Challenge Of Rigorous Education

 

The Indispensable Core

 

David Kaplan, Robert Ware

 

Abstract

 

The Core curriculum offers a rigorous and challenging approach to the essential problems, crucial achievements, and cumulative knowledge of Modern Civilization, along with the fundamental skills of critical thought and effective communication. The Curriculum is based upon four sequences of core courses: the Global Core, the Humanities Core, the Mathematics and Natural Sciences Core, and the Social Sciences Core. This Four Core Curriculum establishes the four cornerstones of first-rate University education. It is grounded upon the goal of providing all students, regardless of their major or concentration, with a broad view of the issues, ideas, achievements that have brought humanity to its current condition. Its aim is to help all students to understand the diverse historical foundations and achievements of civilization, so that they will be able to participate effectively in its further development.

 

Each of the Four Core sequences will be based upon a Great Books/Great Ideas approach to its respective area of study. These books will be selected each year from the Core Reading Lists. Although these may vary from one year to another, depending upon the preferences of the current Teaching Team and approval of the Core Directors, the fundamental spirit of rigor and serious intellectual enquiry is to remain.

 

The Global Core course of study is three semesters in length and includes two semesters of study of a foreign language, and one semester of a course on any non-Western culture or society. The Humanities Core, the Mathematics and Natural Sciences Core, and the Social Sciences Core programs are each two semesters in length. Students in each of these sequences meet for lectures three hours per week, and in small discussion sections (15 students or less) for two hours per week. Each discussion section will critically consider the reading and the lectures. Depending upon which core sequence they fall within, discussion sections will also concentrate upon the skills of critical thought, composition, and numeracy. In the Humanities and the Social Science Cores, students will write five substantive, out-of-class papers each semester. In the Mathematics and Natural Sciences Sequence, students will write two substantive, out-of-class papers each semester, while focusing upon numerical skills. This will replace the University's current critical thinking and freshman composition programs.

 

The Four Core curriculum will have a full-time faculty director with overall responsibility for the program. Each of the Core Sequences will have a full-time faculty director, who will lecture in at least one core course per year, and may teach other courses. National searches will be conducted for the Program and Core Directors. The five Directors will be responsible for upholding and enforcing authentically high academic standards in all Core sequences.

The Core Curriculum is the bridge that spans the disparate poles of our academic culture and integrates them meaningfully and coherently. In a way that no set of distribution requirements could achieve, it unifies the disciplines of the university, and helps students to appreciate their rich symbiosis. As such, the Core Curriculum is instrumental to the unity of the university.

 

Introduction

 

The Core Curriculum offers a rigorous and challenging approach to the essential problems, crucial achievements, and cumulative knowledge of Western Civilization, along with the fundamental skills of critical thought and effective communication. The Curriculum is based upon four sequences of core courses: the Global Core, the Humanities Core, the Mathematics and Natural Sciences Core, and the Social Sciences Core. This Four Core Curriculum establishes the four cornerstones of an SIUE education. It is grounded upon the goal of providing all SIUE students, regardless of their major or concentration, with a broad view of the issues, ideas, achievements that have brought humanity to its current condition. Its aim is to help all SIUE students to understand the historical foundation of their civilization, so that they will participate effectively in its further development.

 

 

Great Books and Great Ideas

 

Each of the Four Core sequences will be based upon a Great Books/Great Ideas approach to its respective area of study. The books will be selected each year from the Core Reading Lists (see appendices). Selections from each of these lists may vary from one year to another, depending upon the preferences of the current Teaching Team, and approval of the Core Directors (below). While the reading list for each core may be augmented and modified at any time by the Directors and Teaching Teams, it is anticipated that modifications will be made in accord with the precepts of Mortimer Adler, who identified three criteria for a Great Book:

Working closely with texts that meet these criteria, this curriculum teaches students to analyze and appreciate the Great Books and Great Ideas intellectually, historically, aesthetically, and above all, critically. It helps students toward an in-depth comprehension of a wide range of works, toward an analysis of the moral and conceptual problems that they pose; and toward the discussion and synthetic exposition of those problems in a manner that is penetrating, perceptive, and persuasive.2

 

This Great Ideas curriculum is designed to help students appreciate the historical development of the western intellectual tradition as the foundation of our civilization, and the conceptual framework within which we continue to act. It gives students a direct familiarity with great minds, great insights, great issues, and great problems. Where practical, it teaches them the value of original sources, thereby building their self-confidence and self-reliance, and equipping them, at the outset of their university educations, with a genuinely intellectual frame of mind. All of this fosters their capacity for life-long learning.

 

The Great Books/Great Ideas approach offers a further advantage in that many of the original texts are much less expensive than many contemporary college textbooks. More students are consequently able to purchase more of their course books. When students own their own books they are able to mark them. Marking their own books allows students to wrestle analytically and critically with the ideas that they contain, as well as to prepare for compositions and exams. For these reasons, ownership of relatively inexpensive books will contribute to the elevation of academic standards (below). Ownership of the Great Books helps students to learn build their personal libraries, thereby fostering their capacity for life-long learning.

 

The Great Books approach to university education was developed in the 1920s and 1930s at Columbia University and the University of Chicago, by educators such as Mortimer Adler, John Erskine, and Robert Hutchins. It lives today in the core programs at both of these universities, and on dozens of other campuses, including Oxford University, Princeton University, Boston University, Boston College, Ball State University, Baylor University, Pepperdine University, Reed College, Rice University, San Jose State University, Seton Hall University, St. John's College of Annapolis and Santa Fe, Trinity College (Hartford), University of Arizona, University of California (San Diego and Santa Cruz), University of Colorado, University of Houston, University of Kentucky, University of Maine, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor and Flint), University of Minnesota, University of Missouri Columbia, University of Montana, University of New Hampshire, University of Texas (Austin and El Paso), University of Wisconsin (Madison, Green Bay, and Milwaukee), Valparaiso University, Vilanova University, Washington University of St. Louis, and many more.

 

 

Four Core Structure

 

A. Global Core:

 

The Global Core is three semesters in length, two semesters of a foreign language, and one semester of a course on any non-Western culture or society. “Western” is defined as the cultures of Europe and North America. Students will select a non-Western course from a menu of approved courses offered within various departments, such as those currently listed in the SIUE Catalogue.

 

The Global Core will be coordinated with the development of optional study abroad opportunities, and with the development of programs for international students at SIUE. Specifically, it will coordinate with the SIUE Graduate School, SIUE International Student Services, and other programs that foster international exchange and experience. Whenever possible, the non-Western course curriculum will reflect the international research and experience of SIUE students, faculty, and staff.

 

The objective of the Global Core is the preparation of students for lives of active, informed and conscientious global citizenship. It does so by helping them to appreciate their own culture within the context of other cultures. As they are introduced to another language, students become aware of differences in structure, grammar, and syntax that will assist them in the development of critical, analytical, and expository English language skills.3

 

Because the goals of the Global Core include inexhaustible insights, sensitivities, and skills that can always be further refined, all students must take at least two semesters of a foreign language at an appropriate skill level. No student may avoid this requirement through proficiency exams or advanced placement. A student who enters the University with language skills may take two semesters of advanced language classes, or may take two semesters of a new language.

 

 

B. Humanities, Social Sciences and Mathematics and Natural Sciences Cores:

 

The Humanities Core, the Mathematics and Natural Sciences Core, and the Social Sciences Core share a common structure: Each of these is two semesters in length. Students in each of these sequences meet for lectures three hours per week, and small discussion sections (15 students or less) two hours per week. The 15-student maximum on discussion sections is absolute and inviolable; whenever possible these sections will have fewer than 15 students.

 

B1: Humanities Core:

 

The goal of the Humanities Core is to help each individual student to arrive at rich understanding, and a clear articulation, of the meaning, significance, and purpose of her/his life in aesthetic, historical, moral, and intellectual terms. It offers an historical survey of Great Ideas in literature, philosophy, and the arts. Different ideas and themes may be explored in different years, permitting a focus on different texts. In both lectures and discussion sections, these texts will be interpreted both critically and analytically. Students will further develop their critical skills in their expository discussions of these texts, stressing the presentation of textual evidence and rational argumentation. The first semester of the Humanities sequence will cover selected texts from the ancient world to the Renaissance. The second semester of the Humanities Sequence will include selected material from the Renaissance to the contemporary period.

 

 

B2: The Social Science Core:

 

The Social Science Core prepares students for active, informed, and discerning citizenship. It does so by introducing students to the basic questions of human social life, and to the investigation of these problems through acts of imagination as well as through methods of systematic analysis.4 It explores “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.”5

 

As in the Humanities and Mathematics and Natural Sciences Cores, this introduction to the Social Sciences will be based upon an historical introduction to the Great Ideas of these fields (see appendix). In both lectures and discussion sections, these texts will be interpreted both critically and analytically. Students will further develop their critical skills in their expository discussions of these texts, stressing the presentation of textual evidence and rational argumentation. Generally (though not necessarily), the first semester of the Social Sciences sequence will examine texts from the ancient period to the nineteenth century. The second semester will work with texts from the end of the nineteenth century to the present. Typically, students will commence the Social Sciences Core in the Winter Semester of their freshman year, after completing the Freshman Seminar in the Fall Semester of the first year.

 

 

B3: The Mathematics and Natural Science Core:

 

For reasons outlined in the following section, special attention will be given to the Mathematics and Natural Science Core, in which the focus is shifted from Great Books to Great Ideas. Among the key problems addressed by this Core is the gap that has now developed between mathematics and the natural sciences, on the one hand, and the humanities, on the other. Some social scientists see themselves as intermediaries, but their success in this endeavor is controversial. We take all of this as further evidence of the need for the comprehensive and thoroughly integrated approach of the Four Core curriculum. Due to the somewhat unique and different nature of the issues faced in this area, we include a brief, explicit discussion of our program.

 

Among science educators there is little doubt that the major problem faced in reaching today's college students lies in the perception, so deeply rooted in contemporary American society, that science is, in essence, a collection of facts of marginal relevance to the pursuits of everyday life for the average person, discovered and arrived at solely by a purely formal inductive, and therefore, rather dry, process. This is simply not true! As all involved know, while on the path to discovery, scientists reason in a very human way by analogy and intuition, by hunches and through bias, by accident and by serendipity, by borrowing ideas from other fields (e.g., Niels Bohr and philosophy), and by false starts, occasionally, by beautifully sublime inspiration, but above all else, by hazarding guesses. This is beautifully illustrated by the actual history of science. It is one of the major purposes of our Mathematics and Natural Science Core to generate in the student the courage to guess and to think independently, and to then think critically in deciding on alternatives. This can only be accomplished by showing to students the humanity of science.

 

It is well known among those who study these issues that all branches of science manifest deep connections with liberal arts. As a human endeavor, science is, and has always been, interwoven with other human endeavors. In this regard, one notes the profoundly parallel development of ideas in science, philosophy, art and literature. A study of the ideas of any century since the thirteenth convinces one just how closely together ideas in science and in humanities developed. Consider, for example, how many ideas in physics grew directly from the climate of religious schism and humanism in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and from the same spirit that bred Locke and Spinoza in the seventeenth. How numerous are the ideas in science that sprang from the same soil that nurtured the new political and cultural climate of the eighteenth century, age of enlightenment: consider, say, the brilliant advances in mathematical and physical mechanics of D'Alembert (by no accident, an encyclopedist), Lagrange and Maupertuis were closely related to contributions of their own and of colleagues to European political philosophy (e.g., the global “principle of least action,” which in turn has served as a source for twentieth century quantum theory) and these, in turn, were important as an influence on the entire revolution of thought that reverberated throughout the whole eighteenth century. Similar examples are endless – Huygens as a physicist influenced by the liberal political and intellectual climate of late eighteenth century Holland, the influence of Newtonian thought on art – after consideration, one could go on and on. Yet, as currently conveyed, introductory science programs, very much by conscious design, and by considerations of “efficiency,” do their level best to bury, obscure and deny these deep connections. In contrast to the circumstances of even the fairly recent past, American college students today indicate explicitly that they wish to be informed only of what they strictly need to regurgitate on examinations and view context as a waste of time. Textbook publishers, picking up on these sophomoric desires, respond with ever more crowded, but yet empty, texts. The result is tragic. It is our belief that in this is one of the major causes of the late drastic decline in interest and performance of American college students in science and mathematics. It is one of the goals of the introductory sequences of our proposed core to move toward a remedy for this regrettable situation.

 

An awareness of the human aspects of science fosters in the student the courage to think independently and encourages the student not to be afraid to guess. It was pointed out many years ago by C. P. Snow that society had developed into “two cultures” – the scientific and the “other,” and that these cultures do not communicate with each other. This was at a time when the American public at least respected, if it did not understand, science. Extending Snow's words, today we have reached the point where, indeed, the “two cultures” are not willing and not able to communicate with each other. Considering the roots of each in the other, this portends disaster. We believe that the true culture of our times is predominantly scientific, even in areas in which this is not obviously apparent. As scientists, we need to close the gap of communication. Part of the key for this is to show our students the close relations of physics to other areas of human thought and experience. It is also far more important to show students how we know what (we think) we know, rather than quickly pass through facts at maximal efficiency.

 

It is another major goal of our science and mathematics core, perhaps the foremost, to show that science is not a mysterious art, inaccessible to all but a select few . With this in mind, we propose beginning the science core with a project in which students, using data of the ancient Alexandrian scientist Eratosthenes, arrive at the circumference of the Earth themselves. Such a program has worked in courses at SIUE and elsewhere.6  Here, as in much of the core, the main lesson is not the fact, but rather the realization by the beginning student that she/he can do amazing things like this! Following Aristarchus, students then work out for themselves how far away the moon is, how far away the Sun is and how far away the nearer stars are. For this, the method of parallax is an absolutely beautiful tool – using nothing more than the simplest geometry, it amazes the student with what she can calculate – altitudes of satellites, distances to planets, etc. The student is also amazed to learn that, even with a 16 light-minute long baseline, when Hipparchus failed to distinguish the parallax angles of stars from zero (a great lesson in resolution) the scientific conclusion of his colleagues and almost everyone else for the ensuing 1500 years was that the Earth does not circle the Sun. What then is the real evidence that Earth circles the Sun rather than vice-versa? From the geocentric observational point of view the two possibilities seem equivalent. What then emboldened Aristarchus and Copernicus? Had they proof? Was such a conjecture then even possible to prove? All college students should be aware of the reasons for our belief that it is Earth that circles the Sun.

 

Another example from physics: it is common, almost universal, in current texts to announce Newton's inverse-square “law of gravity” as if it were suddenly handed down to Sir Isaac by the angels. This distilled approach is extremely misleading, antithetical to motivated learning, and a misrepresentation of the actual development, which could occur only after a necessary 1500 years of magnificent Hellenic, Alexandrian and renaissance thought. After this, Copernicus' method of deducing the relative orbital radii of the planets is eye-opening for students and again, wonderful for having them show themselves what they can do without sophisticated mathematics. Even more interesting is Kepler's achievement in constructing the heliocentric orbit of Mars from geocentric data. This is an astounding achievement – one of the pinnacles in the development of our civilization! Even a casual acquaintance with the apparent motion of Mars in our sky – stops and starts and loops, convinces one of the profundity of the result. How does Kepler know that the orbits of Earth and Mars are elliptical, rather than circular? This represents another stunning achievement. The essence of how we know gravity follows an inverse square law and where the idea came from is then clear to the student. All college students should be aware of the titanic achievements of Johannes Kepler, among the absolute pinnacles of our human civilization. The meaningful achievement of this awareness and understanding is also one of the main goals of the science and mathematics core.

 

Another strong thread of the science and mathematics core concerns, in intellectual parallel to the issue of how we achieved what knowledge we think we have, how we ourselves came to be. We would emphasize why we accept biological and human evolution. All college students should understand the scientific basis for our belief in this. Along with this, all college students should understand how we know, for example, the age of the Lascaux cave paintings, of Stonehenge, of the Dead Sea scrolls, of Neanderthal remains, of those of dinosaurs, and of the Earth itself. The simple basis of radioactive dating must, in any truly modern society, be understood by all. Along with evidence for human evolution, we will stress such issues as the evolution of the physical ability for language as well as that of language itself.

 

Human language is, of course, a reflection of human psychology, and it is our conviction that all college students should understand the basic tenets and milestones in the development of this science. All college students should be exposed to the ideas of Freud, to the basic ideas of Newton and of relativity and quantum theory in physics, to what is meant by the cosmic microwave background radiation that fills our universe, what will be the fate our Sun, where the chemical elements come from and to a basic understanding of how our mathematics developed. Through these ideas, we see and appreciate how we became civilized, what our civilization really is, and its value. Humans who understand what civilization is and the arduous steps through which we achieved what we have of it also understand its fragility and will always act and behave in a friendly, supportive and respectful manner to all human beings of all cultures.

 

For all of these, and many other reasons, the time is right for a comprehensive Mathematics and Natural Science Core Curriculum. Since it would not be possible to focus upon all of these topics in any single semester, the selection among these and many other great ideas of mathematics and science will be left to particular teaching teams in consultation with the Mathematics and Science Core Director.

 

Another issue arises in connection with science majors. Because of the extensive nature of the preparation that is now mandatory for post-baccalaureate work in the sciences, it has become almost imperative that many science and mathematics majors begin dedicated major subject course work no later than the second half of the first year. In order to accommodate this, it will be necessary to excuse declared and active freshman science and mathematics majors from the second semester of the science and mathematics core. That is, enrollment in certain courses preapproved by the core director (e.g., Physics 211, 206) will serve as satisfying the requirement of the second semester of the mathematics and science core. Also, for this reason, at least for science and mathematics majors, the Mathematics and Science Core would normally be embarked upon during the first semester of the first year.

 

Because the development of mathematics and natural science has accelerated in the modern period, and especially in the last two centuries, it is likely that most lecturers will move rapidly through selected ideas from the earlier historical periods, and that they will linger over key insights of the last two centuries. For example, it would be acceptable for a lecturer to spend the first semester examining great ideas from the ancient era through the nineteenth century, which were of particular use in the formulation of later advances, to be discussed in the second semester. In many ways, some of the same considerations apply to the Social Sciences Core. Suggested source texts are listed in appendix 3.

 

A note on the goal of numeracy in the Mathematics and Science Core: Mathematics and Science are largely about change via cause and effect . In this light, a typical science problem involves understanding the effects on system “ y ” of changing “ x.” (Indeed, in mathematics, the entire notion of “function of a variable” centers on this idea.) Critical to the understanding of this is the acquisition of a solid understanding of the concepts of ratio and proportion, concepts about which today's entering college students are notoriously confused. One of the main goals of our Mathematics and Science Core program is to rectify this situation in the first semester.

 

 

Teaching Teams

 

Each teaching team will consist of up to 15 teachers; the precise number will vary from one term to the next, depending upon the number of discussion sections attached to each core lecture. In any given semester, each Teaching Team will be led by the lecturer responsible for instruction in the large lecture course. No less than 25 per cent of the discussion sections will be taught by full-time faculty. No more than 75 per cent of the discussion sections will be taught by graduate assistants or call-staff. All of the discussion section staff will attend all of the lectures for their course in order to assist their students in analyzing and understanding the material. It is especially important that the full time faculty teaching discussion sections should attend each of the lectures, as this will be one of the guarantees of the quality of the lectures. Full-time faculty may teach in any core sequence in which they are conversant, and may teach in more than one core sequence as appropriate to their interests and expertise.

 

Each discussion section will critically consider the reading and the lectures. Depending upon which core sequence they fall within, discussion sections will also concentrate upon the skills of critical thought, composition, and numeracy. In the Humanities and Social Science Sequences, students will write five substantive, out-of-class papers each semester. In the Natural Sciences Sequence, students will write two substantive, out-of-class papers each semester, while focusing upon numerical skills, especially ideas of ratio and proportion, as mentioned above. This will replace the University's current critical thinking and freshman composition program.

 

With the exception of the Core Directors, all faculty and staff who teach Core courses will continue in their assignments to particular University departments, where they also will continue with regular teaching duties in that capacity. They will be released from departmental teaching duties in proportion to their commitment to Core teaching in any particular semester. Teaching a Core discussion section will be counted as equivalent to teaching one departmental course. Service as a Core Team Leader will be counted as equivalent to two departmental courses, or alternatively (at the discretion of the Leader), as equivalent to one departmental course plus one University service assignment. Each of the five Core Directors will be a member of one department (depending upon qualifications and interests), and may also teach departmental courses. However, in the case of Core Directors only, departmental teaching will be regarded as secondary to core responsibilities.

 

 

Core Directors

 

The Four Core Curriculum will have a full-time faculty director with responsibility for the program as a whole. The Four Core Program Director will be expected to lecture in at least one Core course per year, and may teach other courses in her/his area of expertise. Each of the Four Core Sequences will have a full time faculty director, who will be expected to lecture in at least one core course per year, and may teach other courses in her area of expertise. A national search will be conducted for the Program Director and all four Core Directors.

 

When teaching classes in their home departments, faculty have responsibility for the content of their courses and the academic standards that they apply. When teaching Core classes, faculty control the content of their classes in consultation with Teaching Team members and with Core Directors. It is the responsibility of Core Directors to maintain assessment standards in Core classes that cohere across the Core curriculum and that are authentically high. The coherence of assessment standards across the Core program is necessary to ensure its efficacy and its integrity. Because there are numerous lecturers and discussion leaders teaching in the Core program at any time the coherence and integrity of the program as a whole is the responsibility of the Core Directors.

 

 

Authentically High Academic Standards

 

These five Core Directors will be responsible for guaranteeing the quality of lectures and discussion sections, and for upholding and enforcing authentically high academic standards in all sequences. They will do this, in part, by reading and grading randomly selected papers from the first writing assignment from each discussion section under their supervision, and thereafter by spot-checking discussion section grades.

 

This pedagogical strategy for the achievement and maintenance of authentically high academic standards is based upon experience with the (core) Humanities Program at Revelle College of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Although UCSD is a highly selective campus, most students in the Humanities Program receive grades lower than they have become accustomed to on their first papers. Year after year the students are shocked by this experience, and thereafter accept authentically high academic standards, which they quickly begin to attain. This proven pedagogical strategy has succeeded spectacularly 7  for more than 30 years.

 

We fail our students when we fail to maintain authentically high academic standards. There is no point in curriculum proposals, mission statements, and lists of values and objectives, which pay perfunctory homage to “high academic standards” without making a rigorous and true commitment to attaining and enforcing such standards. In order to attain, and thereafter maintain, authentically high academic standards, it is simply necessary to shake incoming students from their otherwise unrelenting complacency. Realistic, as opposed to inflated, grades will shock students and cause them to begin working up to the high standards of the program.

 

Students will be allowed to revise their first papers in each sequence with the possibility of improving their grades in accordance with the same authentically rigorous standards. The papers will be weighted through the semester, so that the first papers will count for less than the last papers. These standards will be maintained throughout each sequence. Students will receive credit for a Core Course only with a grade of ‘C' or better.

 

It is the expectation of the Four Core Program that strict adherence to authentically high academic standards in the general education courses that are required of all students will eventually raise academic standards throughout the University. As the Four Core Program begins to guarantee high-level thinking and writing skills among all University students, it is expected that substantive writing assignments will be given in most University classes, and assessed according to rigorous standards. This is the only way that SIUE will truly achieve a program of writing across the curriculum.

 

Literature explaining the Core Four Curriculum and its authentically high academic standards will be sent to all of those secondary schools from which the University principally draws. The literature will ask secondary school faculty to help prepare their students to meet these standards. It is intended that the Four Core Program will significantly enhance the academic and intellectual cultures of the University and the surrounding region, in a manner consistent with the founding mission of this University.

 

 

Freshman Seminar 8

 

All incoming students will take a Freshman Seminar during their first term at SIUE. With approval of the Provost's Office, in conjunction with that of the Core Directors, some Freshman Seminars may be substituted for one semester of a Core course, if, and only if, their contents are judged to be approximately equivalent. For example, successful completion of a Freshman Seminar on Islam, with a grade of ‘C' or better, could satisfy the non-Western course requirement of the Global Core. Successful completion of a Freshman Seminar on Ancient Greek Culture could be substituted for the first semester of the Humanities Core. However, since the content of all Freshman Seminars will not necessarily approximate one of the sequences, not all Freshman Seminars may be substituted in this manner. Over time it is possible that the content of more Freshman Seminars might come to reflect the Four Core Curriculum, and that greater integration of these requirements may be possible.

 

 

Satisfaction of the SIUE Objectives for the Baccalaureate Degree

 

Each of the four cores we propose strongly reflects the SIUE Objectives for the Baccalaureate degree; indeed, these objectives are major goals of each of them. The objective of Analytic, Problem Solving and Decision-making skills is clearly a major component of both the Humanities Core and the Social Science core in that achievement of the beginnings of the understanding of the meaning and purpose of life in moral and intellectual terms, and the preparation for active and discerning citizenship that these core curricula seek to instill necessarily involves thinking critically, solving problems and decision making in life. These are clearly major goals of the Mathematics and Science Core as indicated in our description this Core above; training in science and mathematics without these goals would be contradictory to the very nature of these fields. As well, all four Cores heavily involve the development and practice of oral and written communication skills, indeed, for example, in our own writing about the mathematics and science core we have stressed the need for communication between scientists and humanists as necessary to prevent the breakdown of our modern society. Science without communication is meaningless. We have also stressed that for this communication to succeed, majors in areas ostensibly belonging to each individual Core must be literate in all of the others. We have emphasized that the intellectual ideas in all four Cores grew together in a highly interconnected way. The success of this program requires that all college students must be scientifically and numerically literate; this is a major goal of the Core curriculum

 

It is clear that any successful instruction in the Global core and in the Humanities and the Social Science cores must stress the value of diversity and, perhaps above all else, ethics. Without these, there are no meaningful humanities and social sciences – indeed, the very names “humanities” and “social science” underscore this. Accordingly, our Core proposals in these areas strongly emphasize these, as can be seen from our suggested reading lists in Appendices 1 and 2, as well as in the non-Western requirement of the Global Core. There is, however, a special emphasis on diversity and ethics in our proposal for the mathematics and science core. As we state therein, it is a major goal of this core, perhaps the foremost, to show that science is not a mysterious art, inaccessible to all but a select few. Diversity in mathematics and science is two-fold – all can (and, indeed, must be strongly encouraged to) participate, and ideas in science and mathematics have come from all cultures – indeed, it is the diversity of contributing cultures that has facilitated the progress of science perhaps more than any other factor, in that breakthroughs, by definition, involve breaking from former ways of thinking, and new ways of thinking can only come from different sources and contexts. Without the active participation of diverse cultures and people, science will stagnate. Also, as we state in our discussion of our proposed mathematics and science core, humans who understand what civilization is and the arduous steps through which we achieved what we have of it also understand its fragility and will always behave in a respectful manner to all human beings of all cultures.

 

 

Implementation and Transformation:

 

     With the implementation of the Four Core curriculum:

 

A national search would be initiated for all five Core Directors.

 

Since all Core courses are interdisciplinary and team-taught, the implementation of this program will replace the current Interdisciplinary Studies requirement in the General Education program. However, there is no reason to discontinue some of the fine Interdisciplinary Studies courses that are currently taught at SIUE. Any of these may continue to be offered as elective courses. It is possible that some of the current Interdisciplinary Studies courses may be substituted for Core courses with the approval of the Core Directors and the Provost's Office. Other Interdisciplinary Studies courses may satisfy the non-Western component of the Global Core curriculum with approval of the Core Directors.

 

Foreign language instruction could remain unchanged under the Four Core program. Specific alterations could depend upon any possible enrichment or expansion of the foreign language program within the Global Core curriculum. However, changes of this sort are not required, and would depend upon decisions that might, or might not, be made by the Global Core Director in consultation with the Foreign Languages faculty.

 

With the exception of the Core Directors, all faculty and staff who teach Core courses will continue in their assignments to particular University departments, and will be released from departmental teaching duties in proportion to their acceptance of responsibilities for Core teaching assignments. For example, faculty and staff who currently teach Composition in the English Department, or Critical Thinking in the Philosophy Department, will remain in those departments, and may continue to perform other teaching duties in those departments. However, they will henceforth teach skills such as composition and critical thinking under the auspices of the Four Core program, often as leaders of discussion sections. For purposes of these assignments, they will be released from departmental teaching duties. While this will produce administrative and budgetary shifts, it will not result in substantial dislocation of personnel. Because some original texts can be purchased inexpensively, the University Bookstore may see some growth in business.

 

While Core lectures and discussion sections can be offered in existing classrooms, it eventually may become desirable to construct a Core building on campus to house the offices of the Core Directors, lecture halls, seminar rooms, and meeting rooms for Teaching Teams.

 

 

Conclusions:

The Core curriculum is the bridge that spans the disparate poles of our academic culture and integrates them meaningfully and coherently. In a way that no set of distribution requirements could ever hope to achieve, it pulls the separate disciplines of the university together, and helps students to appreciate their rich symbiosis. The Core curriculum is instrumental to the unity of the university.

 

(Please see attached Appendices.)

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Appendix 1:   Preliminary (and partial) Humanities Reading List

 

[Instructors are to assign selections and excerpts from the following suggestive list. Teaching teams may augment, or otherwise modify, the list at anytime with approval of Core Directors.]

 

Aeschylus:                Oresteia, Prometheus Bound 
Sophocles:                Antigone, Oedipus Rex 
                               Oedipus at Colonus 
Homer:                    The Iliad, Odyessy 
Euripides:                 Hippolytos, The Bacchae
Aristophanes:           The Frogs, The Clouds 
Thucydides:             Peloponnesian War 
Plato:                       Gorgias, Parmenides, Symposium, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Republic 
Aristotle:                  De Anima, Nicomachean Ethics,Poetics, Metaphysics, Physics
Bible:                      Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Daniel, Paul, First letter to the orinthians, John, 
                              Revelation, Job, Ecclesiastes, Matthew 
Lucretius:                The Nature of Things
Plutarch:                  Caesar, Lycurgus, Solon, Cato the Younger 
Petronius:                The Satyricon 
Livy:                       History of Rome, Book I 
Vergil:                     The Aeneid 
Epictetus:                Enchiridion, Discourses, Manual 
Augustine:               Confessions, The City of God 
Boethius:                 Consolation of Philosophy 
Chretien de Troyes: Erec et Enide  
                              Lancelot 
Aquinas:                  Summa Theologiae 
Dante:                     Divine Comedy 
Erasmus;                 The Praise of Folly 
anon:                       Beowulf 
Chaucer:                  Canterbury Tales 
Hildegard of Bingen: Mystical Writings 
Nicholo Machiavelli: The Prince, Discourses 
Martin Luther:          The Freedom of a Christian 
Montaigne:               Essays 
Corneille:                 The Cid 
Ariosto:                    Orlando Furioso 
Rabelais:                  Gargantua and Pantagruel 
Cervantes:               Don Quixote 
More:                     Utopia 
Marlowe:                Dr. Faustus 
Shakespeare:           Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer Night's Dream, King Lear, MacBeth 
Racine:                   Phaedra 
Rene Descartes:      Discourse on Method, Meditations 
Benedict De Spinoza: Ethics Theological-Political Treatise 
Pascal:                   Pensees 
Milton:                   Paradise Lost 
Diderot:                 Rameau's Nephew 
John Locke:           Essay Concerning Human Understanding 
                             Second Treatise on Government 
                             Letter Concerning Toleration 
Johnathan Swift:     Gulliver's Travels 
Gotthold Lessing:    Nathan the Wise 
Wolfgang Mozart:   The Magic Flute
Gottfried Leibniz:    Monadology 
Miguel Cervantes:   Don Quixote 
Voltaire:                 Candide, Zadig 
Henry Fielding:       Joseph Andrews
Rousseau:              On the Origins of Inequality, The Social Contract, Emile 
David Hume:          Treatise on Human Nature, Of Miracles 
Moliere:                 The Misanthrope 
Tom Paine:            The Rights of Man 
Edmund Burke:      Reflections on the Revolution in France 
Jane Austen:           Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice 
Gustave Flaubert:    Madame Bovary 
Immanuel Kant:      Critique of Pure Reason , Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals 
Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Faust 
Friedrich Schiller:     On the Aesthetic Education of Man, On the Naive and Sentimental in Literature 
G. W. F. Hegel:      Lordship and Bondage, The Philosophy of Right, Lectures on the Philosophy 
                                  of World History 
Mark Twain:          Huckleberry Finn 
Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy in America 
Mary Shelley:         Frankenstein 
Honore Balzac:       Madame Bovary, Pere Goriot 
Charles Darwin:      On the Origin of Species 
John Stuart Mill:     On Liberty 
Karl Marx:             Theses on Feuerbach , Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, 
                                  The Communist Manifesto , Das Kapital 
Friedrich Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil 
Charles Baudelaire:  Les Fleurs du Mal 
Fyodor Dostoevsky: Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov 
Soren Kierkegaard:   Fear and Trembling 
Stendhal:                 The Red and the Black 
Herman Melville:     Moby Dick 
George Eliot:           Middlemarch 
Leo Tolstoy:           Anna Karenina 
Henrik Ibsen:          A Doll's House 
Sigmund Freud:      Civilization and Its Discontents, Psychopathology of Everyday Life 
Igor Stravinsky:      Rite of Spring 
Edith Wharton:       Ethan Frome 
Luigi Pirandello:     Henry IV 
Thomas Mann:      Death in Venice 
Franz Kafka:         The Metamorphosis 
Karl Jung:             Psychological Types 
W. E. B. Du Bois:  The Souls of Black Folk 
Martin Heidigger:   What is Philosophy? 
Virginia Woolf:      A Room of One's Own 
Hannah Arendt:    The Human Condition, Eichman in Jerusalem 
T. S. Eliot:           The Waste Land 
Albert Camus:      The Plague, The Stranger 
Jorge Luis Borges: Labyrinths 
Gabriel Vasquez Marquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude 
Jean Rhys:           Wide Sargasso Sea 
Toni Morrison:    Beloved 
   

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Appendix 2: Preliminary (and partial) Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Reading List 9

 

[Instructors are to assign selections and excerpts from the following suggestive list. Teaching teams may augment, or otherwise modify, the list at anytime with approval of Core Directors.]

 

Plato:                             Timaeus
Aristotle:                        excerpt from Physics 
Euclid:                           excerpt from Elements 
Lucretius:                       excerpt from On the Nature of Things 
E. Rogers:                     Physics for the Inquiring Mind (especially chapters on development of Greek and Alexandrian 
                                     cosmology, Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler and Newton.) 
Nikolas Copernicus:       excerpt from On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres 
Arthur Eddington :          Johann Kepler 
Johann Kepler:               excerpt from Epitome IV 
Isaac Newton :               Principia (excerpts) 
Galileo:                           Dialog on Two Sciences 
Bertold Brecht:               Galileo 
Thomas. Kuhn :              The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The Copernican Revolution. 
Brown (ed.):                  The Realm of Science: volume 7: Foundations of Physics (on Newtonian system) 
                                      volume 9: Revolution in Science: Relativity, Quantum and Nuclear Physics. 
Lavoisier:                       excerpt from Elements of Chemistry 
Harvey:                          excerpt from Motion of the Heart and Blood 
Essays by:                      Archimedes, Avogadro, Dalton, Cannizzaro, Gay-Lussac, Faraday, J.J. Thompson, Mendeleyev 
Nicomachus:                  excerpt from Arithmetic 
Dedekind:                      Essay on the Theory of Numbers 
Morris Kline:                 Mathematics in Western Culture, Mathematical Thought From Ancient to Modern Times 
Richard Courant:           Mathematics in the Modern World 
John D. Barrow:            Pi in the Sky 
Charles Darwin:            On the Origin of Species 
Richard Dawkins:         The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker 
Melvin Konner:            Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit, 2 nd edition 
Donald Griffin:              Animal Minds : Beyond Cognition to Consciousness 
Jared Diamond:            Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies 
Brian Fagan:                 Out of Eden 
Watson and Crick:       The Double Helix 
Peter Atkins:                The Second Law 
W. Thomas Griffith:     The Physics of Everyday Phenomena 
Allan Lightman :          Great Ideas in Physics 
Roger March :            Physics for Poets 
Paul Hewitt:                Conceptual Physics 
Bertrand Russell:         Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, Mysticism and Logic 
George Gamow:         Thirty Years that Shook Physics, Mr. Tompkins in Paperback 
Richard Feynman:      The Character of Physical Law, Lectures on Physics ( excerpts, especially volume III, chapter one 
                                  on the interference of electrons). 
Essays by:                  Faraday, J.J. Thomson, Mendel, Minkowski, Rutherford, Davisson, Schrodinger, Bohr, Maxwell, 
                                 de Broigle, Dreisch, Orsted, Ampere, Boveri, Sutton, Morgan, Beadle & Tatum, Sussman, 
                                  Watson & Crick, Jacob & Monod, Hardy 
Sigmund Freud:          Outline of Psychoanalysis, The Interpretation of Dreams, Psychopathology of Everyday Life 
B. F. Skinner:             Walden II 
P.B. Medawar:           Advice to a Young Scientist, Pluto's Republic 
Niels Bohr:                Philosophical Writings 
Erwin Schrodinger:    What is Life 
Albert Einstein:          Relativity 
Werner Heisenberg:  Physics and Philosophy 
Nick Herbert:          Quantum Reality 
E. Libby:                 Radioactive Dating (paper) 
John A. Wheeler:    A Journey Into Gravity and Spacetime 
Edwin Taylor and John A. Wheeler: Spacetime Physics 
John Polkinghorne:  The Particle Play, The Quantum World 
Kip Thorne:             Black Holes and Time Warps 
Brian Greene:          The Fabric of the Cosmos 

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Appendix 3:   Preliminary (and partial) Social Sciences Reading List 10

 

[Instructors are to assign selections and excerpts from the following suggestive list. Teaching teams may augment, or otherwise modify, the list at anytime with approval of Core Directors.]

 

 

Herodotus:                  The Histories 
Thucydides:                 History of the Peloponnesian War 
Plato:                           Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Republic 
Aristotle:                      Politics 
Augustine:                    City of God 
Edward Gibbon:          Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 
Nicholo Machiavelli:    The Prince, The Discourses 
Thomas Hobbes:         Leviathan 
John Locke:                Second Treatise on Government, Letter on Toleration 
Adam Smith:               The Wealth of Nations 
J. J. Rousseau:            The Origins of Inequality, The Social Contract 
Thomas Jefferson:      The Declaration of Independence 
James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay: The Federalist Papers    
                                 The Constitution of the United States of America 
Mary Wollstonecroft: Vindication of the Rights of Women    
Edmund Burke:          Reflections on the Revolution in France 
Jupiter Hammon:        An Address to the Negroes 
Giambattista Vico:     The New Science 
Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy in America 
Thomas Robert Malthus:On Population 
Karl Marx:                 Theses on Feuerbach, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, The Communist 
                                  Manifesto, Das Kapital 
John Stuart Mill:          On Representative Government, Utilitarianism 
Henry David Thoreau: Civil Disobedience 
Max Weber:               The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Politics as a Vocation, Science as a Vocation 
Mikhail Bakunin:          God and State 
Vladimir Lenin:            The State and Revolution, What Is to Be Done 
Emile Durkheim:          The Division of Labor in Society, Suicide 
William James:             The Principles of Psychology 
Jessie Weston:             From Ritual to Romance 
James George Frazer: The Golden Bough 
Thorstein Veblen:        Theory of the Leisure Class 
John Maynard Keynes: The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money 
Simone de Beauvoir:    The Second Sex 
Karl Popper:               The Open Society and its Enemies 
Milton Friedman:         Capitalism and Freedom 
Friedrich Hayek:          The Road to Serfdom 
Ruth Benedict:             Patterns of Culture 
Richard Wright:           Native Son 
James Baldwin:           The Fire Next Time 
John Kenneth Galbraith: The Affluent Society 
Paul Ehrlich:                The Population Bomb 
Noam Chomsky:         Syntactic Structures and Aspects of a Theory of Syntax 
Rachel Carson:           Silent Spring 
Martin Luther King:    Letter from the Birmingham City Jail 
Malcolm X:                Autobiography 
Betty Friedan:            The Feminine Mystique 
Robert Dahl:              Democracy and Power in an American City 
Rosabeth Moss Kanter: Men and Women of the Corporation 
Alfred Chandler:        Visible Hand 
Dee Brown:              Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee 
Marian Wright Edelman: Families in Peril 
Hannah Arendt:         The Human Condition, Eichman in Jerusalem 
Howard Zinn:           A People's History of the United States 
Whitney Young:       Beyond Racism 
Maria Mies:             Patriarchy and Accumulation 
Karl Polanyi:           Great Transformation 
John Gaventa:          Power and Powerlessness 
Lani Guinier:            The Miner's Canary 
Alison Jaggar:          Feminist Politics and Human Nature 
Steven Levitt:          Freakonomics 
Tim Harford:           Undercover Economist 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
References and Notes
 1 Mortimer Adler, A Second Look in the Rearview Mirror: Further Autobiographical Reflections of a Philosopher At 
Large  (New York: MacMillan, 1992). It may be noted that 25 centuries ago, Presocratic philosophers (such as Thales, 
Anaximander, Anaximines, Pythagoroas, Parmenides, and Hericlitus) were already engaged in a search for rational and 
universal principles for the explanation of the natural world. For example, Anaximander, Anaximines, and Pythagoras each 
worked with concepts of self-limiting aperion (meaning “that which cannot be completed”—the infinite) with striking 
similarities to twentieth century conceptions of a self-limiting, self-organizing universe. 
2 At this and other points in this proposal, language has been adapted from current descriptions of the core curricula at two of
universities that pioneered the Great Books Core approach and that continue to make good use of it: Columbia University and 
the University of Chicago. We hope to interest SIUE colleagues in making further references to these leading programs. This 
particular passage is adapted from the description of the core curriculum at the University of Chicago, where the Great Books 
approach was developed. See http://collegecatalog.uchicago.edu/liberal/curriculum.shtml
3 Adapted from the goals of the Foreign Language Core Requirement of Columbia College, Columbia University. 
See http://www.college.columbia.edu/core/classes/fl.php

4 Adapted from the description of the Core Curriculum at the University of Chicago. 
See http://collegecatalog.uchicago.edu/liberal/curriculum.shtml 
5 From the description of Contemporary Civilization course of the Core Curriculum at Columbia College of Columbia 
University. See http://www.college.columbia.edu/core/classes/cc.php 
6 This approach was used by D.K. at SIUE (Physics 111) to great acclaim by students. Aspects of it were pioneered by 
Eric Rogers around 1960. See also Conceptual Physics, 9 th edition, by P. Hewitt, Physics for the Inquiring Mind by 
E. Rogers and Physics Teachers' Guide V by E. Rogers. 
7 Under the steady direction of Professor Steve Cox. The Revelle College Humanities Program at UCSD is the basic model 
for this Bridge Design Proposal. 
8 The Four Core Curriculum incorporates the Freshman Seminar requirement rather naturally; so naturally, in fact, that the 
discussion section format of the Four Core Structure might eventually make the Freshman Seminar requirement redundant. 
This is because all freshmen students would find themselves in multiple seminar-style discussion sections of 15 students or less. 
These discussion sections would focus upon critical discussion and expository writing, and would ometimes be led by a full 
time faculty member. 
9 We are grateful to Jennifer Rehg for suggestions on physical anthropology and to Jack Glassman for a few other suggestions.

10 We are grateful to Denise DeGarmo, Skip Larkin, Linda Markowitz, and John Meisel for their suggestions in compiling this 
list. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  

BRIDGE Proposal Overview - Self-Assessment

1. How does your proposal support the values of SIUE (citizenship, excellence, integrity, openness and wisdom)?

Our proposal stresses excellence and high standards all the way through our Four Core Program. The Four Cores are: The Global Core, The Humanities Core, The Social Science Core and the Mathematics and Natural Science Core. We believe that only through insistence on excellence and maintaining of authentically high standards in each of these Cores can SIUE really achieve a first-rate program. Within each of our Core programs, this is accomplished through rigorous and extensive critical thinking, serious and extensive reading (see our reading lists in the proposal appendices) and discussion with colleagues, extensive writing and professional level presentation, along with special emphasis on understanding how ideas developed and honest intellectual integrity. All four of our Cores are designed to train students to think independently, but with empathy to all other human beings and with open awareness of the ethical and moral consequences of decisions. They are designed to prepare our students to become effective Global citizens, leaders and compassionate and empathetic decision makers. As we emphasize in our proposal, through the great ideas, we see and appreciate how we became civilized, what civilization is, its value, and its fragility. Understanding ourselves and the interconnections of our humanity is the guide to wisdom.

2. How does your proposal support the stated objectives of the baccalaureate degree (oral/written communication 
skills, analytic/problem-solving skills, value of diversity, scientific literacy, ethics, foundation in the liberal arts 
and sciences, preparation in/for a discipline)? 
The SIUE Objectives for the Baccalaureate degree are the major goals of each of our Four Cores curricula. All four of our 
Cores strongly emphasize problem solving and communication skills, the latter being essential to the vitality of modern 
civilization. The Humanities, Mathematics and Natural Sciences and the Social Science Cores stress the critical analysis of 
great ideas, and aim to rigorously develop skills for critical exposition. Ethical issues are stressed in all four Cores, and ethical 
considerations from each are applied to analogous issues in the others. All Cores (including Mathematics and Science) 
emphasize the diversity of ideas and cultures, with the Global Core especially focusing on cultural diversity. The Mathematics 
and Science Core stresses that all branches of science manifest deep connections with liberal arts, the profoundly parallel 
development of ideas in science, philosophy, and literature and the diversity of contributing cultures as necessary for the 
progress of science, as new ways of thinking result only from diverse sources and contexts. 
3. Does the proposal support the diverse range of needs of SIUE's student body and the special needs of the 
various professional and academic programs at SIUE? Supporting the diverse range of needs of our students while at the
same time providing a first-rate background for future professional work in a variety of fields is a major goal of our proposal. 
The stress on logical reasoning, critical thinking and communication skills emphasized by all four Cores is necessary for 
success in all intellectual walks of life and in all professional programs. In the science core, cause and change, ratio and 
proportion are emphasized and applied to a wide range of phenomena. The rigorous emphasis on the development of ideas 
and on reasoning reflects the program design to provide a solid foundation for advanced work. 
4. Does the proposal respond to and address the ‘emerging concerns' of the faculty for general education 
(integration, information, communication, application)? 
We emphasize the parallel development of ideas in liberal arts and science. Key is the integration of seemingly disparate, but, 
in fact, unified ideas from many fields. Frequently, this involves applying techniques developed in one field to issues in 
another – e.g., ethical development to science, mathematical technique from science to social sciences, ideas from psychology 
and philosophy to global studies and vice versa. Success in this involves scholarly understanding of information, ability to 
reason by analogy and the development of the skills necessary to communicate across traditional discipline boundaries. As we 
emphasize in our proposal, the ability for communication across disciplines is vital for the survival of modern society, which has 
developed disparate intellectual cultures that do not communicate. Our proposal aims at addressing this issue. 

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