Details, Details, Details
AFTER TOKEN student consultation, and with surprisingly little debate, the Faculty passed the Core Curriculum plan by a three-to-one margin last week. Core opponents condemned the plan as a restrictive infringement on student choice. But many are withholding criticism until the final details are worked out. Indeed, the proposal as it now stands is vague and tentative, and the Standing Committees on the Core, to be formed over the summer, will have considerable power to shape the final character of the plan. To ensure that the proposal does not bear out its opponents' worst fears, the committees will have to address several serious areas of student concern.
The most important task for the committees is to fill each area of study with the best possible courses. The plan as currently written gives only vague suggestions for course design, and the committees will have enormous discretion in this area. It is important that the committees take steps to assure that students have wide course opportunities within each area of study, so that they are not forced, by limited choices, to take uninspired, large lecture courses.
The committees will also decide on the feasibility of different by-pass and floater plans that have the potential to give students needed flexibility and freedom in fulfilling requirements. A number of other questions, such as the relationship of Expository Writing to the Core, the final shape of the language requirement, and the possibilities of taking Core courses pass/fail, are also in the hands of the committee.
THOUGH STUDENTS HAVE been excluded from most of the decision-making process to this point, the Faculty still seems reluctant to provide formally for student input. Student members of the committees will not have voting rights. More substantial representation is needed if the final resolution of Core controversies is to reflect student interests adequately.
Finally, it is imperative that the Faculty not feel that its efforts for reform of undergraduate education have been fully spent now that it has passed the Core. Notoriously problematic areas of concern remain, such as tutorials, student-faculty contact, advising, and alternative concentrations. The Core addresses only a small part of undergraduate education at Harvard. Once it has worked out the details of the Core, the Faculty should enthusiastically turn its energies to these other areas of reform.