Ethnic Studies with professors and hiring power
Major Cultures with classes on colonialism and race
responsibly through community input
Increase administrative support

This is what we are fighting for. Support the strike & sign the petition. Contact us at

Friday, November 2, 2007

Demands: Core Curriculum

Columbia's Core Curriculum has been criticized for decades for not only its Eurocentrism, but its marginalization of nonwhite peoples within the West, and the issues of racialization and colonialism. While there have been additions throughout the years of a Major Cultures requirement, and individual texts such as The Souls of Black Folk, The Wretched of the Earth, and the Haitian Revolutionary Constitution, these efforts to remedy the Core have been insufficient in concept and execution. The Major Cultures requirements often take place in large lectures, where contrasting to the intimate seminars of other Core classes, content mastery can take priority over critical thinking, and the texts and themes that have been inserted into CC, Lit Hum, and Music Hum often seem to be tokenized additions rather than incorporated into a transformed conception of the Core. As such, we call for continued reassessment of all Core requirements, not as simply a matter of representation, but in developing a Core Curriculum that does not marginalize critical thinking about racialization, colonialism, sexuality, and gender. The Core Curriculum is not only out of step with Columbia's students, but does not even tap into the resources of the intellectual work done by faculty who address the issues marginalized by the Core in their own work. The inadequacies of the Core Curriculum are not only intellectual problems, however. As the Core is one of the central pillars of a Columbia education, its marginalization of the issues of racialization, colonialism, sexuality and gender further marginalizes and traumatizes students themselves.

In this state of affairs, the University must work with greater urgency and consideration of the decades of dedication by students, alumni, and faculty to reshape the antiquated Core Curriculum into one that represents the values of a diverse, global, intellectually vibrant and just University. Towards that end, we recommend:


1. The reformation of the Major Cultures requirement to contain a course in a seminar format which challenges students to think critically about the issues of racialization and colonialism, global phenomena which also are at the Core of the "Western" experience.

Given that these recommendations have been on the table for decades, we realize that we are saying nothing new, and that more than simply asking is required for their execution. Therefore, we also call for further measures of accountability to students. Given that every Columbia student is required to take the Core Curriculum, we feel that the limited student participation in the Committee on the Core, the Committee on Instruction, and their various subcommittees is evidence of inadequate use of the resources of the student body. We call for:

2. More student voice and seats within these committees, and that their process of selection be better publicized, so that students' passions for changing the Core do not have to flare up in moments of spectacle, but can be incorporated into the constant process of developing the Core Curriculum.

Furthermore, we would like to point out that many Barnard students have similar concerns about the 9 Ways of Knowing and have been involved in changing the curriculum both at Columbia and Barnard. However, we are cautiously optimistic about the initiative shown by Barnard's faculty and administration to address our concerns. We hope that Columbia faculty and administration can look to and communicate with Barnard to think about the ways to best be accountable to student needs, as we all belong to a larger community.