New U.C. Committee Enters Debate On Core

Group Composed Entirely of Students

The Undergraduate Council is diving into the Core reform debate with its recent creation of the new Select Committee on Undergraduate Requirements, comprised entirely of students.

Faculty and administrators are scheduled to review the Core next year, and the new committee plans to have student recommendations prepared by that time.

"I feel passionately that the present system is horrible," said Charles L. Barzun '97, one of the committee members who is not an Undergraduate Council representative.

Barzun said his ideal reconstruction of the Core would challenge its current philosophy. But he added that "given the bureaucratic nightmare that is Harvard, we'll seek more minor reform."

The student ad hoc committee was created to evaluate the Core and make recommendations to the College regarding the current structure of undergraduate Core requirements, as well as those for expository writing, foreign language and quantitative reasoning.

"One of my hopes is that the recommendations we make towards the end of spring will be influential in [the faculty's] review [of the Core next year]," said Justin P. Label '97, council vice president and Select Committee member.

The new committee has 11 members, only three of whom are council delegates. Members were chosen by the council's student affairs committee from a pool of 18 applicants.

Label said he was "thoroughly impressed by the people who showed up [at the student affairs committee meeting] Monday night."

Committee members aim to examine the philosophy behind the Core, while also addressing practical concerns such as section size and an expansion of the course selections offered each year.

Both Barzun and Label advocate more focus onclasses which teach basic knowledge applicable tomost students' needs.

They said a common student concern is that,although Core planners strive to teach "approachesto learning," most students lose touch withknowledge itself in the process.

"They don't want to teach you bodies ofknowledge, just the approach," Barzun said."That's like asking you to think like a historian,but you can't if you don't know history."

Specifically, Barzun said he seeks to implement"more broad survey courses--of the humanities,political philosophy, European history and thesciences.

"Not watered down, silly science courses," headded, "but classes like physics that actuallyteach you how physics works--but not necessarilygeared for concentrators."

Other committee members said they feel that theCore's ideals are salvageable. "I agree with theintellectual purpose behind the Core," said RobertDitzion '96, "but I don't think that it's reallycarried out."

Ditzion said he is committed to promoting morecourse choices for students in an attempt torectify what students claim is a limitedselection.

The creation of the Select Committee forUndergraduate Requirements is the last of threeproposals dealing with the Core co-sponsored bycouncil members Fine and N. Van Taylor '95-'96.

In an October administrative summit, Fineoutlined all three proposals. He says he waschallenged by Director of the Core Program SusanW. Lewis to produce his own evaluation of theCore. Attempts to reach Lewis for commentyesterday were unsuccessful.

The Select Committee does not yet have a chair,but one will be chosen by the council's studentaffairs committee at next Monday's meeting