Core Program

The Core Program, the set of requirements that all students must take to graduate, lies at the heart of a Dordt 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 Courses 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." 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. 

A Reformed Perspective

Dordt's Core Program helps students understand what it means to have a Reformed worldview or Christian perspective on life. Students read and reflect on writings by John Calvin, Abraham Kuyper, and other Reformed thinkers. This helps students know why they think as they do or understand why they don't agree with what they're being taught. Students also take an upper-level course in Advanced Reformed Thought, applying a Reformed perspective in their major and the capstone course Core 399: Calling, Task, and Culture.

Curriculum Development & Student Outcomes

Curriculum development at Dordt is guided by a document titled "The Educational Framework of Dordt College." The following list of student outcomes is summarized from that document, which is a primary means whereby Dordt holds itself accountable for student learning. A comprehensive assessment program has been developed that measures the college's effectiveness in meeting these goals. Dordt is committed to continually improving its educational programs so that we can more completely realize our goals for student learning.

Religious Orientation

Graduates will demonstrate the following:

  • the ability to recognize the Bible's main themes and teachings and its guiding role in a life of Christian discipleship
  • an understanding of the elements of the Reformed faith and worldview
  • the ability to discern, evaluate, and challenge the prevailing spirits and worldviews of our age in the light of God's Word and a reformational perspective
  • a commitment to living a life of Christian discipleship and to transforming those features of our culture that oppose Christ's rule

Creational Structure

Graduates will demonstrate the following:

  • an understanding that all of reality has been structured by God, that he faithfully preserves it through his laws, and that he unifies it in Christ Jesus as its sovereign head
  • an appreciation of the rich diversity within creation and recognition of the interdependence of its various parts and aspects
  • awareness of the central position human beings hold in creation as image bearers of God
  • care and respect for everything God has created
  • the ability to maintain a balanced, wholesome lifestyle
  • the ability to use the ideas, theories, and procedures from a variety of disciplines
  • competence in one or more specialized fields of inquiry
  • the ability to continue developing, sharing, and applying serviceable insights in diverse communities after graduation

Creational Development

Graduates will demonstrate the following:

  • an understanding of how our world has developed historically
  • appreciation of their God-given responsibility to be loving stewards of creation
  • a critical evaluation of the formative processes and religious spirits that have shaped various cultures
  • awareness of the interconnected global nature of contemporary life
  • an ability to evaluate formative influences and to contribute to reformation within their particular disciplines and vocations and in common areas of life

Contemporary Response

Graduates will demonstrate the following:

  • the insights, skills, and strategies needed to serve in their vocations and the common tasks of adult life
  • increasing wisdom, rooted in a mature fear of the Lord, in their understanding of his world and their service to his kingdom
  • commitment to lifelong learning so that they can continue to develop and apply insight in faithful response to God
  • sensitivity to the impact of sin and idolatry in their own lives, in human society, and in the world around them
  • a desire to transform the world for the service of God's kingdom and the good of all his creatures

The list of student outcomes above is a summary of a document titled "The Educational Framework of Dordt." A companion document, "The Educational Task of Dordt," is the source of much of the rest of the information summarized here. Print copies are also available on request from the admissions office, the office of college advancement, or the president's office.

Flexibility

The Core Program offers some flexibility for students to meet its requirements. For example, students with weaker writing skills need to take the basic writing course, but students with stronger writing skills can meet the writing requirement by taking a course that will help them further develop the skills they already have. Many requirements can be fulfilled by choosing from among several courses the one that will best meet their needs or interests.

Making Connections

At Dordt, students are able to take what they've learned in the classroom and use it in practical learning situations. With internships, practicums, and research and design projects, students find that their hands-on experiences help deepen their understanding of their field of study.

For many students, spending a semester in an off-campus study program is a favorite way to be immersed in hands-on learning. Students travel to major metropolitan areas like Chicago, Los Angles, Toronto, and Washington, D.C., or to other countries like Nicaragua, Egypt, and New Zealand.

Our aim is to weave experiences and classroom learning, curricular and co-curricular activities, core courses, and major courses into a seamless whole. Such an education, rooted in a commitment to Christ, can lead to a rich life of effective Christian discipleship.

Requirements and Courses

Core Program Requirements for Bachelor's Degrees (41 - 63 credits)
The Core Program for all students pursuing a bachelor's degree consists of pre-disciplinary foundational studies, contextual and interdisciplinary studies, and post-disciplinary integrative studies. Typically, students will begin pre-disciplinary coursework their freshman year and most will complete it by the end of their sophomore year. Beginning with their sophomore year, students will move on to contextual and interdisciplinary coursework, and they will finish their undergraduate careers with the post-disciplinary integrative course work.

Pre-disciplinary Foundational

Academic Competencies
Many of these can be waived if the student has high enough test scores or courses that qualify.
Mathematics competency
English competency
Communication competency
Foreign Language competency

Historical-Redemptive Outlook  
Kingdom, Identity, and Calling CORE 100
Roots of Western Culture and Worldview CORE 140
Western Culture in Global Context CORE 145
Biblical Foundations CORE 150

Contextual Inter-disciplinary

Health, Sport, and the Body CORE 130
Introduction to Lifetime Activities CORE 135
and one activity component or participation in athletics.  
Introduction to the Arts CORE 160
Responding to Literature CORE 180
Introduction to Christian Philosophy CORE 200
Natural Science* CORE 210-219
Quantitative Reasoning* CORE 220-229
Persons in Community* CORE 250-259
Justice and Stewardship* CORE 260-269
Cross-Cultural Studies* CORE 270-289

Post-Disciplinary Integrative

Advanced Reformed Thought* CORE 310-329
Calling, Task, and Culture CORE 399

* Requirements that can be satisfied by a course in a student's major area of study.