Dr. Emma Cohen de Lara publishes edited volume “Back to the Core”

21 April 2017

AUC lecturer and tutor Dr. Emma Cohen de Lara’s edited volume “Back to the Core: Rethinking Core Texts in Liberal Arts and Sciences Education in Europe” has recently been published by Vernon Press. The collection offers commentary on the changing nature of higher education in Europe, highlighting a shift from offering training in very specialised disciplines, to adapting a broader liberal arts and sciences model as a foundation for future educational trajectories.

Along with this increase in liberal arts and sciences programmes, is the use and implementation of so called core texts. This volume offers diverse perspectives on these two trends, with special attention given to how core texts are shaping liberal arts and sciences education in European classrooms.

From conference to publication

In September 2015, AUC organised the first “Liberal Arts and Sciences and Core Texts Conference” in Europe together with the Association for Core Texts and Courses. Welcoming guests from around the world, the conference was a great success in opening a dialogue about the role of core texts in a liberal arts and sciences education.

Dr. Cohen de Lara is pleased to announce that, after much hard work by the authors and the editors, a selection of the papers presented at the conference has now been published. The edited volume includes contributions from European and American teachers and administrators in the liberal arts and sciences, and deals with topics such as:

  • which texts should we read
  • core texts in a digital age
  • ways of teaching core texts
  • teaching the health sciences by means of core texts
  • art as a core text
  • research and core texts 

Back to the Core: Rethinking Core Texts in Liberal Arts & Sciences Education in Europe


Whereas liberal arts and sciences education arguably has European roots, European universities have evolved over the last century to become advanced research institutions, mainly offering academic training in specialised disciplines. The Bologna process, started by the European Union in the late nineties, encouraged European institutions of higher education to broaden their curricula and to commit to undergraduate education with increased vigor.

One of the results is that Europe is currently witnessing a proliferation of liberal arts and sciences colleges and broad bachelor degrees. This edited volume fills a gap in the literature by providing reflections on the recent developments in Europe with regard to higher education in the liberal arts and sciences. The first section includes reflections from either side of the Atlantic about the nature and aims of liberal arts and sciences education and the way in which it takes shape, or should take shape in European institutions of higher learning.

The edited volume takes as a distinct approach to liberal arts and sciences education by focusing on the unique way in which core texts – i.e. classic texts from philosophical, historical, literary or cultural traditions involving “the best that has been written” – meet the challenges of modern higher education in general and in Europe in particular. This approach is manifested explicitly in the second section that focuses on how specific core texts promote the goals of liberal arts and sciences education, including the teaching methods, curricular reflections, and personal experiences of teaching core texts. The edited volume is based on a selection of papers presented at a conference held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in September 2015. It is meant to impart the passion that teachers and administrators share about developing the liberal arts and sciences in Europe with the help of core texts in order to provide students with a well-rounded, formative, and genuinely liberal education.

Contributing authors

Ewa Atanassow, Joop Berding, Ruth A. Bevan, Teresa Vallès-Botey, Emma Cohen de Lara, Allard den Dulk, Iko Doeland, Hanke Drop, Topi Heikkerö, David Janssens, Richard Kamber, David Kretz, Arie-Jan Kwak, J. Scott Lee, Geoff Lehman, Alkeline van Lenning, Gelijn Molier, Christopher B. Nelson, Álvaro Sánchez-Ostiz, Matthew D. Post, Andrea Rodríguez-Prat, Sandra G. L. Schruijer, Thomas A. Stapleford, Elizabeth Stewart, Angela C. Miceli Stout, Miguel Tamen, Nigel Tubbs, Connell Vaughan  


  • Emma Cohen de Lara, Amsterdam University College
  • Hanke Drop, University of Applied Sciences Utrecht  

Published by  Amsterdam University College