Fairfield's "The Core" Timeline - History At-A-Glance


Fairfield's Core curriculum combines tradition and innovation. At Fairfield, we have adapted the best of the past to suit the needs of students today. Check below for an at-a-glance history of "The Core" in Jesuit education and specifically at Fairfield.

10th C.

Medieval schools of general studies (studia generalia) are founded

11th C.

First universities founded at Bologna, Paris and Oxford

12th-18th C.

Most universities offer a core curriculum based on 7 liberal arts:

  1. Grammar
  2. Logic
  3. Rhetoric
  4. Geometry
  5. Arithmetic
  6. Astronomy
  7. Music

Students study under the professional faculties of medicine, law, and theology. Final examinations are grueling, and many students fail.


The Society of Jesus (Jesuit Order) is founded. At the request of the Pope, they begin to found and administer secondary schools (colleges) and later universities.


Ratio Studiorum (method / system of study) is established by the Jesuits

17th C.

Rise of Enlightenment rationality, scientific method, and modernism

19th C.

Displacement of religion in European universities


Changes in higher education begin as Columbia University adopts longest continuing core curriculum, Antioch College requires students to work full-time every 5 weeks, and Bennington College grants students a large say in making rules under which they live

& 40s

University of Chicago pioneers Hutchins' "Great Books" curriculum of "unalterable first principles the same for all men always and everywhere"


Fairfield University is founded


Harvard's report General Education in a Free Society (the "Red Book") declares against vocationalism of both Hutchins and high school, urging general curriculum in English, science, mathematics and social science


G.I. Bill in U.S. begins great expansion of enrollment in higher education


Great expansion of higher education curriculum and governance


Fairfield University adopts its current core curriculum


Fairfield adopts current mission statement


Resurgence of scholarship on Jesuit higher education, such as Ratio Studiorum: 400th Anniversary Perspectives


Fairfield adopts Mission of the Core, with learning objectives for arts and sciences disciplines such as empirical observation, falsifiability of scientific theories, moral reasoning and writing for a range of purposes and audiences


Fairfield reports on Core Assessment, calling for holistic assessment of student learning, and, and faculty development and support to improve pedagogy, and specific support for part-time faculty teaching the core


Fairfield task forces collect and analyze data, and make recommendations for the 3 goals of 1) integration of learning in the core, 2) integration of living and learning, and 3) integration of Jesuit values in graduate and professional education


Fairfield adopts strategic plan for the 3 goals


Fairfield hosts core integration brown bag lunches for faculty to voice ideas


"Spellings Report" of U.S. Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education calls for evidence of value added to students' academic baseline through teaching and learning


Fairfield University kicks off activities to support faculty in driving integration of the core


Faculty identifies and formulates initial Pathways language


"Meet the Pathways" event launches the 6 Pathways to Core Integration: Engaging Traditions (formerly Appropriating Wisdom), Creative and Aesthetic Engagement, Global Citizenship, Quantitative Reasoning, Rhetoric and Reflection, Scientific Reasoning.


Fairfield launches a comprehensive Core website