By the work of Harer, the reduced homology of the complex of curves is a fundamental cohomological object associated to all torsion-free finite index subgroups of the mapping class group. We call this homology group the Steinberg module of the mapping class group. It was previously proved that the curve complex has the homotopy type of a bouquet of spheres. Here, we give the first explicit homologically nontrivial sphere in the curve complex and show that under the action of the mapping class group, the orbit of this homology class generates the reduced homology of the curve complex.
"Homology of the curve complex and the Steinberg module of the mapping class group." Duke Math. J. 161 (10) 1943 - 1969, 15 July 2012. https://doi.org/10.1215/00127094-1645634