the significant scope of the new Columbia Core proposal, we will be encouraging a great deal of discussion over the next few months to hear and incorporate your thoughts on its objectives and structure.  We welcome you to review the Columbia Core proposal, which will be released early this week through the Office of the Provost, and to participate in a public comment and review period that begins now and runs through March. Members of the Core and IFYE committees will facilitate a discussion of the proposal at the College Assembly on Monday, February 27, are planning to coordinate a student forum with SGA, and will also meet with faculty and chairs in department meetings, chairs’ council and deans’ councils.

We also invite you to submit your suggestions for improvement to the proposed framework at anytime by emailing, or by participating in a campus-wide discussion hosted on Yammer (log in with your Columbia email/Office 365 credentials).

Both Suzanne Blum Malley (who chairs the IFYE Committee) and I would like to thank the members of the Core and IFYE implementation committees for their thoughtful commitment to creating a proposed core framework that reflects strengths of a Columbia College Chicago education. We hope you review all the available details about our plans this week and we look forward to hearing from you this semester.