Spring Summer 07

The Core


Living Legacy

Doc of Ages

Tour de Force


Editor's Note

Vox Populi

Ocean's Informants

Transcripts: Leaping from the 18th Century to the 21st

Secret History

Big Shoulders, Helping Hand

C'est Si Bon Bon

Oxford and Upward

Go Ask Alumni

Editor's Note

The heart of the mater

Welcome to The Core, a new twice-yearly magazine about the life of the College at the University of Chicago. If you're thinking "only at Chicago would they name a magazine after the curriculum," you're doubtless right! The Common Core, however, is not all our name refers to. The name is, to be sure, a nod to the most distinctive feature of the undergraduate education at Chicago. But it also speaks to a pervasive belief on this campus that within the University of Chicago, the College holds a unique and central place.

The College's recent historians have emphasized this point. Earlier this year, John Boyer, now in his fourth term as Dean of the College, published in the University of Chicago Record his essay "A Twentieth-Century Cosmos: The New Plan and the Origins of General Education at Chicago." As he wrote there, "We are a liberal arts college at the center of a great research university, and we aim to teach our students the skills and virtues of the scholar." This highlights what the College draws from the University, but the University draws much from the College as well.

Far from being just one academic unit among many, the College has long drawn together other parts of the University in broad critical thinking about aims and methods of education and in the interdisciplinary scholarly culture that is one of this institution's great distinctions. Talk to any faculty member who teaches in the College and they will tell you that their time in the undergraduate classroom and working with colleagues from different disciplines broadens their research horizons and makes them better scholars.

The University's first president, William Rainey Harper, urged Chicago to be "one in spirit, not necessarily in opinion." In his recent book Powers of the Mind: The Reinvention of Liberal Learning in America, former dean of the College Donald N. Levine demonstrates that curricular debate in the College has always been vital to achieving this community of spirit. And he observes the happy irony that Harper's original commitment to excellent advanced scholarship led to, and continues to nourish, a system of undergraduate education that stands out in the history of liberal learning in the United States. Our main feature in this issue, "Living Legacy" by Jerome Tharaud, AB'02, gives readers a glimpse of that system in action during winter quarter 2007.

The College is certainly a centripetal force within the University. More recently it has also acted centrifugally, dispatching its students to sites around the globe to learn, work, and make a difference. Study abroad opportunities, internships, and the like have exploded, making Chicago a growing presence beyond the quads, outside the city, and internationally. In The Core we strive to tell that side of the College story, too.

I hope you enjoy every stop on this tour of the College today, from Henry Hinds Laboratory to the City of Lights to Cape Town. We welcome your feedback and will see you again in the autumn with a new issue.—L.D.