A lot has changed over fifty years, including the Core Course. Text books have given way to on-line articles, Ted talks, and blog posts. Topics now include cloning, artificial intelligence and space travel. Although the Core length has shrunk from three quarters and 15 units to one quarter and 3 units, the purpose remains the same as in 1968: To examine the role of science and the scientist in our society.
Why the change in length? Back when Crown was new, the faculty were College members as well as Department members. Like us, faculty had self-selected to be part of an experiment in undergraduate education. By the 1980s throughout all of the campus, Academic departments eclipsed the Colleges. Academic department buildings were erected, faculty moved from their college offices, and the teaching of Core course became more of a burden than an experiment. All across campus, three quarters became two quarters and then shrank to one. Instruction was turned over to adjunct faculty.
Dr. Manel Camps, Crown’s Provost, believes that the Core Course is important not only academically, but socially as well. It is the common experience of all Crown first year students and is important in building a community. Most of Crown’s students are the first from their family to attend a University. Dr. Camps points to studies that show that students are more likely to graduate on time, if they feel they are part of a supportive community. For that reason, he has used Provost discretionary funds to hire more instructors and lower class sizes. For the past two years he has also has funded an experiment in which Crown alumni participate in Core course via distance, acting as both fellow students and mentors.