It takes a certain degree of intellectual comfort to decide you’ve conceived a brilliant new direction for a century-old course. Writing it up and sending it to the entire roster of CC praeceptors, the Committee on the Core, and Deans Yatrakis and Quigley, on the other hand, takes an almost suicidal hubris. One sophomore did, and a bemused recipient passed the e-mail on to Bwog:
Date: 11 December 2007 16:17:23 EST
Subject: Columbia’s Core
To whom it may concern,
You are receiving my email because you are on the Core Committee or are a preceptor for a Contemporary Civilization class. In my final essay for Contemporary Civilization, the material of the essay required that I either deny my own words or take some form of action. Attached you will find the essay that has propelled me, headlong, to this email. I think you will find that it embodies the essence of the Core Curriculum, especially CC, and is an example of what I consider to be the true power of the Core: the push to a critical evaluation and re-evaluation of the world in which we live and to action to change that world for the better. I hope that you will take the short amount of time necessary to read the document (and perhaps a little longer to consider the way it could affect your own reality).
Thank you for your time,
The attached 12-page paper put Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed in dialogue with the Leviathan, and pronounces that “CC still maintains remnants of the authoritarian view of education found in Hobbes,” with suggestions for non-canonical texts that might be introduced to introduce an alternate perspective. The conclusion reads as follows:
“This essay is my reflection on my current situation. However, my realization of the structure in which I reside is not enough to achieve “liberation”, which can only be the result of a collective effort. Thus, I appeal to you to take into consideration the implications of my praxis and form your own. The syllabus need not be discarded immediately, it is comprised of wonderful books, but perhaps the inclusion of another source, or a class decision regarding the optional choices in the syllabus would constitute a step in the right direction.”
Ah, the brash naivete of youth!