Vision Statement: Part Five
The Undergraduate Core Curriculum
An 86-hour core curriculum of carefully selected subjects required for all students is Christendom College’s fundamental response to the crisis in higher education explained above. It is a response deeply rooted in perennial truth and long centuries of Catholic learning. This extensive core curriculum is constituted from seven discipline areas: three years of study in Theology, three years in Philosophy, two years of study in English Language and Literature, two years of study in Classical or Modern Language, two years in History, one year in Political Science and Economics, and one year in Mathematics and Natural Science. It is a curriculum worthy of any young mind. It is an arduous good requiring sacrifice and courage from any student wishing to attain it and from any faculty member wishing to impart it. As such, it is the kind of good that no consumer survey is likely to affirm or endorse amidst the futile but seemingly pressing hyperactivity of our culture. Yet this kind of education is urgently needed by the future citizens and leaders of our nation, by the fathers and mothers of our children, and by the priests and religious of our Church, if we are not to slip blindly into the dark and chaotic night of a dying West.
Second, the required courses in History, Literature, and Classical and Modern Languages reflect Christendom College’s commitment to the Western cultural heritage. History provides an awareness and appreciation of the triumphs and failures of man in building, maintaining, and defending the Faith and Christian culture. Since the Incarnation, history becomes an essential study in the now ennobled temporal journey of man through time until the end of time, giving transcendent significance to all that men do either to advance or to hinder the cause of Christ. Literature develops the student’s moral imagination as he reads epic, tragic, lyric, and dramatic works of Western man. These literary works assist the student in the right ordering of his passions in the service of reason and truth. In this way, the student’s reflection on the exemplary sufferings and hopes of fictional men and women overcomes the modern disassociation of sensibility and reason. Classical and modern foreign languages not only enhance the above disciplines by allowing the student to enter more fully into the documents and life of past and present cultures, thereby transcending present limitations, but they enable the student better to grasp the nature and structure of language itself. In particular, mastery of Greek and Latin opens the riches of Biblical and ecclesial literature and the sources of Christian culture. History, literature, and languages support Thomistic wisdom by enriching the student’s intellectual experience.
Third, the required courses in Political Science and Economics focus the student’s theological and philosophical studies through an examination of political theory and social reality. The student is introduced to classical political philosophy and the rich social teaching of the modern Popes. Such essential elements of Catholic thought as natural law, social justice, subsidiarity, and the common good are examined. The student is shown how these principles differ fundamentally from Marxist collectivism on the one hand and from a materialistic utilitarianism on the other.
Christendom College believes the student will carry with him upon graduation the perspectives and consolation of Christian wisdom. Moreover, his developed skills in analysis, synthesis, reasoning, and written discourse will enable him to excel in whatever career choice he makes.
By the adoption of its core curriculum, Christendom College has rejected the proliferation of majors and the consequent perceived equality between all disciplines so characteristic of the modern multiversity. The College sees that the speculative credentials of many modern disciplines are problematic, either in their very principles or in their actual practice. Yet the growing numbers and academic demands of these disciplines have been primarily responsible for the destruction of core curricula in American universities of the past century. For Christendom to multiply majors and new academic departments would be to invite a reliving of this often tragic academic history. It is Christendom’s 86-credit-hour core curriculum, ordered by Thomistic wisdom within a historical matrix, that makes it unique in American higher education.