Students Debate Ethnic Studies

Students and faculty members called for students to take action to make Harvard devote more resources to ethnic studies at a panel last night entitled "The Future of Ethnic Studies at Harvard."

The panel, which included three faculty members and two students, was designed to "couple discussion between faculty and students about how to cultivate interest in ethnic studies," said Peggy T. Lim '00, executive editor of Diversity and Distinction, a monthly campus publication.

Diversity and Distinction sponsored the event with the Multicultural Issues Forum.

Panelists and audience members discussed the state of ethnic studies at Harvard and what they could do to improve Harvard's offerings.

Currently, Harvard's efforts center around an ad hoc committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences called the Committee on Ethnic Studies (CES) which distributes information, organizes discussion forums and manages a program of visiting professors.

But panelists said more should be done.

"Harvard should be ashamed of not having an ethnic studies concentration," said Doris Sommer, a professor of Romance languages and literatures. "If you want to study America, you have to study ethnic studies.... You have to study this country as it is right now."

Advocates of a new ethnic studies concentration seek an interdisciplinary program that would study ethnicity through fields ranging from economics to literature.