For Educators

This section provides a little more on the methodology and pedagogy of our Core Curriculum at Saint Joseph's College.

In 1969 the faculty of Saint Joseph's College took a radical step in redesigning the general education curriculum. Instead of requiring a certain number of courses in the various departments, all students would take part in an integrated, transdisciplinary program of studies, taught by members of various departments, called the Core Curriculum.

In the academic year 2004-05, we began our 35th year of what continues to be recognized as an innovative approach to general education. The Core Curriculum is structured around the overarching theme of "Christian Humanism." As a College the pursuit of Truth is our focus. This pursuit of Truth encompasses truths about our world, people and God. There are three guiding values:

  • The world is God's creation
  • Respect for human dignity
  • Religion - God's revelation is diverse and draws all people to Himself

All disciplines are examined throughout the students' four years. Students begin their study with the "Contemporary Situation" and are challenged to expand their horizons throughout the fours years of Core. Students are challenged to find relationships among the various disciplines, and to examine their own values and beliefs in relation to the Christian Tradition. Throughout all four years, students work to develop verbal and written communication skills, learn to share ideas with classmates in discussion, and are exposed to different values and cultures.

For faculty, it is a continual learning experience, as they challenge students and themselves to see from a wider perspective, the connections between various disciplines. Even among the faculty, conversations about Core have engendered a collegiality unlike other institution. Faculty of various disciplines meet to plan the Core curriculum each semester. Additionally, there have been numerous development opportunities for faculty to discuss curricular concerns and to assist in the development of teaching pedagogies. Since its inception in 1969, the structure of the Core Curriculum has remained basically the same. However, the content of each segment of Core has changed and developed to keep pace with current scholarship in these areas. The Curriculum is guided by these six goals.

How does it work?

Twice a week, the entire class (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) and faculty teaching in a particular Core gather for a presentation in one of our auditoria. These common presentations are most often a lecture by a faculty member having expertise in the topic to be discussed. At other times there may be a video presentation, guest lecturer, or student panel. Prior to the presentation all students read a common assignment. Following this, students meet in smaller discussion groups (usually 16-18) with a professor to discuss texts and lectures. In these small discussion sections, writing assignments are given and tests and quizzes are administered.


One of the key components of the Core Curriculum is writing. Students will, on the average, write about 20-25 pages each semester in Core. The writing component is developmentally structured so that students build upon prior work in the Core Program. Various types of writing assignments are utilized to help students develop written communication skills. Within the past four years, there has been a concerted effort among the faculty to coordinate writing assignments in the departmental classes with writing assignments given in the Core Program.


Over the course of the four years, students will have read a great deal. Great books from the west and the east are a part of the curriculum. You may check out what this semester's Core classes are reading on the Core syllabi.

Transfer Evaluation

In place of general education courses in English Literature, English Composition, History of Western Civilization, Speech, Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation, Science or Mathematics, Philosophy and Theology, Saint Joseph's College operates an interdisciplinary liberal arts program. This approach treats each subject in an historical framework, examining the problems of each period studied. The essence of the approach is to create in the student a solid grounding in communications, social responsibility and personal awareness.

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of Core courses, some institutions experience difficulties determining how to apply these credits toward their own general education requirements. Contemporary Situation may be distributed as 3 credits of English Composition I and 3 credits in Introductory Sociology or Contemporary Issues. Modern World may be distributed as 3 credits of English Composition II and 3 credits of US Government, US History I, American Literature, 19th Century Literature, or Modern European History. Western Civilization I may be distributed as 6 credits in any combination of Old Testament, Introduction to Philosophy, Ancient History and Introduction to Drama/Theatre. Western Civilization II may be distributed as 6 credits in any combination of New Testament, Medieval History, Medieval Philosophy, History of Christianity, or Art History. Humanity in the Universe I may be distributed as 3 credits of Physical Science and Humanity in the Universe II as 3 credits of Life Science or Anthropology. India and China, Latin America and Africa may be distributed as 3 credits in History, Political Science or Literature. Towards a Christian Humanism may be distributed as 6 credits in Religion and Philosophy. Christianity and the Human Situation may be distributed as Ethics or Moral Theology.


Excellence, Liberal Education, A United Endeavor, Intelligence and Faith: A memoir on the development of the Saint Joseph’s College Core Curriculum from its founding in 1968-69 to the present. Author: Dr. John P. Nichols of Saint Joseph's College

Judgments of Quality (2013) - The role of mission in assessment of liberal education. Produced by the Association for General and Liberal Studies. Editor:  Dr. John P. Nichols of Saint Joseph's College

A United Endeavor (2009) - General education at the service of mission. Project Director:  Dr. John P. Nichols of Saint Joseph's College

Events Calendar

Explore the Core
  • SJC Education Students in the field

    Start Your Major Freshman Year

    Like Elementary Education major Brittany Cooper ’12, you start your major as soon as you walk in the door, so you will have four years of knowledge and experience in your field.You can even change your mind about your major and still graduate on time with lots of experience.

    Core and the major work in harmony to develop the cognitive skills requisite for success in a competitive, global society. Students better understand the forces that shape the future by exploring the past. They discuss contemporary events; analyze the impact of science on our understanding of humanity and the universe; and investigate diverse cultures and world civilizations. 

  • Professor Fred and Sally Berger at Graduation


    Small colleges offer you personal attention; SJC professors, such as Communication Professors Fred and Sally Berger, do more for you—they serve as mentors. Studies show that having a mentor leads to success in your field. Alumni often tell us how their professors not only played a major role in their success, but also became lifelong friends.  If you are undecided about what to major in, we help you decide.

  • High Quality Academics

    In the Core Program, you will be inspired to debate, analyze, and solve problems. Discussion of culture and society, the modern world, and Christian Humanism are just a few highlights of the Program. New perspectives will be gained, your worldview will expand, and you will graduate from SJC as a well rounded, highly marketable person.

  • Visiting Chinese Students


    You get more deeply involved at SJC, so you get more meaningful experiences that prepare you for career and life. LaMichelle Sanders ’14, for example, has spent two summers helping Chinese study abroad students adapt to life in the U.S. and at SJC. If you want to start a club or activity that doesn’t exist, we encourage you to start one. At SJC, prepare yourself for what you want to do in life.

  • Hoop House student workers

    Real-life Skills

    Because of the skills you develop by having the Core Program interact with your major for four years in addition to internships, job shadowing, and service learning, you get hands-on experience in preparation for your career or graduate school. Students Hanna Kane ’14, Emily Baird ’15, and Alyssa Guarnaccia ’14 collect food in the SJC hoophouse to be distributed on campus. You will also get four years of analytical, writing, and speaking skills that will serve you well for the rest of your life.

  • Images of Students

    Start Your Major Freshman Year

    Get a jump start on your career and have your resume ready to go at graduation.  

  • Images of Students


    Small colleges offer you personal attention; SJC professors do more for you—they serve as mentors.

  • Images of Students

    High Quality Academics

    The Core Program is all about you and your role in the world.


  • Images of Students


    You get more deeply involved at SJC, so you get more meaningful experiences that prepare you for career and life.

  • Images of Students

    Real-life Skills

    Get real-life experience and become an excellent communicator.