Why Does AUIS Have a Core Program?
The strong Core Program at AUIS makes it unique among Iraqi universities. In his acclaimed recent book In Defense of A Liberal Education CNN host and bestselling author Fareed Zakaria argues that technology and globalization have increased the value of a liberal education (knowing how to write, how to speak your mind, and how to learn) as routine mechanical and even computing tasks can be done by machines or workers in low wage countries. The best jobs of the future will go to people who combine creativity, curiosity, and social skills with technical, scientific or professional education. This is what the Core Program at AUIS does – it gives students in professional programs, such as Engineering, IT and Business, a strong background in English and the humanities, and makes sure that social science and English majors have acquired basic scientific, mathematical and computer skills.
What is the AUIS Core Program?
The AUIS Core Program is the common curriculum in the Liberal Arts that all AUIS students take. Students take courses in the Core Program throughout their undergraduate career, but the majority of such courses are taken in the first few semesters. The first goal of the Core Program is to provide a foundation of knowledge and reasoning to help students as they proceed with their major studies, their careers and the rest of their lives. Another goal is to promote broad learning and teaching that crosses the borders between disciplines, so that students with a degree from AUIS possess many of the strengths of the educated mind. Educated minds know more clearly what they think and why they think it. Knowing what one is talking about is so complex – mathematicians do it one way, and historians another – that one can only learn the general habit by knowing the language and methods of the disciplines to a critical minimum. Liberal education at AUIS requires all students to take foundational courses in the humanities, the social sciences and math and natural sciences, so that they learn to love learning for its own sake, and acquire skills that make possible lifelong learning. Progress towards this goal builds true self reliance, and is the ultimate aim of the Core Program.
The AUIS Core Curriculum
All AUIS students take a four course Civilization sequence, studying developments in politics, culture, science and the arts from antiquity to the present. All students also take three Math courses (usually College Algebra, Statistics, and Pre-Calculus) and three English courses (Argument, Writing, and Research). The final set of mandatory courses all students at AUIS take are Life Sciences and Physical Sciences, and one course in Computer Science.In addition to these thirteen required courses, students are required to take one elective course in each of the three major fields – Social Sciences, Humanities, and Math and Natural Sciences. Popular Core Electives in recent years have been ‘Water in Iraq’ (Natural Science), ‘Love Poetry’ (Humanities), and ‘Politics and Government’ (Social Sciences).
The Core Program at AUIS is committed to the notion of building students’ curiosity and skills, and to finding ways to build cocurricular programs. In the 2013-2014 academic year, AUIS gave its Core students and the whole university Shakespeare Week, a week of activities that celebrated the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. Activities included a film festival, musical performances, an elocution contest, various academic contests, academic presentations, and a theatrical performance titled “Will’s Cafe.”
In the 2014-2015 academic year another week was designated to celebrate another birthday – the 450th anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s birth. The theme of that week was Discovery. Activities for the week included a film showing, a symposium of research conducted by APP students, stargazing with Galileoscopes, microscope building and digital photography, several academic presentations, and a performance of scenes from Bertolt Brecht’s Life of Galileo.