From: The Core Curriculum, Sept. 1985

The idea of a core curriculum evolved over a period of several years, after long deliberation by the faculty on student needs and desires and on the root question of what a college education should be . . . A general plan and then specific courses were agreed upon by the college's Faculty Council in 1980.... Probably the most striking feature of the Brooklyn core is the "common experience" [that] all students take the same 10 courses as groundwork for everything else. The ... core is based on our deep belief in the power of common intellectual experience as a starting point for a distinctive college education. . . . Although it is impossible to agree precisely on "what the educated man or woman should know," the attempt to agree with respect to a limited objective is worthwhile, and the sheer pedagogical advantage of common intellectual experience is not to be lightly set aside. In very general terms, we seek to expose students in the most effective way to the principal branches of learning and the diverse points of view of our faculty.... [Therefore,] the core courses establish both a contemporary perspective and a solid liberal arts base. They emphasize modes of thought as well as substantive knowledge. The core's framework...allows individual courses to be taught by specialists.... All ten courses have been designed to complement one another and indeed to open into all major fields and elective areas. The core established expectations of a common fund of intellectual experience that the faculty can draw on, and that students can build on throughout the-entire curriculum.

The establishment of a core curriculum at Brooklyn College reflects the faculty's belief that priorities must be set with regard to the core of broad intellectual experience... At the time of graduation each student should be expected by the faculty to have attained the following goals:

(1) Development of the faculty of critical thought and the ability to acquire and organize ...knowledge ...; (2) An informed acquaintance with ... modern science and ... the n which knowledge of nature and man is gained; . with major forms of literary and artistic achievement ... and a critical appreciation of [their] contributions ... to the life of the individual and society; (4) ... with the working and development of modern societies and ... the various perspectives from which social scientists study these; (5) A sense of the past -- of the foundations of Western civilization and the shaping of the modern world; (6) An appreciation of cultures other than responsibility and experience in ... moral and ethical problems ....

The faculty established five general guidelines or criteria for individual courses: ...

(1) Core courses are designed for non specialists and are suitable for non-majors, but each is planned in such a way as to introduce material of fundamental and lasting significance. (2) Core courses aim at opening the mind, at broadening awareness and widening horizons rather than at specific career preparation.... (3) They offer both substantive knowledge and insight into the way knowledge is acquired.... (4) Their purpose is to give the student a perspective, an overall view of a subject or branch of learning and a substantial amount of essential information, which together ... provide a solid background in the liberal arts and sciences. (5) Quality of exposure rather than depth of coverage is the most important factor in core courses. The core challenges...the power of specialists to address...general concerns.

The core ... is taken over two or three years. There are two reasons for [a] "two-tier" approach. By spreading the core over more than one year, it is possible to build sequentially .... Equally important [to the student] ... is the opportunity to distribute the core [so as] to begin work immediately in a major field or elective courses.... As can be seen in course descriptions, two courses ... can be most accurately described as modular; short courses are run concurrently;... two others take an interdisciplinary approach; and one is purely discipline-based, [another] multidisciplinary.... A look at the titles of the 10 courses provides an instant sketch of the core's contents:

First tier: Classical Origins of Western Culture; Introduction to Art [and] Music; People, Power, and Politics; The shaping of the Modern World; Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning and Computer Programming. Second tier: Landmarks of Literature; Science in Modern Life: Chemistry and Physics; Science in Modern Life II: Biology and Geology; Studies in African, Asian, and Latin American Cultures; Knowledge, Existence, and Values.