Curriculum for the CORE 1 course is divided among seven two-week blocks called "modules".
- Module 1: Origins of the Universe
Throughout history, humans have had a choice of explaining the natural world by faith, or through reason by testable hypotheses. The conflict between these two approaches may be seen, for example, in the life of Galileo. It is also a debate that continues today—in rival explanations of our place in the Universe.
- Module 2: Origins of Life
This module will extend the earlier theme of faith vs. reason to today's ongoing debate over life's origins. Specifically addressed with be competing answers proposed by scientists, humanists, and ethicists to the key questions: "Where and when does life begin?" and "What and whose life is sacred?"
- Module 3: Origins of Societies and Cultures
For centuries, humans have coalesced into societies for pragmatic reasons—food production, shelter, companionship, and defense—evolving distinct cultures as a result. Whereas all societies eventually face the same basic challenges—resource depletion, crime, epidemics, and environmental despoliation, among them—the creative contributions of the diverse cultures in the arts and literature remain unique.
- Module 4: Language and Communication
Societies, like individuals, depend upon an ability to communicate for survival—to express needs and wants, to warn of danger, and to persuade others to join their cause. This module will look at the various ways that humans and societies learn to communicate and persuade through words, symbols, and even unconscious gestures.
- Module 5: Needs of Individuals and Societies
Unlike societies, human beings have needs and desires that are unique to individuals, and cannot, or should not, be met by the society at large. The need for recreation in a setting of natural beauty is one of these; as are religion, art, music, and even sex. Likewise unique to each individual are the ethical choices that each of us makes in fulfilling these needs.
- Module 6: Conflict
Conflict is common not only between but within societies and between society and the individual. This module deals with the full spectrum of conflict from global war to today's debate over protection of the environment, taking the perspective of how and why conflicts occur, how they might be avoided, and how they have traditionally been solved.
- Module 7: The Future
The final module will revisit the major themes of the course from the perspective of how they might be affected by changes already underway, or predicted in the foreseeable future. Both threats and prospects will be examined: from the possibility of a global pandemic, to the implications of genetic engineering and nanotechnology, and the impact of the rapidly changing demographic makeup of California.