What is Core?

Facts about Core

  • 95% of Scripps full-time faculty have taught in Core
  • 91% of students agree Core is a challenging academic experience
  • 80% of students believe Core fosters an intellectual community
  • 86% of students think Core contributes to Scripps’ uniqueness as a college

The hallmark of a Scripps education, the Core Curriculum in Interdisciplinary Humanities is a three-course series in which students learn to critically analyze issues from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. A common Scripps experience, Core gives you a distinctive new outlook that stays with you long after the course ends. That’s why you’ll find our students discussing the concepts of Core in the dining hall, residence halls, and other classes.

The current theme for the sequence, “Histories of the Present,” encourages Scripps students and faculty to explore the historical roots of present-day problems and issues. Our students say that Core is one of their most valuable experiences, calling it both eye-opening and mind-expanding. One recent Scripps graduate likened Core to “Miracle-Gro for the brain.”


Core I

With readings from fields such as philosophy, evolutionary biology, political theory, and literature, the first semester of Core introduces you to some of the major debates and concepts that have shaped our modern world. This broad-based, foundational course challenges students to question their assumptions about human nature and human difference. It is taught by 15-18 faculty from various departments across campus. All first-year students meet together weekly, with each faculty member rotating to lecture in his/her area of expertise. During the remaining meetings, faculty members leads small discussion seminars, where students discuss and debate readings and lecture topics in a more intimate setting. Scripps students take Core I during fall semester of their first year.

Sample Core I Lectures

  • “The ‘Great Arc’ of Human Possibilities: Culture, Difference, and Human Nature” (Prof. Liss, History)
  • “Counter-feminicide Activism in Mexico: Imagining a Global Culture of Human Rights from Locality” (Prof. Sanjuán-Pastor, Hispanic Studies)
  • “Being Human: A Scientist Asks if Morality Evolved by Natural Selection” (Prof. Copp, Biology)
  • “Identity, Recognition, and the Political” (Prof. Scott-Kakures, Philosophy)
  • “The Nature of Intelligence” (Prof. Armstrong, Biology)
  • “Virginia Woolf and the Problem of Other People” (Prof. Matz, English)

Core II

The second semester of the Core Curriculum provides an opportunity for more focused interdisciplinary study. Either singly or team-taught by our faculty, these classes average 20-25 students each. You’ll choose from more than 20 course offerings that delve into how topics connect and intersect. Scripps students take Core II during spring semester of their first year.

Sample Core II Courses

  • Beyond Good and Evil
  • Incentives Matter: The Economics of Gender and Choice
  • “Once Upon a Time”: Psychological and Literary Approaches to the Fairy Tale
  • The Roar of the Lion: The Lives and Deaths of Animals
  • Nationalism and Culture
  • Sleep: Nature, Nurture, Mystery

Core III

In the final semester of the Core Curriculum, students in engage in a hands-on project designed to foster innovation and collaboration. With an average of 15 students in each seminar-style class, you’ll engage more deeply in a specialized topic and create an independent project. Scripps students take Core III during fall semester of their sophomore year.

Sample Core III Courses

  • What is Happiness?
  • Foreign Language and Culture Teaching Clinic
  • Ecological Justice
  • Islam versus the West? Unraveling the Terms of “Clashing Civilizations”
  • Keywords: The Words We Use and the Way We Use Them
  • Blues Jazzlines: Past and Present Tense
  • Women, Girls, and Mathematical Superstitions
  • Sites of Seduction: Aesthetic Contexts of the French Garden and its Others

Community-Building and Core

A shared Core experience means that, among other things, help is never very far away. With a common set of readings and assignments, Core I students often discuss key themes from the course over dinner, form study groups before exams, and brainstorm for papers together.

During your first semester at Scripps, your Core I discussion leader is one of four key people who will support you as you make your transition to college life. Your faculty adviser, your peer mentor, and your resident adviser will also act as your “go to” people who know you well. These interlocking spheres of support can answer almost any question you have, from academic requirements, to balancing your schoolwork load, to the location of the nearest Target. Combined with the care and diligence of the entire faculty and staff, you will be well supported during your time at Scripps.