The Core Texts Program is a two semester course sequence, Cultural Perspectives 101 and 102, taken by all Samford University students. In these courses students engage ideas that form a narrative of human learning. Here, they are taught to read, think, and communicate by interacting with classic texts that have stood the test of time.
For books are more than books, they are the life, the very heart and core of ages past, the reason why men worked and died, the essence and quintessence of their lives.Marcus Tullius Cicero
Every culture seeks to explain human nature, the natural world, religion, and political community. The Core Texts Program ensures that our graduates understand this quest. Even more, it equips them to enter their chosen profession confident they are capable of meaningful critical thought.
While our curriculum emphasizes Western thinkers, we also recognize that certain perennial themes are part of the development of every culture and civilization. Disparate voices in time and place often converge in the task of transmitting values. To this end, the curriculum integrates texts from non-western, or global sources, including especially Asia and Latin America.
The Core Texts Program emphasizes words from the past because we think they matter for the present. Four words in particular summarize our purpose: Quaestio, Disputatio, Fides, Ratio.
Inquiry, discussion, faith, and reason reveal what make us human. From its earliest inception higher education pursued questions and answers that transmitted values from one generation to the next. Many contemporary college and university curriculums neglect this pursuit. Samford's Core Texts Program gives it primacy of place. We equip our students with an intellectual narrative that will help them navigate the modern world's complicated marketplace of ideas. Our curriculum emphasizes the Western intellectual tradition and Christian intellectual tradition, but it also includes important voices from non-Western cultures. We cherish the great writers and thinkers of the past, yet we also recognize that their wisdom must constantly be translated for a new generation.
For centuries reading great works of literature, history, philosophy, and theology served as an initiation into the life of a mature educated person. The mind and the soul were believed to share a relationship, and curriculums were designed to cultivate the moral reasoning skills required of civilized people. In recent decades universities have largely abandoned this enterprise. At Samford, however, we still value the transformative experience that comes from engaging significant ideas that shape our civilization and its values.
The Core Texts Program offers a number of opportunities that encourage student intellectual development in their first year of college:
Each fall faculty nominate the top students from their classes to participate in the London Core Texts Program held every May at the conclusion of Spring semester. This unique two week experience allows talented and ambitious students an opportunity to study important authors and see famous sites from English history and literature while staying at Samford University's London residence, The Daniel House.
The Core Texts Program helps to identify and encourage first-year students who would like to participate in the Classics Department trips to Athens and Rome. Each January the Classics Department annually alternates a spectacular three week educational experience in Greece and Italy where students can experience the cultures that gave us the foundational literature of Western civilization.
The Core Texts Program is devising a system of student mentoring that utilizes talented upper division students in Humanities majors to assist faculty and first-year students as tutors and discussion leaders. These assistants will represent the best of their majors, and they will help our freshman adjust to the "great conversation" of Cultural Perspectives.
The Core Texts Program sponsors three events through the academic year where students witness first-hand a debate or discussion relevant to themes covered in the course: Between Jerusalem and Athens is an annual fall presentation about the theological and philosophical intersection of the Classical and Christian worlds. The Winter Reformation Debate hosted each February covers a significant topic related to the theological issues surrounding the Protestant Reformation. Making Sense of Modernity held each April addressing theological and philosophical issues relevant to the modern and post-modern period.
Each academic year faculty nominate student papers to be considered for the award of best Cultural Perspectives Student Paper of The Year. First, second, and third place winners are recognized with a cash prize presented at a spring reception at the president's house.
Fall semester, students are introduced to great thinkers from the Greeks, the Romans, Early Christianity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance.
Spring semester takes them through the Protestant Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the ideological foment of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.