Contemporary Civilization, like other Core courses, is structured as seminars with intensive close reading and active discussion.  Traditionally, Contemporary Civilization limits the study of the core texts to close reading and essay assignments, which generally produce a restricted understanding and study of the material.  Typically the method of evaluation is based on two 6-8 pages papers, one midterm and one final exam.  Each two hours session is devoted to the study of one author and text, quickly moving from one text to another and focusing on the central themes and questions. The focus of Contemporary Civilization is to teach the evolution of political theory and moral philosophy.  In this sense the course lives within the realm of theoretical and abstract thinking and reflection.  Shooting the Core addresses the need for students to observe how political theories affect the lives of individuals who dwell in different neighborhoods of New York City and are not affiliated with the academic community at Columbia University.

Under its new design, Contemporary Civilization introduces an active investigation and report that documents conversations with a wide range of individuals that do not belong to the course, living in different neighborhoods and that will be interviewed on issues central to the texts under study and relevant to society today.  Students will structure their films as spontaneous reportage, i. non-staged conversations.  Interviews will be direct, conversational and respectful of the possible diversity of opinions.  The principal objective of Shooting the Core is to transform the students into active makers of knowledge, engaging in deliberation with others, rather than sitting through an entire year as passive readers of the core curriculum.

Stay tuned for the latest news on the evolution of the project.

Professor Alvarado-Díaz