Boston College undergraduates leave the Heights having studied a range of disciplines—from art and music to mathematics and the natural sciences—through the Core Curriculum. Each student must satisfy the Core requirements listed below, including at least one course that emphasizes cultural diversity.
The need to make, experience, and comprehend art has been one of the essential, defining human activities since history began. The arts are thus integral to human experience and expression, the development of critical interpretive skills, an understanding of creative processes, and the fostering of imagination and empathy. The critically engaged practice of the arts, arrived at through rigorous training, uniquely nurtures creativity and innovation. Anchored in experimentation and creative problem-solving, the arts challenge students to make connections across traditional disciplinary boundaries.
Three credits of coursework in art history, studio art, film, music or theater are required and will address some combination of the following criteria: students will acquire a greater understanding of the technical skills required to create works of art; students will gain knowledge of the aesthetic questions raised by works of art; and students will understand the historical contexts in which such works were created. As a result, students will be able to engage meaningfully with art through creative work and/or to articulate their understanding of art in oral and written expression.
Engaging Difference & Justice courses will challenge students to envision societies in which all can flourish in freedom, integrity, and fullness of life “through the mutual respect their members show to one another in their interactions and relationships.” These courses fulfill the Cultural Diversity Core requirement by engaging with the following learning goals:
Students will reflect on the importance of community, shared values, inclusion, and solidarity at all levels of social connection- from the familial to the global.
Students will engage critically with past and present instances of injustice. Complex issues concerning race, class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, religion and other socio-cultural categories may be explored.
Students will integrate the theoretical and empirical study of difference and power in their many forms; reflect on their own experiences and identities; and connect academic knowledge to lived experience.
Students will imagine how to flourish in communities in ways that evaluate and embrace difference and overcome injustice by becoming engaged global citizens in service of, and in care for, our common home.
Students will explore the conditions that need to exist, and how to create those conditions, for all of society’s members to live fully human lives of freedom and integrity.
Difference, Justice and the Common Good Courses fulfill the Cultural Diversity Core requirement by engaging with the following learning goals:
Students will be able to explain how power shapes differences and creates injustices in the United States, and how power can be used to achieve justice. In the context of the university’s Jesuit, Catholic mission, and as appropriate in the particular course, students encounter and engage the reality of a broken world that calls out for justice, love, and mercy.
Students will develop skills to think more critically about how difference and power have operated both in the past and present. Such skills may include intercultural competence, engaging with diverse others, reflection on one’s own experiences and identity, integrating the theoretical and empirical study of difference and power, and connecting academic knowledge to lived experience.
Students will explore the relationship between justice and the common good and imagine how to act constructively in dialogue with people who are marginalized and dispossessed in the pursuit of justice and the common good.
A critical component of a liberal education is the capacity to see human experience from the point of view of others who encounter and interpret the world in significantly different ways. Courses in Cultural Diversity, by introducing students to different cultures and examining the concepts of cultural identity and cultural differences, are aimed at developing students' appreciation of other ways of life and providing a new understanding of their own cultures.
More specifically, the Task Force envisions a one-course Cultural Diversity requirement being fulfilled by:
Cultural Diversity courses could be designed as departmental offerings or as interdisciplinary courses and could approach the culture in various ways: through its religious or ethical values; from an understanding of its historical development; from the perspective of its social, economic and political systems; or from an appreciation of its literary, artistic or other cultural achievements.
The Cultural Diversity requirement functions as a graduation requirement, and, unlike other Core requirements, may be fulfilled by a course above the Core level. It may simultaneously fulfill another requirement of the Core or the major.
History Core courses offer long-term and global perspectives on the social, economic, political, and cultural factors shaping human experience. They introduce students to the importance of historical context and the process of historical change by examining which aspects of human life have changed and which have endured over time and across different regions of the world. Students learn how to interpret the past using primary sources, and they acquire breadth of knowledge, a critical framework, and analytical skills. By studying past events, students develop an understanding of the historical roots of contemporary societies and come to view the present with a sharper eye, appreciating that it, too, is contingent and will one day be re-examined and reconstructed. Through this process, students become better-informed and more open-minded whole persons, prepared to engage in the world.
Studying a broad sweep of time is essential to forming a rich sense of history. Toward this end, and as part of the Core Curriculum, students take two (2) three-credit History Core courses, one pre-1800 and one post-1800. Learning history also involves more than books and lectures. We learn by doing, and the History Core shows that history is alive and that we are part of it. In addition to reading documents, examining artifacts, writing essays, and attending lectures, students move outside the classroom to explore living history in interdisciplinary ways. We make use of the outstanding resources on campus and in the greater Boston area, visiting museums and historic sites, attending special presentations and performances, and conducting oral interviews.
Classical Studies - English - Romance Languages and Literatures - Eastern, Slavic and German Studies
Literature, in all its genres, is a fundamental vehicle for understanding human experiences. By taking three credits of the Core Curriculum in literature, students read in order to explore the characteristics and values of their own and other cultures; to discover alternative ways of looking at the world; to gain insights into issues of permanent importance and contemporary urgency; and to distinguish and appreciate the linguistic and formal satisfactions of literary art.
To read literature critically is to examine the human condition through language’s expressive power and to place the reception of literary works in cultural, historical, and social contexts. In Literature Core courses, students will be introduced to disciplinary skills including close reading, analysis of texts, and the practice of writing about them with clarity and engagement. Through shared critical and reflective inquiry, students will explore ways in which meaning is textually produced in the world.
Mathematics has been a significant component of human knowledge throughout history, and today its reach has expanded beyond the natural sciences and technology to encompass the social sciences, business, law, health care, and public policy, among other fields. The study of mathematics fosters the use of quantitative methods to analyze diverse problems, the urge to recognize commonality in such problems and seek generalization, comfort with mathematical abstraction, and the ability to solve problems in new and unfamiliar contexts. Mathematics is universal, and a well-educated person will rely on these skills throughout life.
Students taking one (1) three-credit Core course in mathematics should therefore:
Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Physics
We live in a vast and complex universe and natural world, from the largest cluster of galaxies to the smallest subatomic particle. Science is our way of making sense of and understanding nature through systematic observation and experimentation. Scientific knowledge is organized through logical, theoretical, and mathematical frameworks. Mindful of the impact that discoveries and technology can have on our society, we seek to apply scientific understanding to the ultimate benefit of humankind.
The Natural Science Core consists of two (2) three- or four-credit courses in Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences or Physics. Students completing the Natural Science Core will:
Philosophy has a permanent and central place in Jesuit higher education and is an important part of the Boston College Core Curriculum. By introducing students to the great philosophical questions, philosophy offers a perspective which makes possible an integrated vision of physical, human and spiritual reality; it weighs propositions fundamental to personal identity, dignity, religious belief, and social responsibility; and it examines moral issues that affect individuals and communities. The philosophy Core teaches critical and analytical skills so that students develop an intellectual and moral framework for considering questions of ultimate value and significance, challenging them to translate philosophical principles into guides for life. All Core offerings in philosophy bring students to reflect critically on the kinds of claims made in different disciplines from the natural sciences to theology by considering questions about the nature of reason, evidence, belief, and certainty. The two (2) sequential three-credit courses in the philosophy Core aim to teach students that the philosophical habit of mind is part of a well-lived life, providing the perspective and tools for critical evaluation of and engagement with contemporary problems and questions.
Theology is the disciplined reflection on the mystery of God in the world and on the traditions of belief, worship, and ethics that shape communities of faith. It explicitly reinforces the tradition of Jesuit humanism, which prizes the scholarly investigation of religious faith and its impact on human culture. The study of theology is an essential feature of the Core Curriculum in a Jesuit, Catholic university. This implies an institutional commitment to the Roman Catholic tradition, but also encourages the study and understanding of other theological traditions.
The goals of the Core requirement in theology seeks to:
The Core requirement in theology is six credit hours and may be fulfilled with one Sacred Texts and Traditions-designated course and one Christian Theology-designated course; alternatively, students may fulfill the Core requirement in theology by completing the twelve-credit sequences THEO/PHIL 1088-1089 Person and Social Responsibility I and II (i.e., the PULSE Program) or THEO/PHIL 1090-1091 Perspectives on Western Culture I and II.
For the core requirement in Theology, including a list of Sacred Texts and Traditions- and Christian Theology-designated core courses, please see the Theology Department website.
Boston College’s First-Year Writing Seminar (FWS) is a 15-person workshop designed to help you develop and practice skills in writing and research. Over the semester you will learn to write rhetorically, devising effective writing processes for a variety of purposes and audiences, including but not limited to, academic writing. Each workshop allows you to work creatively on a variety of writing tasks and to put yourself in conversation with other writers. You’ll meet regularly with your instructor to make revision plans, learn to give and receive productive feedback to other writers, and develop skills for revising essays before submitting them for evaluation. You may also work with classmates to present and "publish" your work within various classroom, campus, or internet settings.
One goal of FWS is to teach you a variety of strategies to practice in a range of writing situations which, in turn, will help you to understand and plan for subsequent writing challenges in your future academic, professional, and personal lives. Another goal of FWS is to give you the tools and the incentive to keep writing after the course has ended: in other courses, in your community, and for your own pleasure. Part of learning to write well, especially in academic settings, involves putting yourself into conversation with current arguments using the conventions and tropes of relevant discourses. In FWS you will also be introduced to library resources and will practice writing and documenting secondary research.