May

2

GS Gets a Core Workout

Written by

According to an email sent out by Dean Awn, General Studies is undergoing changes to its Core Curriculum in order to “bring about closer alignment between the GS Core and the Columbia College Core.” These changes include the adoption of Literature Humanities, Contemporary Civilizations, and the Global Core. The changes go into effect for students entering in the fall, and are listed in more detail here.

Dear Students,

I am excited to let you know about an exciting change to the GS Core Curriculum that will bring about closer alignment between the GS Core and the Columbia College Core.

The GS Core Curriculum

Contemporary Civilization Requirement
Columbia’s Contemporary Civilization course was forged between 1917 and 1919 as a course on questions of war and peace.  Today, it works to inform students about how human beings forge communities – be they political, social, moral, or religious.  GS is adopting the “Contemporary Civilization” requirement (COCI F1101 and COCI F1102)   while still allowing for approved substitutions.   Approved substitutions for the “Contemporary Civilization” requirement will be two social science courses.

Literature/Humanities Requirement
Established in 1937, Literature Humanities (HUMA F1001 and HUMA F1002)   is one of the foundations of the Columbia Core.  GS is adopting the Literature Humanities requirement (while still allowing for approved substitutions). Approved substitutions for this requirement will be two literature classes, or one literature class and one humanities course.  As was previously the case, one literature class must be completed at Columbia.

Global Core Requirement
The Global Core is one of the most recent additions to the Columbia Core, and it seeks to educate students about areas that are not the primary focus of either Contemporary Civilization or Literature Humanities.  The Global Core consists of two courses from the approved list of Global Core courses. At GS, the Global Core requirement will replace the current Cultural Diversity requirement.  (N.B.: Courses taken for the Global Core will not “double-count,” as is the case with our Cultural Diversity requirement.)

Who Is Affected

New Students

The new policy applies to students accepted to GS for or after the summer term of 2012.

Continuing Students

If you have met the Cultural Diversity requirement, you need not take the Global Core – although you may do so if you wish.

If you have not yet met the Cultural Diversity requirement, you will have the option of fulfilling either the Cultural Diversity requirement or the Global Core requirement.  You will need to decide which program you will complete before the start of the spring 2013 semester.  Students who opt to complete the new Core requirements will complete the Global Core, Literature Humanities, and Contemporary Civilization/Social Sciences requirements as noted above.

You should check with your GS academic advisors to clarify any questions or concerns you may have about these upcoming changes and give some thought as to which option you wish to pursue going forward.

Please join with us in acclaiming these new academic policies, developed so that all undergraduates at Columbia can share the same educational experience.

Sincerely,

Peter J. Awn

Dean

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27 Comments

  1. quick

    somebody tell me if I should be irate or ambivalent on GS' behalf

    • AndEnnuiGo  

      Much of that will depend on how the administration sets up those sections of the core. As it stands, GS has separate UW sections. If AwnBo and Co. create GS-only sections of LitHum, CC and GloCore, you can count on an outpouring of GS rage.

      Such a separate-but-equal treatment, while creating a cosmetic "alignment" between the two schools, would only serve to further isolate GS from the rest of the student body and, in the wake of the GS class day debacle, would probably create a lot more tension between GS and the administration.

      The counter-arguments--if anyone has time to troll--could revert to the tried-and-true "we don't want them in our classes"/"they don't deserve to be here" song-and-dance that often prevails when anything GS-related comes up.

      • Anonymous  

        GS only sections of these classes already exist, they're in the directory as Fxxxx instead of Cxxxx.

        I think the GS community will be pretty divided, just as CC is. Some students really like the core, and it's part of why they came. Many hate it, and don't want to be forced to take anything outside their major.

        • Hmm

          Don't think GS students will be divided at all, as it has hardly no substantive change for us. Rather, the increased number of LitHum/CC sections due to the new "requirement" will either be a positive (for those GSers who came for the core) or irrelevant.

          These changes are welcome, and can only help to improve the quality of a GS education. However, with that said, I agree with AndEnnuiGo that "separate but equal" courses will only be inevitably unequal and further GS isolation.

          If Dean Awn was even remotely concerned with bridging the gap between the two communities, he'd push for further integration in UW/LitHum/CC sections. Art and Music Hum are already integrated, and JTS/GS students take "C-section" UWriting classes, neither of which seem to be causing any issues.

  2. cc student  

    the legacy of the core belongs to the college. it forms our unique identity. such an "alignment" can only serve to devalue its history and meaning.

  3. GSer  

    The CC and LitHum changes aren't actually changes in terms of requirements. GS students can and do take LitHum and CC, in F section classes. Previously they fulfilled the requirements, but the majority of students opted to substitute other Literature & Humanities classes instead. Now students can still substitute, but the way the requirement is structured makes CC/LitHum more strongly encouraged.

    Dean Awn has previously said he'd like to make CC and LitHum essentially required, but doesn't have the funding to hire enough faculty to teach them. Perhaps this indicates an increase in funding, and additional CC/LitHum sections.

    The Global Core is a reasonably large change. Previously many students took Asian Art or Asian Music to fulfill either Music/Art Hum AND the Cultural Diversity requirement in a single class. That will no longer be possible. For all those students this would mean an extra class.


    As a GS student who came to Columbia for a strong liberal arts education, I welcome the change. I'm already planning on taking LitHum next year, and may or may not take CC depending on scheduling.

  4. AndEnnuiGo  

    I will grant that the core is an integral part of the collective identity of CC, but to say that it "belongs to the college" is...questionable.

    Similar logic could lead one to say that prior to 1982, Columbia University "belonged" to men, with 200+ years of a corresponding "unique identity." Would you argue that the introduction of women to the student body devalued the university's history and meaning?

    Returning to the core, does the inclusion of GS sections of University Writing devalue the core? Do you or anyone you know ever think, "LENS ESSAYS ARE EVEN MORE WORTHLESS NOW THAT FORMER MARINES (or whatever) HAVE TO WRITE THEM?"

    In all earnestness, how, exactly, does this change devalue CC or the core? The curriculum doesn't appear to be changing. There's no mention of a change in any texts. I see no reference to accommodations being made in order to give special or preferential treatment to anyone. Indeed, if anything, this should help settle the "they don't belong here" argument one way or the other.

    Should, but it won't. This is a troll's wet dream and every time it comes up here, online disinhibition rides roughshod over reason and the comment sections manage to embarrass all involved.

    This "alignment" is happening whether anyone at GS, CC, SEAS, or BC likes it or not. Wouldn't separate sections actually devalue the core MORE by creating a passively hostile "separate, but equal" environment that would only exacerbate whatever tensions already exist (and fanned to such fury in fabulous flamewars before finals) here?

    If it's simply a matter of someone saying, "I don't like people in GS," that's fine: at least that's some sort of admission of a personal prejudice. It's when these arguments try to fall back on narratives of "our" shared "history and meaning" or "unique identity" attributed to a "legacy" that the slope becomes slippery. Whom do you claim to speak for and by what right do you claim to speak for them?

    There's always someone at Columbia (or anywhere, really, but particularly at elite institutions) that can claim a right to be more entitled than the next person to be where they are. The question is, how far are you willing to go to assert that right and how honest are you willing to be about the basis of your assertion?

  5. Holy shamoley.

    I'm so glad I'm graduating.

  6. Anonymous

    GS are not going to take Lit Hum or CC because they are way too much work and way too much reading. They can take so many easier substitutions now with less work.

  7. CC'14  

    LitHum and especially CC should be a part of GS, not because of this or that relationship of GS to CC, but because

    most
    of
    those
    books
    are
    fucking
    great.

  8. Anonymous  

    I read recently in a Bwog comment that there was recently talk of merging CC and GS (ok, probably not the MOST reliable source, but even if it's not true, my question remains). If that is true, why was the possibility abandoned and what were the stated pros/cons of the merger? To me it seems like merging them would be able to alleviate the feelings of GSers that they are not a legitimate part of the Columbia undergraduate community and take the fuel from the fire of CCers saying that GS students are less impressive.

    • AndEnnuiGo  

      There's a brief history of that on wikicu.

      Basically, it fell apart when CC alums threatened to stop making donations.

      Frankly, if GS ever wants to see a merger with CC, it's going to have to tighten up its admissions standards and, ideally, show up with a very large chunk of money to buy a seat at the CC table. Period.

      The Eli Whitney Students Program at Yale (Yale's non-trad undergrad program) is an example of how to do it: it has an acceptance rate that is actually LOWER than that of their traditional students. Aside from housing (and this might have changed), EWSPers are fully integrated into Yale. They also have need-based tuition assistance.

      The other issue with GS is that many GS students DON'T want to integrate into traditional undergraduate life: this doesn't make assimilation any easier. This point is often ignored by GS reps when they talk about wanting equal treatment. I'm not saying that GSers need to learn to "pass" as traditional UGs, but they should realize that despite whatever their circumstances may be, university life is primarily designed for 18-22 year olds who are starting their lives. That doesn't mean there's not a place for them in the matrix of higher education, just that they are a minority and as such, have a minority voice.

      • Anonymous  

        The Eli Whitney program is a dozen students. GS is 2000. Not really comparable.

      • GS'11

        While I fully support the merger, another point of contention (for some) is the history/purpose of GS. It was founded for veterans to take advantage of the GI bill, and today it is often a "second college" for people who began somewhere else, left for whatever reason, and are now returning (different from regular-aged transfers). GS is much more open and flexible about transferring credits from other schools than CC is, allowing students to essentially "finish" their education at Columbia if they started somewhere else. A merger with (or, more likely, absorption into) CC would probably eliminate some of those options, thus not fulfilling one of GS's "purposes."

  9. Anonymous

    For someone who seemed tohave such a reasonable take on the GS situation, this comment is petty, nasty, and cruel. As a graduating senior who is proud to be a Columbia student with GS, I bite my thumb at you, sir. (or madam, such as the case may be)

  10. I'm a new GSer

    Because I wanted to really explore the humanities more after taking off several years from academia. I am most certainly not an academic, unlike most of the 17year old CC frosh... I learned about "coming of age" from my own life experience and not from reading The Odyssey on a Friday night when everyone else was out being hedonistic. I was the epitome of a hedonistic motherfucker....I was also fortunate to personally make over $12 million in the Manhattan real estate market without an Ivy diploma or any degree for that matter. I feel bad for the kids graduating with all that debt and attending CCE job fairs in hopes of landing a measly 45k salary. Sometimes (most of the times...) it's not the school that opens doors- you gotta kick down your own doors in this life to be successful. No one in the "real world" gives a flying fuck if you can recite the entire Wealth of Nations, but yes your future father-in-law will be impressed at the dinner table....

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