Insistent Change: Columbia’s Core Curriculum at 100

2010s and Today

2010s & Today: A Course Born Revising Itself

While Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents (1930) was for many years CC’s last required text on the syllabus, many non-Western and late 20th-century works have since appeared as requirements over the past decade. These include the Qur'an and several classics of Islamic philosophy, Gandhi's Hind Swaraj and foundational works in postmodern critical theory, post-colonial studies, gender studies and, most recently, dominance feminism and critical race theory – the discourses that have provided critical rigor to the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements.

Contemporary Civilization was designed in 1919 not as a monument to the society and culture of its day but as a deliberative process by which successive generations of Columbia students might arrive at democratic solutions to the problems of their own time. The course itself was meant to change through constant consultation among students, faculty, administrators, and alumni. And over a tumultuous century CC has changed, dramatically, identifying in the process curricular remedies to its own limitations.

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