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Harvard Praises Williams

Harvard is in the process of reviewing its undergraduate curriculum and requirements. The latest report, available here, ends with a nice Eph reference.

The Committee recognizes that a program of general education that
offers such a high degree of student choice carries with it the enduring responsibility of the Faculty to create and
maintain those courses — departmental and extra-departmental
courses — that are best suited for general education. The responsibility to improve and deepen teaching in science and
international studies, for example, will — to repeat the words of the Report on the Harvard College Curricular Review of April 2004 — depend less on the number of student requirements
than on the number and quality of commitments made by the Faculty to
the teaching of these and other dimensions of general education at the highest level and with the greatest rigor. This
challenge is nothing less than a test of the Faculty’s commitment to
the principles of a liberal education. “Why should all of the creative and liberating ideas for liberal education be left to the
small residential liberal arts colleges?” Peter Gomes has asked,
adding: “With Harvard’s resources and opportunities we could be both Harvard University and Williams College.” We share this view and offer this document as the basis for constructive discussion, creative elaboration, and engaged debate among our colleagues.”

Great stuff. Kudos to whomever nominated Gomes as a Baccalaureate Speaker in 2004.

But good luck turning Harvard into Williams. Harvard faculty, as a group, have very little interest in providing written feedback on undergraduate work. Until that changes, a Harvard education will, on average, be inferior.

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#1 Comment By reader from ’97 On January 6, 2006 @ 12:28 pm

problem is, havard undergrads (whom I’ve been teaching for the past 5 yrs) are just a little too well rounded. they just sort of roll from place to place.

big chunks of williams also look like a boot camp for yuppies, but there’s a little bit of boogie-woogie. hard to find at the big H.

Reverend Professor Gomes and citizen Kane fall into the same trap: it ain’t the professors or the infrastructure or whatever that make H bland and W (somewhat) exciting. it’s the students.

#2 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On January 6, 2006 @ 8:05 pm

it’s the students.

Damn straight. That’s why I turned Harvard down and commuted to my friends’ classes there, creating my own personal Williams that was also Harvard.

Speaking of interesting, and my problems of the hour, Vikram Chiruvolu (who has just gotten DiA into this for me) offers:

also, serious media coverage on telemundo and univision would be the clincher … don’t have a PR person who could make that happen but if you root around, I’m sure someone will turn up

Anyone know someone? The two network people Jose Marquez gave haven’t gotten back… but that was only an hour ago.

And then there’s:

[[VSC:] ] OK, then I’d get as many Mexican teenagers in front of internet terminals as possible and scour yahoogroups, googlegroups, and all the others for as many lists as there are out there, have them join & then send the forward … a few hundred manually sent emails like that with a well-written simple appeal to sign up & forward, in both spanish & english should make some difference …

Nice, simple, alternate. Who will do this?

This has been a helluva ride so far. Anyone else want to get on?

…back to your regularly scheduled program…