Students, Deans Join To Produce Book on Curriculum
Michael A. Schachter ’05, a representative on the Committee on Concentrations, said that his idea for the book sprang from a feeling that “the student side of the Curricular Review sort of lacked a soul.”
“I think that there really hasn’t been as much discussion among students on the Curricular Review as it could be and should be and I think a lot of that is because there hasn’t been opportunities for visions to get out there,” Schachter said.
The idea for the book parallels the collection of faculty essays titled “Essays on General Education in Harvard College,” which was published last fall. The essays will address the question of what the purpose of an education should be.
The delay in the Curricular Review process—which was supposed to be voted on this Spring—gave representatives the time to get students more involved in the process, according to Curricular Review representative and former Undergraduate Council (UC) President Matthew W. Mahan ’05.
“I think by and large students are concerned with a few of the specific issues but really haven’t been confronted with the broader debates,” Mahan said. The UC will help solicit essays for the book.
The Curricular Review committees held several events to solicit student feedback, including breakfasts with Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 and open forums for students. But student representatives said that these attempts did not generate any substantial student involvement or discussion.
“All of those were really nice outreach structures but it was inevitable that it was a very superficial conversation or summary of what the review was supposed to be,” Mahan said.
Gross was unavailable for comment last week.
Assistant Dean of the College John T. O’Keefe, who serves on the Advising Committee, wrote in an e-mail that the forums were “very useful in focusing the committee’s work on the student experience of advising.”
However, O’Keefe wrote that the student essays will provide an opportunity for “sustained reflection” from undergraduates rather than the specific and pointed comments that the forums generate.
“We’re trying to make this a little more intellectually compelling than ‘I hate section and here’s why.’” Mahan said, adding that the essays must tackle the broader issue of education in whatever framework.
The four student curricular review representatives—Schachter, Mahan, Danny F. Yagan ’06 and Emily E. Riehl ’06—will stay over the summer to help select the 10 to 20 best essays and then revise them. They hope to distribute the “mini-book” over Freshmen Week and to hold forums or activities to engage the freshmen in the Curricular Review process.
Essays must be less than 10 pages, and are due on May 13. They can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Liz C. Goodwin can be reached at email@example.com.