Committee Final Report

August 31, 2016

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

The Core Curriculum Review Committee has developed a final report which is now available for faculty consideration. You may read the report here:

University of Notre Dame - Core Curriculum Review Committee - August 2016 Final Report 

This report reflects a shared vision for strengthening Notre Dame’s Catholic liberal arts education while providing our undergraduates the knowledge, dispositions, and skills that will prepare them to become the professional, community, and Church leaders our world needs. It is based upon two years of committee meetings and discussions.

We were pleased with the generally positive response to the draft report issued last November, and with the questions, comments, and suggestions we received from colleges, schools, departments, individual faculty members, and the wider campus community. As a result of these extensive conversations, the committee incorporated a number of changes—most minor, some substantive—into this final version of the report.

In many cases, the revisions offer clarity where the committee learned it was needed—on AP credit, writing, advising, and double-counting, for instance. The committee also revisited nomenclature. We still unanimously support a “ways of knowing” approach, but decided to go with more straightforward names for these proposed course categories (art and literature instead of aesthetic analysis, for example). 

A significant alteration concerned governance. We heard from many faculty a desire for more clarity in the procedures that would permit a particular course to be “counted” for a given requirement. We have proposed a more detailed vision of the course approval and governance structure that we hope has ameliorated this concern. Relatedly, we also formed a task force to draft possible learning goals for the Quantitative Reasoning requirement as a test case. We were pleased to see a group composed of faculty from multiple colleges, led by colleagues in Mathematics and Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics (ACMS), come to quick and unanimous agreement on those goals. (This draft document is included as appendix B to the report.) 

Another substantive change involves the distribution of the general liberal arts requirements relating to the arts, humanities, and social sciences. In the draft proposal, students would take three courses chosen from three of five categories. In this final proposal, students would take one course in the category of art, literature, or advanced language and culture; one course in the history or social science category; and one Integration course or a course in a way of knowing not yet chosen from one of the previous two categories. This rearrangement better satisfies our goal of intellectual breadth across disciplines and areas of study, and we are grateful for the departmental and individual responses that led to this change as well as others.

Early in the fall semester, this final report will be presented and discussed at each college council or equivalent body, the Faculty Senate, and the Academic Council. Given that these changes are the most substantive to the Core Curriculum since the late 1960s we are not eager to rush deliberation of the recommendations. Still, we anticipate that Academic Council will vote on the proposal before the end of the fall semester. 

If approved by Academic Council and, ultimately, the University president, the new core curriculum would presumably take effect in fall 2018, allowing adequate time for various units on campus to plan for the changes.

Thank you for your participation throughout the entire decennial core curriculum review process. We look forward to hearing from you this fall as we consider this important matter.


Michael Hildreth
Professor of Physics
Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies
College of Science

John McGreevy
Professor of History
I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean
College of Arts and Letters