Principles and Strategies for Reforming the Core Curriculum at a Catholic College or University

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The core curriculum is essential for the flourishing of a Catholic college or university, as it is one of the most visible ways in which a distinctive vision becomes incarnate. Catholic colleges tend to offer some mission-centered majors and minors, but the core is what is present for all students. The core is not only significant, but also complex, for the process of developing, revising, implementing, and overseeing the core brings together what is not always in harmony: the college’s vision, administrative structures, departmental interests and priorities, faculty capacities, and student needs and preferences. Most colleges revisit their core on a regular basis. What principles and strategies might guide those discussions? What might the vision look like, and what might be realizable? This paper examines those questions and, above all, explores the meta-issues of reforming and fostering a curriculum, beginning with the question of leadership and ending with practical questions of faculty development. I give less attention to the question of which courses Catholic liberal arts colleges should require, though I do explore options, including a modifi cation of the widespread tendency to delegate all mission courses to philosophy and theology.

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