CORE: Human Values in a Pluralistic Cultural

By Marissa McCrary

Core:  Human Values in a Pluralistic Culture

The Core Integrated Studies Program is the oldest ILLC at the University of Dayton.  Core is a 2 ½ year, innovative curriculum that stresses connections between academic disciplines, while also fulfilling many Common Academic Program requirements.  Students take carefully-coordinated courses in the humanities, arts, and social sciences that center around a common theme, “Human Values in a Pluralistic Culture.”  Extracurricular arts events, lectures, and other activities related to course content are additional aspects of this unique and challenging program.

Fall 2016 brought another steadily rising cohort of 117 students into the Core Program.  Fall semester kicked off with an ice-cream social for first-year students, faculty, and Core Fellows.  As students found their groove, coursework unfolded at a rapid pace.  Dr. Spina even made a surprise, yet inconspicuous, visit to an ASI 110 lecture in Sear Recital Hall, where – as the president later blogged – he found students “listening with rapt attention” to Tony Smith’s presentation on “competing Jesus movements in early Christianity.”  First-year students also attended the 2016 First-Year Arts Immersion Experience: The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, a Dayton Philharmonic performance at the Dayton Schuster Center.  

Second year Core students studied a wide range of topics throughout the fall semester.  Many engaged in numerous service-learning projects or UD fall breakouts and plunges.  These experiences ranged from tutoring children at Dayton urban elementary schools to volunteering at community outreach centers, such as El Puente, Mission of Mary Farms, and Adventure Central at Wesleyan MetroPark.   These programs provided students with examples of community building and illustrated the dimension of social inequalities.  

Third-year Core students in fall semester completed their final Core capstone courses.   Students in Dr. William Marvin’s class met guest speaker, Peter Benkendorf, a Dayton community leader behind many community building initiatives, such as the Collaboratory, Third on Third, and Dayton Diversity Mural.  Students in Dr. Ernesto Velasquez’s class wrote papers about the 43 students who disappeared in Mexico on September 26, 2014.   Subsequently, Dr. Velasquez’s students had the profound opportunity to meet three parents of the missing students in November, when UD welcomed them to campus.   Shannon Egan, a junior international studies major who will complete the Core Program this spring, later blogged about the experience.  “It is an incredible privilege to be able to learn about these issues during our college career.  It raises consciousness throughout the student body and makes one think about the most effective ways to act on a host of difficult problems,” she said.

During spring semester, second-year Core students in Dr. Samuel Dorf’s Music in Film class (MUS 327) analyzed song lyrics to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow": - “I pounded away at the piano, and I made the students sing, and then we talked about vulnerability, hope, and ‘the dreams that we dare to dream,’” said Dorf.  “It was great!” he said.  Students in Dr. Meghan Henning’s Disability in the Bible class (REL 214) have plans to meet guest speaker, Melody Moezzi, a writer, activist, and award-winning author.  Moezzi is an Iranian-American Muslim who speaks about Islam, Iran, human rights, feminism, and mental health.

Students and faculty in the Core Program experienced another enriching academic year.  First-year students participated in the Collegiate Learning Assessment +, which measures critical thinking skills. So many CORE students completed the assessment that the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts and Sciences threw them a celebratory party during study hours.  First-year Core students received immeasurable peer support throughout the year from Core Fellows, Core RA’s, and Core Write Place Consultants.  This unique blend of students assist with class assignments, papers, and exam preparation.  The dedicated Core faculty, staff, and supportive students are hallmarks of the Core Program and a testament to its longevity and continued success.  Approximately 70 students have completed all program requirements, and will attend the annual Core Program “graduation” banquet in early spring.

--  Marissa McCray ’00, Core Program Assistant

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