College May Revise Requirements For Honors in General Studies
Harvard's requirements for an Honors degree in General Studies may undergo revision as a result of a Faculty meeting yesterday.
A particular provision which has been questioned is the one that allows a student to apply for the General Studies degree without first obtaining an endorsement from his department. The meeting revealed enough uncertainty about the advantages of this policy to cause the entire matter to be placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the Faculty Committee on Educational Policy. The CEP, in turn, will put forward a motion either approving or disapproving present policy at the December Faculty meeting.
Dean Monro, whose report on the present C.L.G.S. program opened yesterday's discussion, said after the meeting that there was "a certain feeling" that the departments should have "the power to make a recommendation." He said no steps had been taken at the meeting to determine the extent of this feeling, but he "didn't think anyone wanted to go so far as to give the departments a veto." Until February of 1961, when the present system was enacted, departmental control over the C.L.G.S. was strong enough to be described in this way.
The departments, Monro said, feel that they should have a voice in the C.L.G.S. program because "they know the students the best." The necessity for departmental approval was removed in 1961 out of a desire to standardize the procedure for applying for the C.L.G.S.
The Faculty also asked for a CEP motion on a current rule preventing the student from applying for a C.L.G.S. if he has taken part in his department's senior Honors tutorial program. The at the beginning of his senior year whether or not he will write a thesis, and it leaves no hope of an Honors degree in General Studies for students who plan to write a thesis but do not realize until early winter that they will be unable to complete it.
This ruling has been in effect since 1937. The main argument in favor of it is that unless the College forces its students to commit themselves to their theses with some degree of finality, a large number of undergraduates will discard the work after a first, disillusioning contact with the actual problems of thesis-writing.
Many Faculty members, however, would prefer to give the departments the option of moving students into the C.L.G.S. program at a much later date than the current Nov. 1 deadline. The reasoning behind this proposal is that its flexibility would permit greater attention to individual circumstance.
Monro said that one other question about the C.L.G.S. program had been raised at yesterday's meeting, concerning the program's value in fields where the requirements for Honors do not differ substantively from the requirements for regular concentration. He said more research would be necessary on this problem before there could be any request for action from the CEP.
Monro's report during the meeting brought out the fact that the number of students graduating with Honors in General Studies rose from 76 in 1961 to 139 in 1962. Most of the increase came in fields like History, Government, and Economics, which formerly had been reluctant to recommend students for the C.L.G.S.