The Core Program, the set of requirements that all students must take to graduate, lies at the heart of a Dordt College education. The Core lays the foundation for the common parts of students' lives and provides a context for their studies. It complements their majors and helps them develop in ways that encourage them to become not just good professionals, but also good parents, faithful church members, and responsible citizens.
Almost all universities and colleges have a Core Program, and, like Dordt, most have revised their programs recently. Leaders in higher education believe that core studies are necessary because of the fragmentation in our culture. A Core Program can give students a sense of community, help them make intellectual connections between disciplines and other parts of their lives, and encourage a sense of civic responsibility.
Dordt's Core does all of this and more. Like in the academic majors, Core courses are shaped by four curricular coordinates, spelled out in "The Educational Framework of Dordt College." These coordinates are four focal points the curriculum addresses to prepare students to live as God's disciples in his world:
- Religious orientation—students need to know where they and others stand, acknowledging that the whole world belongs to God.
- Creational structure—students need to understand that God made the world as a structured interconnected whole, obedient and subject to his laws.
- Creational development—students need to know how our world became what it is now and that everything they do affects the world for good or for evil.
- Contemporary response—students need to translate what they learn into thoughts and deeds that will enable them to live and work in the world as Christ's disciples.
A Core unified by these elements and focused on common needs and responsibilities gives students a stronger foundation than they would have by simply taking courses that add variety and diversity to their studies.
Specialized disciplines help students gain in-depth knowledge about a particular field; the Core provides the broader context of their studies and prepares them for shared areas of life.