Faculty Sidesteps Recommendations On Ethnic Studies

In a letter last month. Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles seemed to dismiss many of the recommendations made by a student advisors committee report on the studs of ethnic studies at Harvard. Issued just before Commencement.

"There is surely no one way, and no single methodology, to study race and ethnicity," Knowles wrote in an August 25 letter to the student members of the Academic Affairs Committee who authored the report "Such studies properly flourish in the humanities and in the social sciences. It makes no sense to try to impose substantive or methodological uniformity on a vibrant field marked by extraordinary intellectual variety."

But the report's authors defended then recommendations in interviews yesterday, saying that they do not view the letter from Knowles and Thomson Professor of Government Jorge I. Dominguez as a rejection of their proposals.

"We consider [the letter] as just another step in an ongoing dialogue," said Veronica S. Jung '97, co-chair of the academic affairs committee of the Harvard Foundation for intercultural and Race Relations.

The group plans to write a letter in response to Knowles and Dominguez.

In its report, the committee proposes that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) take a series of actions over the next three years to develop a specific ethnic studies curriculum, including the creation of four endowed professorships.

"Specifically, four endowed professorial chairs--one each in American Latino Studies, Asian American Studies, Native American Studies and Comparative Ethnic Studies--would do much to reform or improve our current curricular quandary," the report says.

Other recommendations in the nearly 300-page report, shared with The Crimson this week, include the upgrading of the status of the FAS committee on ethnic studies, chaired by Dominguez, from an ad hoc to a standing committee, as well as student representation on that committee.

Additionally, the report calls for the creation of an outside committee to evaluate the current state of ethnic studies at Harvard.

"This evaluation would help Harvard gain perspective on [ethnic studies'] current state of affairs and provide tangible suggestions for the improvement of existing programs," the report says.

"I have read all of their recommendations and I find that these students are still in the process of formulating additional proposals," said Dr. S. Allen Counter, the director of the Harvard Foundation.

When asked repeatedly whether he agreed with the recommendations, Counter said only: "I think it is quite important to indicate that I support the efforts to increase the diversity of our academic curriculum by recommending new opportunities for undergraduate courses of study."

The report calls for earmarking funds from the ongoing University Capital Campaign for the endowed professorships. The campaign is designed to raise enough money for 40 new professorships.

"These professorships have not been assigned to particular subject areas, but the key criterion for the allocation of the new chairs will be teaching need," Knowles and Dominguez respond in their letter.

"We believe that [the study of race and ethnicity] should be considered along with others when the allocations of new chairs from the Campaign are made," the letter says.