Core Curriculum

The University of Portland’s Core Curriculum invites students to acquire the knowledge, skills, and values that will prepare them to respond to the needs of the world and its human family. The premise of the UP Core is that while no discipline by itself is sufficient to achieve this purpose, the liberal arts provide a foundation of multiple lenses to address enduring questions of human concern. These include: What is a good life? How does the world work? Who or what is God? What does it mean to be human? How do people maintain enduring values in a world of rapid change and uncertainty? Wrestling with such questions helps in the formation of students who better understand themselves and the world, preparing them to become effective citizens able to understand and appreciate diverse perspectives.

Grounded by Catholic intellectual tradition and Holy Cross values, the University of Portland has strong and diverse core requirements that emphasize cross disciplinary engagement, ethical reflection, and critical thinking. The UP Core enacts these points of emphasis by using different disciplinary lenses to approach truth, preparing graduates to engage in a wide range of vocations by developing habits of heart and mind that include:

  • Aesthetics & Creativity
  • Diversity & the Common Good
  • Faith & Ethics
  • Global & Historical Consciousness
  • Literacy & Dialogue
  • Science & Problem Solving

To cultivate these Core Habits, the UP Core requires course work of all students at three levels: introductory level, foundation level and exploration level.

To ensure that all students have some exposure to a historical disciplinary lens, students must take at least one HST course at either the Foundation or Exploration levels.

The UP Core also applies to transfer students. No substitutions may be made without special permission from the Core Director in consultation with the dean or designee of the student's college or school. Some departments and schools require a specific course to satisfy some of the requirements listed below. Students should consult the bulletin for the degree requirements of their major.

Goals of the Core

Each of the six UP Core Habits of Heart and Mind include learning goals for courses. Individual courses also identify specific student learning outcomes to assess whether the learning goals are being achieved. The course learning goals include:

Aesthetics & Creativity

  • Engage in creative processes requiring curiosity and imagination.
  • Recognize ways products of creative and artistic expression inform human experience.

Diversity & the Common Good

  • Learn to live and contribute within the diversity of U.S. society.
  • Recognize how cultures, identities, and inequities in the U.S. shape human experience in an interdependent world.
  • Engage community and social issues with a sense of civic responsibility and shared commitment to human dignity, particularly in the context of the contemporary United States.

Faith & Ethics

  • Confront ultimate questions with knowledge from a range of intellectual & religious traditions.
  • Examine faith and religion, their place in one’s life, and in the lives of others.
  • Develop the knowledge and skills for acting ethically in everyday life.

Global & Historical Consciousness

  • Apply a comparative perspective to global issues.
  • Develop competencies for responsible global citizenship and stewardship.
  • Demonstrate a historical and cultural consciousness.

Literacy & Dialogue

  • Express critical, analytical, and imaginative thoughts and ideas, particularly in writing.
  • Employ critical reasoning to explore ideas and evaluate information.
  • Engage in active consideration of and constructive response to the ideas of others.
Science & Problem Solving
  • Use scientific thinking to understand how the world works.
  • Employ mathematical and statistical skills to explore and make sense of data.
  • Use empirical analysis to address human, social, or ecological problems.