by Gail Hemmeter, Conference Co-coordinator

The programs described on this website represent the diversity of the core courses and curricula historically or currently offered by the schools which make up the Association of Core Texts and Courses.

-- Many of our programs focus on the Western intellectual tradition and the textual foundations of its institutions and cultural assumptions; many also examine multicultural texts and traditions.

-- Many of our programs fall under the "humanities" rubric; some incorporate the aims of the social and natural sciences; and some even require field work and laboratory investigation.

-- Some programs take the "Great Books" approach; others focus on historical moments; still others on themes of concern to individuals and community.  See a listing of current and historical great books programs.

-- Many programs are interdisciplinary in nature; others offer a menu of courses taught within the disciplines.

-- Many define "text" as that which is comprised of words; others expand the definition to encompass visual andmusical art.

-- Many strive to locate their texts in a historical and cultural context; others provide students a minimum of background, asking them to focus on the internal questions and logic of the texts.

-- Several programs feature instructors teaching from common syllabi; some encourage faculty to put their individualstamp on the curriculum by adding texts of their choice to the common reading list or by developing specialinterest courses.

-- Some feature team teaching; in others, faculty teach individually but participate in group seminars or training sessions.

-- Some programs are conceived especially for honors students; others are required of every student.

-- Some programs target freshman populations; others offer courses at all levels.

-- Some programs fulfill the purpose of general education; others offer majors; and a few even graduate degrees.
Despite their many variations and permutations, the core programs of ACTC schools demonstrate the common goal of promoting critical reading, writing, thinking and discussion skills. A further underlying principle articulates itself in the aim of guiding students to locate themselves within larger cultural traditions; and to enter conversation with substantive texts and with those who think seriously about them.



by J. Scott Lee, Executive Director of ACTC and Conference Coordinator

Contained on this website are descriptions of Core Text/Core Course programs offered by participating institutions of the annual conference of the Association for Core Texts and Courses in the late 1990’s.  Many of these descriptions are of historical, rather than current interest.   Ultimately, ACTC seeks to provide a “Webliography of the Liberal Arts” which will document past and current core text programs. These program descriptions reflect a first step in that direction.

Most of the programs share several common features: They seek to provide to all or a significant portion
of their respective students an integrated basis for the higher education which each institution offers.
The materials of integration involve two essentials:

a) a set of texts and their authors used in

b) a prescribed set of courses.

c)One method of integration almost invariably involved is interdisciplinary, whether within individual courses
or through sequences of courses.

The form the programs take are quite varied and may be Left to inspection. But recurrent concerns and variations should be remarked:

a) All are somehow concerned with the relations of Western knowledge, institutions or practices,
and products to students; many are concerned with the relation of non-Western cultures to the West.

b) Most programs are concerned with historical developments and many are explicit in
acknowledging the self-critical tradition of Western thought.

c) Many programs have adopted team teaching assignments, encouraged multi-departmental
cooperation, or devised either diverse course formats or lengths in an effort to accomplish
interdisciplinary and integrative aims.

We hope that this will be the seed for a permanent database on these programs. I want to thank everyone who sent us materials to use. We have tried to include as much of each program description as possible. If important points have been omitted, or if typographical errors appear, please inform us and we will make corrections.