Core: Evolution and Consistency

A lot has changed over fifty years, including the Core Course – 
but the purpose remains the same as in 1967:
To examine the role of science and the scientist in our society.

By Jim Lapsley (Crown ‘71)​

Crown’s Core Course took one-third of our first year at Santa Cruz. It was a major investment of student and faculty time. That investment introduced us to faculty and to each other and it provided a common understanding of the impact of science and scientists in modern society. The Core Course still serves those basic purposes but, like us, has evolved over the past half-century.

We bring you one student’s memory of the first Core Course. We also have a copy of the original Core Course syllabus for 1968-69, and are still searching for the original course syllabus for 1967. If any of you discover it in your papers, please contact us!

After the first few years of shared lecturing by Crown faculty, William Hitchcock moved from Cowell to Crown. He had taught the Cowell core course, History of Western Civilization, and assumed responsibility for the Crown Core course. With that change, Core was no longer a collective enterprise of Crown faculty. Following the rise of the departments in the early 1980s, the core course in most colleges was reduced from three quarters to one. Lecturers were hired to instruct the course. 

The current core course, which focuses on emerging technologies, is still intended to build student communities while encouraging critical thinking about technology and the scientist’s role in bringing technology to society. Provost Manel Camps offers his thoughts on the current structure and the future of The Core Course.

If the above sparks memories or corrections, please share them with us in the Comment section below and/or in The Forum.


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