With a New and Improved Core, Students Should Make the Most of It

This Year’s Updated Core Gives Students More Opportunities to Become Well-Rounded Individuals


Published: October 22, 2009

Students in the class of 2013 and beyond should feel very lucky to have the recently implemented new version of the core curriculum. Substantially improved, this new core will give incoming students the same opportunity to grow as it did to past students, but it will do so much more concretely.

The new core features a number of major changes. First, by distributing the curriculum throughout all four years, the new core encourages student initiative. For students who experienced the old core, the attitude has been to get through the core as quickly as possible in order to get to the higher-level classes—the ones about which students are actually excited. With the new core, it becomes possible to encounter exciting and provocative upper-level courses earlier. The distribution over four years also encourages students to be more intentional in finding interdisciplinary connections. For example, one of the capstone courses in this curriculum is an interdisciplinary seminar in literature, history or a social science.

An important improvement is in the language requirement. Previously, a student took language classes twice per week for five semesters to achieve exit-level. This was not conducive to truly grasping a language’s vocabulary or grammar. The new five-credit, three-days-per-week introductory courses make more sense. A second improvement is that the language requirement creates two outcomes: either you reach the advanced exit level or the intermediate exit level in a language. So if a student begins at the introductory level, the exit course is that language’s Intermediate II course. For students who begin at the intermediate level, their exit course is the Advanced course. This means no student will be forced to stretch their language coursework into three years, allowing for more flexible scheduling.

Encouraging participation in service learning is another benefit to the new core, allowing students to engage in the distinctly Jesuit mission of building homines pro aliis, “men and women for others.” With service learning, students test out what they learn in the classroom in the real world. They have the opportunity to apply their skills and talents towards building a more just society by spending approximately 30 hours of a semester working with a community agency such as a homeless shelter, a tutoring center or a community court. These service placements allow students to witness social and structural inequalities, an experience that is essential to the ability to properly diagnose social injustices and propose solutions.

Perhaps the most intentional improvement is the introduction of Eloquentia Perfecta (EP) seminars, which are designed to develop a student’s ability to reason effectively in writing and in speech. This is particularly important to counter the downward turn of interpersonal communication skills in a world of mass communication technologies, with the prevalence of sound bites, texting and 140-character Twitter updates. The EP Seminars focus on qualities that are difficult to come by in today’s world: critical thinking, reasoning and deliberation. In developing these qualities, Fordham students will be better equipped to fairly and articulately debate the ethical, political and societal issues today. They will also be better formed to consider different viewpoints, which will empower them to engage in effective dialogue.

Taken as a whole, the new core curriculum pieces together the elements of the old core in a more concrete way, thereby giving students the tools to absorb and live the mission of the University, which is to “foster the intellectual, moral and religious development of its students and prepare them for leadership in a global society.”  From here, it is up to the student to make the most of this opportunity and really make the new core shine.