About the Core | University of Portland

About the Core

The University of Portland has long had a strong shared curriculum offering students a breadth of disciplinary perspectives from the liberal arts. While the specific course requirements have evolved over time, including through a significant revitalization implemented starting in 2021, the underlying spirit of the UP Core is part of the enduring character of the University.

Core Vision Statement

Two students at desks in classroomThe 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 Core Curriculum 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 Core Curriculum 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:

  • Literacy, Dialogue, and Expression
  • Religion, Faith, and Ethics
  • Aesthetic Inquiry, Imagination, and the Creative Process
  • Scientific and Quantitative Literacy and Problem Solving
  • Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and the Common Good
  • Global and Historical Consciousness

Ruminations on the Core and "Fulfillment of Creation"

Fulfillment of Creation from the St. John's BibleThis image of “Fulfillment of Creation” is from one of UP’s great treasures, our Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible, the first fully hand calligraphed, illuminated Bible crafted in over 500 years. It’s a fitting visual image for the aspirations, and intellectual energy poured into UP’s Core Curriculum.

The artist imagines Divine love as pure creative energy, taking on numerous forms, always resulting in something new.  Starting with the cross-shaped star seen through the Hubble telescope, flowing into cobalt blue—a sign of the infinite—and moving through the zeroes and ones of computer code to atoms engaged in the ongoing dance of life, to graphs, plot points shone a light on human knowledge and exploration. The six bars at the bottom of the illumination recall the six days of Creation in which the universe was spoken into being. They are incomplete…for humans are co-creators with the Divine, in an ongoing process of innovation, integration, synthesis and leaps of fashioning what is altogether new.

UP’s Core Curriculum comprises six habits that students and faculty will explore and deepen in their time at the university. The knowledge, skills and dispositions cultivated via the Core Curriculum will—as with the creation of the universe—never be completed in anyone’s lifetime, but WILL lead participants into acts of creation and imagination that will help to heal our bruised, blessed world, not only during the UP experience, but more crucially, in the world of life beyond The Bluff.

[Image: Fulfillment of Creation, Thomas Ingmire, Copyright 2011, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission.  All rights reserved.]