A Look at the New Core

Posted by Caitlin Joyce on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 4:24 PM PDT


How would you like to take a class called, “Sociological Digest: The Sociology of Food,” “Knowing What We Cannot See: Electricity,” or “Occupy the Parthenon! Religion and Protest in the Ancient World?” These are just some of the course options open to the students in the new Core Curriculum.

“After 25 years (with our current Core), it was clear we are a different university, our students are different, our world is different, the academic disciplines in the Core have evolved, and this is an opportunity to reshape it from the ground up,” explained new Core Director, Dr. Jeffrey Philpott.

Dr. Philpott sat down with us to explain just how the Seattle University educational experience is evolving with the introduction of the new Core curriculum compared to our alumni’s experiences of the last 25 years. “If an alum were to come back as a student, the three major differences they would see in their education would first be a greater focus on inquiry and how to ask questions. Classes are also smaller, with a maximum of 19 students in a class, which will invite more interaction.

 Secondly they’d see that there is more choice and flexibility. Where all students were required to take the same courses previously, now they can choose from a wide variety of courses with a broader representative of disciplines and faculty than ever before. All students will be learning the same objectives and values in these courses, but they’ll be taught in different ways. 212 faculty members have created new courses, allowing students to choose from over 350 course options to meet their core requirements.

And finally there’s a greater representation of faculty and disciplines represented in the core. There are class offerings across campus and departments that were never involved before. Students can be studying finance but learning Jesuit-values.”

The new core has four learning objectives:

1. Every student will have good background knowledge of the Jesuit-Catholic tradition. Students will reflect on questions of meaning, spirituality, ethics, values, and justice.

2. Students will understand where knowledge comes from and how to take part in inquiry. They’ll be active participants in the process of discovering knowledge, so that they are engaged learners.

3. Communication – Students will learn the tools to take what’s in their head and put it out into the world, with a focus on advocacy, writing, speaking and teamwork.
4. Global engagement – Students will understand issues confronting the world and how to be active agents for change. They will develop a basic understanding of how to interact with those from other cultural backgrounds. And study abroad will be made much easier; students can potentially fulfill all of their ’Engaging the World’ requirements while studying abroad.

When Dr. Philpott shared the new core with faculty and staff at Mission Day, the response was overwhelmingly positive. “I want to go back to school just so I can study those courses,” a Seattle University alumna, turned staff member, said.

“My hope is that the Core becomes a visible, signature program for the university,” said Philpott. The Core is the central educational experience of our undergraduates, and it’s an important part of our identity and educational mission. It is, in many ways, a cutting-edge Core. It uses best practices based in research. I think this is a Core that will get noticed by other universities. It will get noticed by parents of students as something distinctive about a Seattle University education.”

Parents definitely did take notice when Dr. Philpott explained the new Core to prospective students and parents at the Accepted Students Open House. “As a parent, I was really impressed. It was the kind of education my son would be engaged by, and one that I think would really help him learn the material,” Corinne Pann, a prospective parent shared.

An in depth overview of the core and class offerings can be found online.

What do you think of the new core? Are these they types of classes you’d be interested in auditing?