Updating USD's Core Curriculum

The University of San Diego is moving toward final approval of a new core curriculum for undergraduate students. The College of Arts & Sciences passed the curriculum with 71% voting in favor of the new curriculum and 29% opposed. In the School of Business, faculty approval was 96%. The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering faculty voted to accept the new core with 78% in favor and 22% opposed. The University Senate has approved a new core curriculum for undergraduate students with a 20-2-1 vote in favor. The Board of Trustees will review the curriculum in September and if approved by the Board, the new curriculum will apply to incoming students in Fall 2017.

The core curriculum is the product of five years of work by faculty and marks the most significant adjustment to our core curriculum since 1986. We have arrived at a Core that is student centered and that embodies the tradition and mission of USD. The new core is a recommitment to the value of a liberal arts education for all undergraduates, regardless of major.

  • Integrate knowledge, insights, and skills gained through scholarly inquiry and strong community into the quest for truth as a continuous process of making connections (integrated learning);
  • Become individuals who aspire to uphold the dignity and aspirations of all people in the search for truth and for the good (foundations);
  • Critically and creatively explore the “big questions” about God, personal and social identity, and the world through varied modes of inquiry (foundations & explorations);
  • Learn essential skills of critical thinking and information literacy, communication, mathematical reasoning and problem-solving, and quantitative reasoning (core competencies).

Please access the summary report here. All documents associated with the core revision process can be accessed below.

The 2013-2014 academic year is focused on the creation of a core curriculum identifying new opportunities for students in key areas. The core planning committee is organized into to working groups concentrating on Integration, Breadth, Catholic Intellectual Tradition, and Indispensable Competencies. Each working group will submit a proposal to the core planning committee for review. The steering committee will consolidate the reports into one document for distribution to undergraduate faculty. As proposals are submitted they can be accessed here: Integration (reportpresentationnotes), Breadth (reportpresentationnotes), Catholic Intellectual Tradition (reportnotes), and Indispensable Competencies (reporttablepresentationnotes). The CPC met to discuss a complete proposal that consolidates the recommendations from the various subcommittees (draft proposalnotes). The summary report that outlines the proposal for a new core curriculum can be accessed here: (report).

The Core Planning Committee met on March 25 to discuss revisions to the core proposal. CPC members have been gathering faculty feedback and offered recommended changes. The core proposal is currently being revised and a new proposal will be submitted for faculty review in April. Read notes from the meeting here.

During Spring 2014, members of the Core Planning Committee are listening to feedback from faculty. To help answer some key questions, subcommittee chairs have created a “Frequently Asked Questions” document for their area. Those can be accessed here: (IntegrationBreadthDiversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice, and Competencies).

To inform the CPC of previous curricular work that had been done by faculty in 2011 related to diversity, The Diversity Curriculum Committee resubmitted their 2011 report for consideration. It can be accessed here. The Diversity Curriculum Committee updated their recommendations in response to the CPC proposal. Recommendations for the Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice area can be accessed here.

The core revision process began in summer, 2011. Attending a week-long intensive workshop, a task force developed the Core Action Plan, a working document that provided initiated campus-wide discussions about the core curriculum. It provides a broadly based vision statement, process description, timetable, and other key elements.

The second year of the core revision process is guided by the Core Proposal, passed April, 2012 by the faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business Administration, and the Department of Engineering. It was subsequently accepted by the University Senate and reviewed by the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees.

The Core Proposal is composed of a set of general recommendations and an articulation of general principles for continued discussion that emerged during the first year of the revision process. Task force committees were formed for each of the six principles for deeper analysis and discussion. A separate working group, the Task Force on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Core Curriculum (CITCC), was formed to develop and articulate a set of general principles to guide the design of USD’s core curriculum to ensure that it reflects its Catholic identity and the Catholic intellectual tradition.

By December, 2012, each task force committee had generated reports that identified key components of each principle and recommendations for how these might be implemented in the core curriculum. The final reports for each task force include: breadthsmaller core sizediversityenhanced componentsmultidisciplinary clusters, and writing. The final report of the CITCC can be found on the CITCC tab and here.

During the spring semester, 2013, the Core Planning Committee (CPC) will work on developing curricular applications or core models that reflect the recommendations of each task force. Additionally, the CPC will establish short-term and long-term timelines for the core revision process over the next several years. Discussions of core models and timelines will include all faculty through attendance at the open forums planned for this spring. Please check the CEE website for times and locations of these events. Additionally, you are welcome to post your comments directly to the Imagine the Core blog.


The USD Core Curriculum fosters the pursuit of knowledge through active student and faculty participation in a broad and richly diverse academic experience. The Core develops indispensable competencies, explores traditions of thought and belief, and probes the horizons of the liberal arts and the diversity of human experience. The Core promotes critical appreciation of truth, goodness, and beauty in the context of engagement with the Catholic intellectual tradition and diverse faith communities. The Core instills habits of thought and action which will serve all students in their academic majors and throughout their lives as reflective citizens of the world.

Contact Information

Founders Hall 114
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110

Phone: 619) 260-4545
Fax: (619) 260-4162