Dear Editor:

Last week, an Opinion piece entitled “First Years: the New Magis Core is Nothing to Stress About” was published in “The Mirror”. The spirit of the piece is correct – there is nothing to stress about! However, as the Director of the “Magis” Core I would like to make a few clarifications.

The “Magis” Core is in fact a bit different than the core that continues to be in effect for current sophomores, juniors and seniors. I’ve summarized some similarities and differences below.


  • The number of curricular requirements is essentially the same at 22: 20 courses and 2 diversity requirements in the earlier core, and 15 courses and 7 signature elements in the “Magis” Core. 
  • Both programs emphasize traditional courses that are central to a well-rounded education in the Jesuit tradition, including introductory and advanced courses in history, philosophy, and religious studies, plus additional courses in math, literature, visual and performing arts and natural and social sciences.


  • There are differences in the distribution of courses. For example, all first-year students will complete a newly structured Composition and Rhetoric course (ENW100). Students graduating before 2023 have completed a one year sequence in EN11 and EN12.
  •  All undergraduates will now take at least one college-level language course (in the past, this requirement varied by school), plus one course in mathematics. Students can then elect to take one additional class in either language or math. 
  • TheMagis” Core is a tiered experience. Tier 1 (Orientation) is a common foundation in composition and rhetoric, math, modern languages, history, philosophy, and religious studies, and should be completed in the first 2 years. (Note: unlike the earlier core, AP credits cannot be used to exempt students from Tier 1 courses. They can, however, be applied toward electives or other course requirements.) 
  • In Tier two (Exploration), students build on the foundation and form connections to their majors and minors. Students select courses from a wide variety of offerings in the humanities (2 courses in history, philosophy, or religious studies; and 1 each in literature and visual / performing arts) and the sciences (2 courses in biology, chemistry/biochemistry, or physics, and 2 courses in communication, sociology/anthropology, psychology, economics, or politics).
  • While the earlier Core required two diversity courses (1 in U.S. diversity and 1 in world diversity), theMagis” Core asks students to complete 7 signature elements: 1 interdisciplinary (ID), 3 writing intensive (WAC/WID), and 3 social justice (SJ) experiences during their time at Fairfield.  Faculty have been working collectively to weave these important elements into their courses. Of interest, some courses may fulfill more than one element.

In summary, we agree that there is “nothing to stress about”. However, it’s important to recognize that a great deal of work was done to restructure the core, to enrich the student experience at Fairfield, and to capitalize on our strong Jesuit tradition of building men and women for others.  In Latin, “Magis” means “greater” or “more,” and the word emphasizes that the “Magis” core allows students increased flexibility, while they achieve the same number of curricular requirements. Please refer to the course catalog or speak with your academic advisors for more information. The changes are small but intentional.  

Sincerely yours,

Shannon Harding, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychology

Director of the Magis Core

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