Core 151 at Colgate

Should We Change Core 151 or Not?

Should We Change Core 151 or Not?

Legacies of the Ancient World has been a very controversial core course at Colgate University. Some people feel that the required readings are not diverse enough to be taught today. The required texts are not representative of the student body at Colgate and what’s happening in the world around them today.

I think that some change is required to this course. This course should be changed to more recent readings and things that are going on in the world today. This course should be made more modern and teach the students about what happened in the past, but also start talking about more recent times and how they relate.

Core Curriculum at Colgate University

There are four core classes at Colgate University, consisting of a Scientific Perspective course, Communities and Identities course, Legacies of the Ancient World, and Challenges of  Modernity. There have been many complaints about the core curriculum at Colgate University due to the fact that some people think that some of the courses are too eurocentric. Some of the most controversial courses are Legacies of the Ancient World and Challenges of Modernity. A lot of people think that these two courses are too Eurocentric because the required texts focus on Western civilization. The texts do not have any diversity because all of them are told either by or about old, white men.

Sophomore, Jenna Geffert, who is a part of the student athlete advisory committee (SAAC) and has a very strong opinion on the core revision process says “they should change the courses into a current events class, or a more diverse and inclusive course.” Jenna also states that “If the texts in the course were focused more on current events then students would have a better understanding of the world today, and how important it is to be culturally diverse.”

I think many students at Colgate University feel the same way, after reading some of my peer’s papers. Many students think that required texts need to be changed to include more people of color. In Leo’s previous post his interviewee Owen Oulundsen said “nearly all the texts are of European origin and do not include people of color.” 

Core 151 at Colgate University

Core 151’s purpose is to allow the students to “explore ancient texts that articulate perennial issues”  such as justice, beauty, and righteousness. Legacies of the Ancient World explores texts from the ancient Mediterranean and Western world, and some people argue that the texts are too Mediterannean or Western. Legacies of The Ancient World has a set of required texts to read, and none of them really include any diversity. Most sections of this course include the classic texts such as Homer, the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, Plato, and a Roman text. The professors have the option of adding in any texts they would like to, and some add more diverse and inclusive texts while some just stick with the required texts. Some professors think that the course has been taught for so long and they think it is okay to continue teaching it the way it is with no change. 


People have been asking for a revision of Colgate’s Core Curriculum for quite some time now. It is not a new topic around campus or among the professors and students. At Colgate there is a group called Colgate Inclusive, and they argue that Legacies of the Ancient World should include texts from various schools of thought such as Islamic, Christian, Ancient Mesopotamian, Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian, Ancient Greek and Roman, Ancient cultures and civilizations of African, Asian, and Latin American continents, etc. While dealing with the question of whether or not to change the course, Colgate University created the Core Revision Committee (CRC), which is a group of 10 faculty members from different areas of study. These faculty members regroup every ten years to revise the core curriculum, and it just so happens that right now it is time for a revision more than ever. Their goal is to have Colgate’s faculty continuously assess and revise the Core. In a Core Faculty Survey, it was shown that 20% of professors teach in the core only because it is required or expected by their department or program. Also, many professors say that they support the core curriculum, but they would love to see it evolve. While there are many professors that think the curriculum should be changed, there are also some that think it is perfectly fine the way it is. Some people say it has been taught this way for so long, and it has been effective. They do not see a need for change. In my opinion, this course needs to be revised and be changed to be more inclusive and diverse. I think if the required readings are changed to more recent texts it will allow the course to be more inclusive and diverse. 

These images show the lack of diversity throughout the required texts in Legacies of The Ancient World.

By: Elizabeth Nitka

Colgate University 2024