Policy

The Curricular Proposals and Recommendations approved by Academic Council on April 8, 2003, created a system in which committees composed of faculty from multiple departments take responsibility for selecting and monitoring all courses that are designated as fulfilling a Core Curriculum requirement.

In April 2014, Academic Council approved the Moreau First Year Experience as an addition to the Core Curriculum; the change took effect with the first-year class who entered the University in academic year 2015–16. All first-year students are now required to complete the year-long, two-course sequence as a unique curricular element. A common syllabus is utilized in these courses, and specific content is managed collaboratively by the First Year of Studies and the Division of Student Affairs in lieu of a specific Core Curriculum subcommittee.                                      

I. The Core Requirements and Designated Academic Units

II. Formulation of a Rationale for Each Core Requirement

III. Core Curriculum Subcommittees (CCS)

IV. On the Composition of Core Curriculum Subcommittees

V. The Role of the Core Curriculum Subcommittees

VI. Core Curriculum Committee (CCC)

VII. The Role of the Core Curriculum Committee

VIII. The Moreau First Year Experience

I. The Core Requirements and Designated Academic Units

The following is a list of the core requirements and the academic unit or units which normally offer courses fulfilling that requirement. The latter will be referred to as the designated academic unit(s), or just designated unit(s), for that requirement.

  • Writing and Rhetoric  – The University Writing Program
  • Fine Arts – The Department of Art, Art History, and Design; the Creative Writing component of the Department of English; the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre; and the Department of Music
  • History – The Department of History
  • Literature – The Departments of Classics, East Asian Languages and Cultures, English, German and Russian Languages and Literatures, and Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Mathematics – The Department of Mathematics
  • Philosophy – The Department of Philosophy
  • Science – The Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Physics, and Preprofessional Studies and the Environmental Geosciences component of the Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences
  • Social Science – The Departments of Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology
  • Theology – The Department of Theology
  • University Seminar – A University Seminar may fulfill any of the above requirements for which there is a significant writing component, except Composition.  For a particular University Seminar offering, the designated unit will be the one designated for the requirement the seminar is designed to fulfill.

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II. Formulation of a Rationale for Each Core Requirement

For each core requirement, a brief rationale (roughly 1-2 pages) will be formulated stating the contribution that the required course will make to a student’s education. It will state the knowledge, skills, experiences, etc. that students should acquire through the course or courses that will satisfy this requirement. Once rationales are approved, a course which fulfills a core requirement will be directed to imparting to students the knowledge, skills, experiences, etc. specified in the rationale for that requirement.

The rationale will be drafted either by a department or a drafting committee, as specified below for each core requirement. The department or committee will draft the rationale and send it to the Core Curriculum Committee (see section VI below) for comment. The Core Curriculum Committee may make suggestions for possible changes, and the relevant department or drafting committee will make changes as it deems appropriate. The final version will then be sent to the Academic Council for approval. The Academic Council may make changes to the proposed rationale, but only after consulting the relevant department or drafting committee.

The drafting of a rationale for each core requirement will be done by the following bodies:

  • History, Mathematics, Philosophy, and Theology – The designated department will draft the rationale in a manner determined by the Departmental Chair.
  • Fine Arts, Literature, and Social Science – For each core requirement, the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters will appoint a drafting committee, which will include representatives from each department designated for that requirement. The Dean will also appoint one member of the committee to serve as the chair.
  • Science – The drafting committee will be chaired by the Dean of the College of Science. The Dean of Science will appoint two faculty members of the designated departments of the College of Science to serve on the committee. The committee will also include the Dean of the College of Engineering and one other member of the College of Engineering appointed by the Dean of Engineering.
  • Writing and Rhetoric – The Director of the University Writing Program will chair the committee, and will appoint two other members to the committee. The Provost will appoint two other members.
  • University Seminar – University Seminars fulfill one of the core requirements, and each University Seminar will be guided by the rationale for the requirement the course is designed to fulfill. In addition, the Core Curriculum Committee will draft a rationale for the University Seminar specifying the specific educational features all these seminars must have.

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III. Core Curriculum Subcommittees

For each core requirement, a Core Curriculum Subcommittee (CCS) will be formed. III, (A) - (G) below describes the standard composition of such subcommittees, while IV, (A) - (D) immediately following gives notes on and possible exceptions to the standard composition.

A. Writing and Rhetoric: The Director of the University Writing Program will serve as chair, and he or she will appoint two members of the subcommittee. The Provost will appoint two members from outside the University Writing Program.

B. Fine Arts: The CCS will include the Chair of the Department of Art, Art History, and Design; a faculty member teaching Creative Writing in the Department of English who is appointed by the Chair of that Department; and the Chairs of the Departments of Film, Television, and Theatre and Music. The Dean of the College of Arts and Letters will appoint one of these as chair of the subcommittee. The Provost will appoint two additional members. Since this subcommittee is already inter-departmental in virtue of its ex-officio members, it is permissible though not necessary that the Provost's appointees be regular faculty within the designated units.

C. History, Mathematics, Philosophy, and Theology: The CCS will be composed of five members. The chair of the CCS will be the chair of the designated department, and he or she will also appoint two other members of that department. The Provost will appoint two additional members who are regular faculty in departments other than the one designated for the requirement.

D. Literature: The CCS will include the Chairs of the Departments of Classics, East Asian Languages and Cultures, English, German and Russian Languages and Literatures, and Romance Languages and Literatures. The Dean of Arts and Letters will appoint one of these to serve as chair. The Provost will appoint two additional members. Since this subcommittee is already inter-departmental in virtue of its ex-officio members, it is permissible though not necessary that the Provost's appointees be regular faculty within the designated departments.

E. Science: The Chair will be the Dean of the College of Science, and he or she will appoint two other members from the designated departments of the College of Science. The Dean of the College of Engineering will also serve on this committee and appoint one other faculty member from the Engineering College to serve.

F. Social Science: The CCS will include the Chairs of the Departments of Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology. The Dean of the College of Arts and Letters will appoint one of these to serve as chair of the CCS. The Provost will appoint two additional members. Since this subcommittee is already inter-departmental in virtue of its ex-officio members, it is permissible though not necessary that the Provost's appointees be regular faculty within the designated departments.

G. University Seminar: The University Seminar will have no independent CCS, but each one will fall under the CCS for the requirement which the particular seminar is intended to fulfill.

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IV. On the Composition of Core Curriculum Subcommittees

A. Provostial Appointments: In making appointments, the Provost is urged to consider various factors which would bring the optimal balance of perspectives and skills to reflection on the required courses. Ideal candidates would be those who have some expertise or at least acquaintance with the relevant field or fields, yet who can bring the perspective of another department, college, or discipline. The chair of the CCS may make recommendations to the Provost regarding these appointments.

B. Designee Members: In the case of subcommittees described in (B), (C), (D), and (F) above, the Chair of a department may, with the approval of the Dean of the college of that department, designate a member of that department to serve on the subcommittee in his or her place. In the case of the Science subcommittee (E), the Dean of the College of Science and the Dean of the College of Engineering each may, with the approval of the Provost, designate a member of his or her respective college to serve in his or her place.

C. Term of Members: The term of Departmental Chairs and Deans on these CCSs will be for as long as they hold these offices. Those appointed by the Provost, a Departmental Chair, or Dean will serve for a three-year renewable term.  

D. Size and Composition of Subcommittee: With the approval of the Provost, the size and composition of a subcommittee may be altered to achieve the optimal balance of members. However, for any subcommittee it is necessary that the majority of members are from the designated academic units, and the subcommittee is chaired by a chair of a designated department or a designee, or, in the case of Science, by the Dean of the College or a designee, or, in the case of Writing and Rhetoric, by the Director of the University Writing Program.

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V. The Role of the Core Curriculum Subcommittees

Each CCS will seek appropriate ways to enhance teaching and learning in the courses fulfilling the requirement under its purview and to ensure that they accord with the rationale for that requirement. Each CCS has a judicial role of approving or denying approval to courses proposed to fulfill the relevant course university requirement, and the formal process for this approval is described below. However, the CCS must also see its role as providing assistance, encouragement, and advice to individual faculty on how their proposed course might more effectively attain the goals specified in the rationale. CCSs, then, are urged to work with faculty to help them improve their courses, and not simply render judgments on them.

Courses proposed to fulfill a core requirement must be approved in one of the following ways:

A. Approval of a Course Proposed by a Member of the Designated Department(s) or Unit(s)

These procedures are used by a faculty member with a regular or concurrent appointment in the department, or one of the departments, or another academic unit designated for the relevant core requirement.

  1. Normal Procedure for Approval:

    An instructor, with the approval of his or her departmental chair, submits a syllabus or other appropriate description of the course to the CCS. The deadline for submission will be determined by the relevant subcommittee. The CCS then considers whether the proposed course can be expected to meet the objectives specified in the rationale. The CCS may ask for more information from the instructor, or may suggest ways in which the course might be enhanced and ask the instructor to resubmit the syllabus or course description. The CCS then decides by a majority vote whether the course will be approved. In case of a tie vote, the course is not approved. The CCS is encouraged to work with the instructor to make the course acceptable to fulfill the requirement. However, if the CCS finally does not approve, it gives its reasons in writing to the instructor. Once a course is approved, another instructor from a unit designated for that requirement may teach the course without seeking further approval, provided that the instructor retains the syllabus or course description under which it was originally approved.
     
  2. Exceptional Procedure for Approval:

    a. A course may be proposed too late to be reviewed by the CCS (as may happen, for example, when a new faculty member is hired, or a visitor offers a course). In this case the chair of the relevant CCS may approve the course for one semester. The chair will inform the subcommittee of his or her decision and the reasons for it. The subcommittee must approve the course before it can be offered again to fulfill the relevant requirement.

    b. A course taught at another institution may be proposed to fulfill a core requirement by a transfer student or a participant in a foreign study program. The Core Curriculum Committee will be charged to formulate procedures and guidelines for approving such courses (see section VII.C below). Until those procedures are formulated, the Chair of the CCS may approve such courses in consultation with the CCS.

B. Approval of a Course Proposed by a Faculty Member Outside the Designated Department(s) or Unit(s)

Faculty without a regular or concurrent appointment in the designated department(s) or unit(s) may propose a course to the CCS as fulfilling the relevant core requirement. In this case, although it is not an absolute requirement, the presumption will be that the instructor proposing the course has a Ph.D. or other appropriate terminal degree which would qualify him or her to teach the course in a manner that would satisfy the relevant rationale. The CCS then decides by a majority vote whether the course will be approved. In case of a tie vote, the course is not approved. If the CCS feels the faculty member is qualified to teach the course, it is encouraged to work with the instructor to make the course acceptable to fulfill the requirement. However, if the CCS finally does not approve, it gives its reasons in writing to the instructor.  

C. Review of Previously Approved Courses

An instructor teaching a course in successive semesters will normally make adjustments and improvements in it, and it is not necessary to seek approval from the CCS after each change. However, each CCS will establish a cycle of review for approved courses every three years. For such a review, the instructor will submit his or her current syllabus or course description along with a statement of what changes have been made since it was approved and a brief account of what the instructor has found successful in the course and what challenges remain. In this review the CCS should ensure that the course continues to achieve the goals set forth in the rationale for the requirement, but it should also see the review as an opportunity to enhance instruction. If an innovative component of a course has proven particularly successful, the committee should take note of this and pass the information on to faculty teaching similar courses; if a course has proven unsuccessful in certain respects, the committee should offer suggestion on how to improve it.

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VI. Core Curriculum Committee (CCC)

A Core Curriculum Committee (CCC) will consist of an Associate Provost designated by the Provost, the chairs of the nine CCSs, the Dean of the First Year of Studies, the Academic Commissioner of Student Government, and up to five faculty members appointed by the Provost which will include representatives from the Mendoza College of Business, the College of Engineering, and the College of Science. The Associate Provost will serve as chair of the committee.

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VII. The Role of the Core Curriculum Committee

The Core Curriculum Committee (CCC) is the body concerned with the core requirements as a whole. Its specific responsibilities are the following:

A. Seek Ways to Enhance Learning in the Core Requirements: The committee will be concerned with the core requirements as a whole. It will promote the creation of new courses, foster excellence of instruction in new and existing courses, advocate for the needs of faculty and students in them, and generate proposals to improve teaching and learning in these courses, such as proposals for interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary courses, innovative approaches to teaching, or more effective use of faculty resources. In this capacity, the CCC will make recommendations as appropriate to the Academic Council, the Provost (see VII.D below), a Dean, a Departmental Chair or department, faculty, or another relevant unit or individual(s).   

B. Hear Appeals of Proposals to CCSs: If a faculty member proposes a course to a CCS and the subcommittee’s final judgement is negative, the faculty member may appeal to the Core Curriculum Committee. The CCC will consider the written judgement of the CCS, the faculty member’s response, and may consult the CCS and the faculty member further. The CCC can by a majority vote refer the decision back to the CCS for reconsideration.

C. Approval of Credit for Core Requirements for Courses Taught at Other Institutions: The CCC should consider procedures and guidelines for approving courses for credit for core requirements which are taught at other institutions, as is necessary in the case of transfer students and participants in foreign study programs. It should work with the various CCSs to establish guidelines and procedures which are clear, fair, and consistent.

D. Submit Annual Report to the Provost’s Office: Each year the Core Curriculum Committee will submit to the Provost’s Office a report on instruction in the core requirements, and send a copy to the Undergraduate Studies Committee of the Academic Council. The report will include data on the availability of classes fulfilling core requirements, size of classes, indications of the quality of learning, measures of student satisfaction, and suggestions and proposals about ways in which education of students in these courses can be improved.

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VIII. The Moreau First Year Experience

The Moreau First Year Experience is inspired by the pedagogical vision of Blessed Basil Moreau, professor, priest, and founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross. A two-semester, graded course sequence—FYS 10101 in fall (one credit) and FYS 10102 in spring (one credit)—it helps new students to integrate their academic, co-curricular, and residential experiences.

The Moreau syllabus, common to all sections of the two courses, is organized around multiple themes, including orientation to University life, health and wellbeing, community standards, cultural competence, academic success, spiritual life, and discernment. They build upon the Five Pillars of a Holy Cross Education as distilled from Fr. Moreau’s writings: mind, heart, zeal, family, and hope.

As Fr. Moreau said in Christian Education, “Education is the art of helping young people to completeness.” The Moreau First Year Experience is an important step in the journey towards an interconnected and purposeful education in which students, regardless of their faith tradition or beliefs, conceive of their education as a holistic development. Through their Moreau courses, students come to understand the complexity and expectations of the Notre Dame community, take advantage of crucial academic and University resources, learn how to cultivate and maintain a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle, become aware of and engage with a variety of communities, heighten their understanding of diversity and inclusion, and think deeply about their academic, creative, professional, and spiritual lives.

A collaborative effort between First Year of Studies and the Division of Student Affairs, the Moreau First Year Experience speaks to several imperatives of the University’s strategic plan. In particular, the courses embody the idea that Notre Dame’s Catholic character should inform all its endeavors; nurture the formation of mind, body, and spirit; enrich the integration of intellectual, extracurricular, and residential experiences; and deepen the potential of cross-cultural engagement.

Moreau instructors—faculty and professionals representing more than 50 campus units—facilitate weekly discussions and guide students through this experience, drawing on three key principles:

  • Integrative, Student-Centered Learning: By using a flipped classroom model, students preview materials (texts, articles, videos, etc.) common to all sections in advance of class and prepare short written prompts. The small class size (fewer than 20 students) is conducive to in-class discussions that allow classmates to engage each other and the materials, raise concerns and questions, and make connections to related content as well as to their own experiences on campus. Discussions also underscore important, recurring themes and call attention to campus resources, activities, and events. Through ePortfolio assignments and optional digital badges, students reflect in a thoroughly integrative fashion, not only using both text and media, but also making connections between ideas and experiences inside, outside, and across classes.
     
  • Comprehensive Mastery: Students are expected to succeed in this class, as they are truly at the center of the experience, learning more about themselves, the Notre Dame community, and a myriad of communities with which they will have interactions. Course topics reinforce the skills, knowledge, and dispositions needed for a successful collegiate experience as well as a broad understanding of issues facing college students more generally.
     
  • Critical, Independent Thinking: The topics of the Moreau First Year Experience have emerged recently in national discussions of higher education. The course materials present diverse and sometimes controversial opinions and research. Students are challenged to think critically and independently about the readings and viewings of the course, to develop their own opinions, to listen attentively, and to respond respectfully to others.

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