Contemporary Civilization

Founded in 1919 as a course on war and peace issues, Contemporary Civilization has evolved continuously while remaining a constant and essential element of the Columbia Core Curriculum.

illustration depicting modern student interacting with ancient scholars

Introduction to Contemporary Civilization in the West

Contemporary Civilization or “CC” asks students to closely read texts in various traditions of argument and to construct arguments of their own, both in speech and in writing, about some of the explicit and implicit issues that these texts raise.

The syllabus familiarizes students with ideas and arguments that have played a formative role in the political and cultural history of our time, alerts them to ideas that have not held an influential role in that history, and acquaints them with some exemplars of critical thinking about alternative cultures, institutions, and practices.