Roosevelt Montas: Columbia Professor Takes On Overhaul of Core Curriculum

Historians in the News

Columbia University has taken the next step in its plan to add new multicultural classes to its core curriculum, the great books undergraduate program.

The university announced it would spend $50 million on a project to enhance the core curriculum's multicultural offerings last fall, shortly after students conducted a week-long hunger strike to protest the weakness of the classes. Now Columbia is assigning a young professor of Western civilization, Roosevelt Montas, 34, to direct the effort.

It will not be an easy job. The position will involve balancing the concerns of academics who worry that the university could veer from its focus on a canon of Western texts and students who have been pushing the university to make the core curriculum, called the Core, more inclusive.

Mr. Montas, a Dominican immigrant who moved to New York in his teens and attended Columbia as a scholarship student, is quick to acknowledge that his ethnic and economic background "embodies diversity," which some believe is missing from the core curriculum. Yet he is also one of the Core's most passionate defenders.

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