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About the Core

Group in library

The humanities are a central part of a college education. Studying literature, philosophy, and history strengthens valuable skills in research, communication, and careful thought. It exposes us to powerful ideas that broaden our horizons and help us reflect on how to live.

With this in mind, Stanford has created the Humanities Core as a structured, guided program for undergraduates. Many of the world’s greatest problems—climate change, inequality, poverty, and conflict—involve questions of value and meaning that the humanities explore.

  • What do we owe to future generations?
  • Is there an obligation to remember the past and, if so, how?
  • What does it mean to be free?

The humanities also help us answer the most profound questions that every human being faces: How am I to choose? What gives my life meaning?

The humanities are a springboard for thinking about issues like these with clarity and insight—in the classroom and in all of life’s arenas. As a forum for addressing these deep questions we all face, the Humanities Core provides students with experiences that form the foundations of purposeful careers and meaningful lives.