Core Curriculum

Please don't read this

Like a Wet Paint sign, we have to see for ourselves—curiosity is what makes us human. If it's interesting, we want to know more—where it came from, how it works, what it can do for us. That's the premise behind our core curriculum. Instead of pushing information at you through ordinary general education courses you might find at other colleges, we allow you to pick from a portfolio of interesting topics—topics you're intrigued by and want to learn more about, and through these, explore fundamental concepts, apply them to current issues, and build practical skills you'll use throughout your life. 

Roanoke is one of the few colleges in the country to implement such a creative approach to learning. We consider our core curriculum to be one of the most important differentiators between us and other leading institutions of higher education.

Why shouldn't learning be fun?

Watch Video two students in a lab
When you were little, the world was an amazing place, full of wonder. We want to make it that way again.

“My core classes helped me to make a connection between all of my classes and filled in the gaps in my education.”

Ashley Gilroy '13

Nothing like High School

Through courses like these, you'll develop critical thinking, learn scientific methodology, gain historical and cultural perspective, and apply them to contemporary issues.

  • Ancient Latin America
  • Atlantic Slave Trade
  • Chemistry and Crime
  • Energy at the Crossroads
  • Global Citizenship
  • Global Health Disparities
  • How Organisms Evolve
  • How Women Got the Vote
  • Mind and Body
  • Mobile Apps
  • Myths of Musical Genius
  • Pharmaceuticals in the US
  • Poetry: What Is It Good for?
  • Psychology in the Media
  • Science vs. Religion?
  • Sports & Culture
  • Statistics and Food
  • Statistics and the Sports industry
  • Stories from the World
  • A Study of American Film

Roanoke professor advises curricular reform internationally

A male professor smiling in front of the libraryHigher Education in Hong Kong has undergone a dramatic transformation, Dr. Paul Hanstedt was there to help develop the new general education curriculum. He found that, while Hong Kong university graduates were brilliant—scoring near the top of international assessments of math and science—Hong Kong businesses and employers weren't hiring them.

"Those students were very, very, very good at taking exams," he says. "They were extremely knowledgeable in their fields. But by the time a student leaves the university, everything they learned may have already changed."

To better prepare students, Hong Kong universities have developed an educational system that can respond to these needs. Hanstedt was well-suited to helping the country make these changes. He was one of the campus leaders in Roanoke College's revision of its general education program, and he consults with universities both in the United States and abroad about matters of liberal education, course design and writing pedagogies.

In May 2012, Hanstedt literally wrote the book on the subject, publishing "General Education Essentials:  A Guide for College Faculty" (Jossey-Bass/Wiley).