Spring 2012: Contemporary Civilization

Columbia College 2012Classes have started for Contemporary Civilization at Columbia College, perhaps the longest running college course in America. What started in 1919 as War and Peace Issues is now a year-long seminar taught in sections of up to 22 students that meets twice a week for a year. I teach two sections. Columbia writes, “[T]he central purpose of Contemporary Civilization is to introduce students to a range of issues concerning the kinds of communities – political, social, moral, and religious – that human beings construct for themselves and the values that inform and define such communities.” We start with Plato, Aristotle and Epicurus, continue through the Torah and Gospel of Matthew, and read Augustine, the Koran, Machiavelli, Aquinas, Hobbes and Locke among others in the autumn. In the spring, we begin with Voltaire, Hume, Rousseau and Adam Smith, continue with John Stuart Mill, Nietzsche, Du Bois, Virginia Woolf and Hayek, and end with Peter Singer and Jared Diamond.

About Bob Neer

Core Lecturer in History at Columbia University in the City of New York.
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