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Liberal Education in the Jesuit Tradition

The Core Curriculum

Education in the liberal arts is central to the mission of Loyola University Maryland, and the cornerstone of each student’s education is the core curriculum. Although the University now offers majors in more than 30 disciplines, all students bring a shared foundation in the liberal arts to their specialized studies as a result of their work in the core program. In addition to serving as a common bond for students, the program represents, on the strength of its continuing commitment to liberal education, the principal source of continuity between the Loyola of today and its past.

Loyola has always been devoted not only to the transmission of knowledge but also to the development of particular qualities of mind and character. The mission of the University is fulfilled only to the degree that it liberates students from self-absorption, parochial ideas, and unexamined beliefs, replacing these with concern and compassion for others, an appreciation of things past or unfamiliar, and a capacity for critical thought. Although this mission shapes all of the courses and many of the activities at Loyola, it is manifested most clearly in the core curriculum. The core, as distinguished from vocational or pre-professional training, affords Loyola students an opportunity to develop the sharpness and versatility of mind which have always been hallmarks of a Jesuit education. 

Both long tradition and the needs of contemporary life mandate the ability to communicate effectively and elegantly as a primary goal of liberal education. Therefore writing plays a central role in the core curriculum. An important goal of a liberal education is familiarity with the history, the great literature, the central scientific paradigms, the primary philosophical and theological ideas, and the central debates of the Western cultural heritage. Such familiarity, along with the knowledge of a foreign language, helps to set a foundation for examinations of the ideas and mores of other cultures. A Loyola graduate should be able to think critically and analytically, to reason mathematically, and to understand the methodology of disciplines in both the natural and social sciences. Yet, the unifying objective of the core curriculum extends beyond the provision of fundamental knowledge to the setting of the foundations of intellectual, moral, and spiritual excellence. A liberal education in the Jesuit tradition seeks, ultimately, to provide a rigorous intellectual basis for the development of moral convictions, and for a life of continuous learning and action in service of those convictions.