Student Perspectives: How the Core Helped Me with My Major

Student sits at a desk in a classroom with an open book on the desk.

March 15, 2019

The Liberal Arts education manifests itself most saliently in the University Core Curriculum, offering a breadth of knowledge as well as transferrable skills that serve students well. It provides students with a variety of tools to help them flourish in both their majors and in their lives after Gonzaga.

Here you can get a glimpse into how students in majors from the natural and formal sciences to the arts and humanities perceive how the core has led to their academic success.


Emily Arnesen stands next to Spike the Bulldog.
Major: Economics
Minors: Mathematics, Sports Management
Emily Arnesen (’20)
The preparation for my major through the core has built a strong foundation in writing, analytical thinking, reflecting, communicating, and ethical reasoning. In addition to these skills, I have gained a greater understanding of the world around me in social justice and global studies classes. From learning about the injustice that coffee farmers face in many developing countries in my First-Year Seminar to learning to form sound arguments in my Reasoning, Communication and Speech, and Writing classes, the core has given me a greater understanding of the world I live in and how to use my major to go out into the world and make it a better place.



Portrait of student Jared Brown
Major: Journalism
Minors: Promotion, Writing
Jared Brown (’19)
Core courses in philosophy and communication have enhanced my discernment in real-world situations. As editor of The Gonzaga Bulletin, that knowledge helped guide me through tough editorial decisions. During that time as a student leader, it also prepared me to communicate effectively with my peers. Additionally, the Arts & Sciences core challenged me to expand my viewpoint in areas like psychology, sociology, and some extra history, which I might not have explored otherwise. As far as my aspirations after graduation, I recognize how my well-rounded and socially-minded education has groomed me to serve my community as a journalist.



Portrait of student Alea Chatman
Majors: Environmental Studies, Religious Studies
Minor: Leadership Studies
Alea Chatman (’20)
Coming to Gonzaga, I had little exposure to many of the subjects included within the core curriculum, including religious studies, philosophy, and communications. The core courses I have taken thus far have created a foundation on which the classes within my major build. Yes, Gonzaga’s core taught me the details of Vatican II, Socrates’ thoughts on society, and the structure of an effective presentation. But, more importantly, these courses challenged me to cultivate a personal, critical understanding of the dynamic nature and existence of the world and society through the development of an empathetic mind and heart. I feel more equipped and able to handle the content of the classes within my major because of the skills I have acquired through the core curriculum.



Portrait of student Kate Gibson
Major: Computer Science & Computational Thinking (Biology Concentration)
Minor: Mathematics
Kate Gibson (’20)
I’ve enjoyed and learned things from my core classes that have really shaped me as a person in a way that pursuing the B.S. program in computer science wouldn’t have. I’ve learned a lot from my sociology classes, and I’ve taken a women’s and gender studies class. Philosophy has given me a much broader perspective than just the narrow-minded perspective of computer science—that we should just [create something] because it’s cool. Philosophy addresses the impact of the technology and why we’re coming from where we are. It creates a pretty interesting combination, especially now that there are more philosophical debates of whether this is ethical and how we can better society through computer science.



Portrait of student Konner Sauve
Majors: Psychology, English
Minor: Leadership Studies
Konner Sauve (’20)
As I reflect over the past four years, the core classes Gonzaga University offers have influenced the way I think and act. These courses that span communication, religion, philosophy, and more have given me a breadth of knowledge that I have built upon in my psychology major. Philosophical concepts from my Ethics and Human Nature courses impact how I think about my psychology coursework. This knowledge has given me the confidence to engage more critically in my major and present me with the ability to interact with the breadth and depth of information, which I utilize outside the classroom in extracurricular activities, leadership positions, and jobs.



Portrait of student Tori Shaw
Majors: Biology, Environmental Studies
Tori Shaw (’19)
The core classes that I have taken while at Gonzaga have enhanced my ability to engage with environmental topics that I am most passionate about, like sustainability and conservation. I have learned how to think, how to interact with my peers, and how to engage with the ever-changing world around me. Courses like Ethics of Climate Change and Philosophy of Human Nature have encouraged me to think about my major though a different lens. The perspective that I have gained through a wide range of classes will help to further my career as an environmentalist well into the future.