Core at Eight-Year Low

Number of Course Offerings Remains Small Despite Reform

Some of the most talked-about news on campus last year was the reform of the Core program, but you wouldn't know it to look at the Core section of this year's course catalog, which has changed little in either size or content.

One of the most concrete provisions a promise of six courses in each area per term, is no closer to being achieved than it was when it was conceived.

There are 85 courses offered in the Core this year, an eight-year low, despite previous assurances that this year would improve on last year's low of 86.

Director of the Core Program Susan W. Lewis, who promised more courses after last year's low, acknowledges that selection and over-crowding remain a problem.

"I think students will appreciate more choice," Lewis says. "That's one thing that students have quite rightly complained about in the past."

Members of the Committee on the Core Program say that it will take some time before each Core subdivision achieves the total goal of 120 courses for the current 10 subdivisions of the Core.

Last year, when the Core offerings hit 86, Lewis attributed the low number to year-to-year fluctuation, caused by Faculty leaves, differing teaching responsibilities and other factors.

In a fax last year, Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles promised twice to "try harder" and "work harder" to increase offerings. Professor of Government Michael J. Sandel echoed Knowles' sentiment at the time, saying the committee of the Core he chairs was "working hard to assure there will be more next year."

Moral Reasoning, which had only three offerings last year, offers six options this year.

Although there is still a low number of Core offerings this year, the distribution is more even, with no area reaching the paucity in last year's Moral Reasoning offerings.

The year before, the Core had hit a 10-year high of 105 courses offered (see graphic, this page).

Since the Faculty decision came at the end of the last academic year, the Committee on the Core Program is only beginning to recruit for courses under the new requirements, Lewis says.

"The subcommittee chairs are going to be recruiting for Cores quite heavily this year," she says.

Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles noted that such substantial changes as have been outlined in the new plan will require a great deal of work before they can be fully realized.

"Course development (especially new course development) is very time-consuming, of course, but we shall do everything we can," Knowles writes in a fax.