ON UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION
"Harvard's most radical experiments in curricular planning took place over a century ago, as we moved from a system with virtually no electives to one with virtually no requirements (1869). Since 1910 we have been fine tuning a fundamental commitment to both breadth (General Education, Later the Core) and depth (the concentrations). Harvard is larger and more complicated than it was in 1869 or 1910, and it is less a community. I find it difficult to imagine that the faculty and administration will come together to authorize sweeping changes.
n an age of academic specialization and burgeoning subfields, it is unlikely that our concentrations will commit to substantial reductions in course requirements. Nor is it likely that the faculty will abandon the principle that students should commit a significant number of courses to exploring "ways of thinking" outside their concentrations. New discoveries about the natural and physical world, new art forms, and new social developments will call for new disciplines.
The University's commitment to critical and innovative thought will require us to address these changes. But the university's other mission, to preserve knowledge, will maintain a goodly number of our present programs and disciplines. Universities are notoriously quicker to acquire new programs than to dispense with old ones.
Breadth and depth of knowledge, in some form, will continue to be the hallmarks of a liberal education, as will the ability to think critically, to make informed and cogent choices, to contend with the explosion of information, and to express oneself effectively in speech and writing.
I do not think that anyone could have predicted at the beginning of the 20th century where our sciences and humanities have gone (e.g. string theory, genetic engineering, gender studies, African-American studies). I will not predict this for the 21st. The new century will be our students' adventure, as the expiring century has been ours." Dean of Undergraduate Education