Liberal Arts & Sciences: Mission, Requirements & Curriculum

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The College of Arts & Sciences is currently engaging students, faculty and staff in an open conversation around the mission of a liberal arts and sciences education today, and around the ways in which graduation requirements reflect and support that mission.

How You Can Get Involved

The Curriculum Review Committee (CRC) is currently in the process of drafting a proposal that will become available for review and comment in March 2017. 

Timeline & Milestones

Building Foundation (January 2016 – July 2016)

January: Curriculum Review Committee (CRC) formed. Laura Brown assumes position as CRC chair.

January-April: CRC members meet by sub-committee to work in three areas:

  • gathering data: information sharing & exchange 
  • drafting requirement ideas and scenarios
  • exploring connections to pedagogy

March-April: Group discussions with students, advising staff, directors of undergraduate study, and university associate deans group

May: Committee report to Dean Ritter.

July: Launch of to serve as public hub for the curriculum discussion.

Activating Discussions College-wide (August 2016 – January 2017)

August: CRC representatives meet with department chairs and program directors at the Dean’s retreat; the CRC also convenes with department directors of undergraduate study in two meetings.

August 30: The College announces publicly (via the Cornell Chronicle and Arts & Sciences website) that it is considering curriculum changes and offers three scenarios to kick off public discussions and exploration.

September: Department and program Liaison Group forms as a sounding board for the CRC. This group begins participating in monthly meetings to create in-time exchange between CRC work topics and college faculty.

September 12: College-wide faculty meeting convenes to discuss the curriculum review process and solicit feedback.

September-October: CRC representatives meet with the A&S Advisory Council, humanities collective, the chemistry and astronomy departments, two faculty focus groups, one student focus group, the CALS curriculum committee, CHE representatives, and biology curriculum committee.

October 28: President Rawlings’ State of the University address calls on colleges to examine core curriculum and highlights perspectives on curriculum, pedagogy, and value of Cornell education. After Rawlings’ address, a panel convenes to discuss core curriculum concerns and liberal education.

November 3: CRC continues to review feedback across the college and holds evolving scenario workshop to start a redraft of the initial scenarios.

November 10: The Liaison Group submits draft of "Principles of a Liberal Education" for review.

November 21: The College releases a news update on progress to date with the curriculum discussion and publicly releases the “Principles of a Liberal Education” document for feedback.

November 30: Early Career Faculty Forum convened by CRC to solicit feedback. CRC synthesizes college feedback to date into new structures for core requirements, now labeled “evolving frameworks.”

November-December: CRC representatives meet with the Engineering curriculum committee, FGSS, the university associate deans group, two faculty focus groups, one student focus group, and the humanities collective. The A&S Student Advisory Group organizes a series of student-faculty meetings. Various faculty lead five informal focus groups.

December 13: Humanities chairs submit a curriculum proposal during the college chairs meeting. CRC presents update to department chairs on progress to date and emerging areas of agreement.

December 19: Provost’s humanities task force (CIVIC) issues report  that addresses curriculum innovation and teaching.

December 29: CRC submits progress report to Dean Ritter.

January 23: College-wide faculty forum with Interim President Hunter Rawlings. Tom Pepinsky assumes position as CRC chair for the next phase of the curriculum process.

Drafting the Proposal (January 2017 – March 2017)

January 24: Dean Ritter meets with the CRC and department Liaison Group to initiate the next phase of proposal drafting with a due date by end of February.

January 27: CRC initiates weekly meetings.

February: Proposal drafting in process

March 3: CRC finalizes proposal draft and presents to the Liaison Group.

Introducing & Reviewing the Proposal (March 2017 – April 2017)

March 7: Introduce draft proposal online at

March-April: Solicit feedback on the draft proposal from faculty, students and the broader Cornell community via a series of department meetings and town halls.

March 9: Town hall to introduce and discuss draft proposal with faculty, scheduled for 3:30-5:00 pm in Rhodes Rawlings Auditorium, Klarman Hall