Core I: What does it mean to be human?

by Devika Agrawal '15

Devika AgrawalI enrolled at Scripps College not knowing much about the Core curriculum beyond that it is an interdisciplinary sequence of three courses that challenges you to think without the context of your pre-conditioned assumptions. This was enough for me to know Scripps was the right choice for me.

I can now say that there is a lot more to Core than any website description or information session can reveal.

Core I is the study of basic concepts such as “being” and “living,” the individual and the society, I and us. Things we take for granted and make assumptions or definitions for throughout our lives suddenly take the form of conceptual challenges that even the brightest philosophers had a hard time sorting out.

Core I excites your brain to think about yourself in a different light. We study human rights issues from various perspectives and regions, followed by human nature and identity. Now, I find myself questioning the terms I use to describe myself and the people around me. What does it mean to be human? Is it different from what it means to be alive? Do humans and animals have the same earthly obligations? Does having a refined consciousness change anything about our significance to the planet?

In and out of class, I am frequently questioning my actions and thoughts. Associate Professor of History Andrew Aisenberg opens up debates in my Core section that address all of these ideas, and more, and causes us to think about the texts we study in the context of oneself. His conversational teaching style makes the discussion topics seem personal and relevant and unites the class in brainstorming and expressing ideas. I use my Core knowledge in all my other classes, too, because the ideas we touch on have relevance to almost every subject I study.

Time to write my final paper for Core I, pick a Core II class for spring, and move on. I can only hope that my next semester is as inspiring and exciting as this one has been.