The Core has these goals: to provide a common experience for freshmen and sophomores; to introduce them to a diversity of ideas and cultural practices in the United States and other countries; to focus their attention on a single theme so that they might study in more depth than most introductory courses allow and to see that theme from different cultural perspectives; to help students see an issue from the perspectives of professors from different disciplines; to help students understand that making socially responsible decisions about issues requires making connections among disciplines; to develop students' critical thinking and writing strategies.
Two new courses were created: Interpretations of Justice (ID 111) and Pluralism in the United States (ID 112). Each is taught by five or six professors from different disciplines in a lecture/discussion section format (not more than twenty students in a section). "Justice" is a required freshman course, piloted last spring and in its first year as a freshman requirement now. "Pluralism" is a required sophomore course and is being piloted now as an elective. Critical thinking and writing and collaborative learning are major components of both courses: students write several short papers and/or a term paper and collaborate in conducting a symposium on an assigned text. As time goes by, we are trying to expand and refine connections between ID 111 and our required composition courses, English 101 and 102.
Authors and texts in ID 111 and 112 include Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Mill, Gandhi, the Mahabharata, the Quran, Antigone, The Merchant of Venice, A Soldier's Story, Islamic short stories, Hindu short stories, "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Malcolm X and others.