Course Number

CORE 151

Course Title

Legacies of the Ancient World

Course Date

Fall 2018

Course Level


Professor or Professors' Departmental/Program Affiliation

Ferdinand von Muench, University Studies

Document Type



Core Curriculum


Core 151 “Legacies of the Ancient World” is a “great books” course that explores texts from ancient Israel, Greece, and Rome, and their influence on the intellectual, cultural, and artistic history of the world up to the present day. Within this common framework, each section of Core 151 can choose its own thematic focus and methodological approach, and each instructor can add ancient, medieval, and modern “response texts” from cultures in East and West, North and South, to the common list of required books.

Core 151 T will emphasize “openings.” Every living organism must be open to its environment to survive. Human beings are uniquely open to the world around them: we are built to learn, and our survival depends on a constant and complex series of physical, emotional, and intellectual interactions with our surroundings. Next to the first three years of life, the “age of opportunity” in adolescence (age 10-25 years), and especially in early adulthood (18-25 years), is the most open phase in the life of a person, both neurologically and socially: it is a unique opportunity to reconsider the world and the values we have been brought up in; to engage with new places, people, ideas, languages, and cultures; to rewire our brains and to reinvent ourselves. Liberal education (properly understood) cultivates the openness and open-endedness of human learning, as opposed to a narrowly utilitarian training; in the political sphere, the “open societies” of liberal democracy allow, and depend on, people to open their minds to each other’s thoughts.


This syllabus is for Fall 2018 only. Every time I teach Core 151, I choose a new theme and create a new syllabus. Students interested in enrolling in my Core 151 course are encouraged to contact me ( for updated information.


The syllabus may not be applicable to the current semester. Be sure to verify content with the professor(s) listed in the document.