Belknap Robert L. The University Seminars at Columbia University
The University Seminars are part of an enterprise to which Columbia University devotes unique attention, the education of its own professors. Almost a century ago, Columbia invented a core curriculum which forces a thousand undergraduates to read a translation of the same major classic in the same week, and read it well enough to talk about it in a small class, since there are no lectures in these courses. Besides changing the conversations in the dormitories where these students live, these core courses force the fifty professors, assistant professors and graduate students who teach them to read the same book actively. Slavists who have had to teach Homer, Plato, and Dante a few times in such a course, and have discussed them with their colleagues in other departments, have received an education few other Slavists have; and the classicists and philosophers forced to discuss Dostoevsky have a symmetrical experience.