The CORE Curriculum at ODU includes a series of four seminars, each thematically based on the Dominican intellectual and religious tradition:
• First Year: What does it mean to be human?
• Second Year: What is the Common Good?
• Third Year: What is Justice?
• Fourth Year: What Truths have we learned?
These seminars ensure that both students and faculty continuously reflect on aspects of ODU’s mission statement and Dominican values throughout the undergraduate curriculum. The first-year seminar, functions as an introduction to student life at Ohio Dominican University (ODU) and serves as an interdisciplinary seminar devoted to the university’s mission. The second- and third- year seminars are more discipline focused, while the fourth-year seminar serves as a senior capstone experience to both the CORE curriculum and the student’s major.
Students in all sections of each seminar study one or more common texts. The first three seminars approach the questions from the point of view of different content areas and are taught by faculty from different disciplines. The fourth seminar is a capstone course taught by faculty in the student’s own major area. The seminars collectively provide students with a distinctively Dominican education. They exemplify the university’s rich history and mission and are inspired by the four pillars of Dominican life: prayer, community, ministry, and study.
In the first-year seminar students study humans as embodied, social, spiritual, emotional, rational beings. The Gospel of Matthew is used in the first-year seminar, specifically due to the fact that St. Dominic himself carried it with him on his journeys, providing students the opportunity to connect with and follow in the footsteps of the founder of the Dominican order.
In the second-year seminar students study community and the common good as they examine the role of individuals belonging to multiple and diverse communities. Students have the opportunity to translate knowledge into action through a community service project. The common good is defined as the sum conditions of social life which allow social groups (or communities) and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to fulfillment of their basic human needs and rights.
In the third-year seminar students study the role of justice in providing each person what he or she is due. Courses may include the following forms of justice among others: divine, distributive or social justice, retributive or corrective justice, compensatory, utilitarian and restorative justice.
In the final year the seminars extend the discussion of human nature, the common good, and justice to raise the question of what truths we have learned. The common texts include the New Testament Book of Matthew and The Idea of the University by Cardinal Newman.
Each year, the university chooses the theme of one of the seminars as the focus point for the year. An all-campus reading is chosen and a speaker series is planned around the annual theme.
The university-wide Core Conversations program, supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, extends the exploration of the Core Seminar concepts to the entire campus community and the public by developing programming for one theme per year. Previous speakers/books include:
Wil Haygood, The Butler: A Witness to History (September 2013)
John Dear, Practicing Nonviolence in a World of War (April 2014)
Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (September 2014)
Conor Grennan, Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal (February 2015)
Timothy Shriver, Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most (September 2015)
Wil Haygood, Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court (February 2016)
Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human (November 2016)
Father Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion (February 2018)
In addition, the core seminars foster student development as ethical, global citizens. This is supplemented by the completion of courses which focus on diversity. ODU’s foundation as a Catholic Dominican institution plays out in the requirement of undergraduate philosophy and theology courses as well. All students complete a strong liberal arts core in addition to a major course of study.