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Cornerstone is designed to provide all students with the opportunity to broaden their understanding of the world and themselves, while strengthening the skills to read closely, write clearly, speak with confidence, and to engage with differing viewpoints and perspectives through general education courses. The initiative emphasizes gateway courses aimed at incoming students and is anchored in transformative texts — the greatest that has been thought, said, and written across human history.

Cornerstone is a 15 credit-hour undergraduate certificate program, which develops Purdue University students’ communication and creative thinking skills, broadens their perspective on the world, and cultivates their minds. The two-semester first year sequence is taught by a team of award-winning Liberal Arts Faculty Fellows. It is followed by three courses built around a series of themes designed to complement academic majors across the Purdue campus.

The Cornerstone certificate functions as a core within a core, providing students with a road map to navigate the varied options of the Purdue core curriculum. Its classes and themes provide context around students’ major areas of study and foster the creative thinking that makes good business and industry leaders, and, even more importantly, good citizens who are capable of self-governance.

Cornerstone students cultivate exceptional communication skills and an appreciation of the need to examine a diversity of opinions and develop as lifelong learners positioned to make a transformative impact on the world and their communities. Given a little nudge, a little guidance, and incentive, Cornerstone students like to write, create, and perform and their products are truly wonderful – smart, reflective, and creative. The Cornerstone Review is a student journal dedicated to some of the very best of their work.

Cornerstone Integrated Liberal Arts program was developed by faculty in response to the pervasive challenges facing the Liberal Arts in higher education: declining numbers of undergraduate majors and declining enrollments in Liberal Arts courses among non-majors. Cornerstone has rejuvenated the liberal arts and restored them as an integral component of a comprehensive education. The innovative program ensures that Purdue University students graduate with exposure to foundational material in history, philosophy, and literature and develop their written and oral communication skills. With an immersion in the humanities, it introduces students to intellectual inquiry through the finest writing and thought across human history.

The innovative Cornerstone certificate developed by the College of Liberal Arts provides a model for how to revive interest and relevance for the liberal arts in higher education.

In September 2020, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Teagle Foundation announced a partnership to revitalize the role of the humanities in general education at college campuses across the country based on Purdue University’s Cornerstone Integrated Liberal Arts program. The NEH and the Teagle Foundation have committed a minimum of $7 million to the replication initiative, Cornerstone: Learning for Living.

Cornerstone takes you places! The From Myth to Philosophy: Ancient Greece class poses for a photo.
Cornerstone takes you places! The From Myth to Philosophy: Ancient Greece class poses for a photo.