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Nine Secondary Fields Approved

Minors OKed include Philosophy, VES, Sociology

Students will have at least nine secondary concentrations to choose from this spring.

On Tuesday, the Education Policy Committee (EPC) approved eight proposals out of the roughly 40 submitted by departments, according to Assistant Dean of the College Stephanie H. Kenen. One proposal had already been green-lighted, she said.

The following fields have been approved: Romance Languages and Literatures, Sociology, Visual and Environmental Studies, Linguistics, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Philosophy, History of Art and Architecture, Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Folklore and Mythology, according to Kenen.

Secondary concentrations will require between four and six courses. Details about many of the approved fields will be posted on the College’s website shortly after Thanksgiving break, she added.

No more than one course that counts toward a secondary field can be applied to any other requirement, Kenen said.

Although students will only be allowed to double-count one class for now, members of the faculty have requested that this issue be revisited at a later date, she said. “The EPC thought that the best time to review this is after the faculty adopted a new plan for general education,” she added.

Fifteen to 20 secondary concentrations will likely be ready for the spring term, Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 said at Wednesday’s meeting of the Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE).

These approved secondary fields will be available to seniors graduating this year, Kenen said.

The government and astronomy department websites already list information about their secondary field programs. Neither department’s proposals have been approved, she said.

“There were some suggestions made to government and we are waiting for their final response,” she said. “I don’t predict there would be any problems with their final revisions.”

She said that there has only been a preliminary discussion concerning the astronomy department’s proposal.

Astronomy Department Chair James M. Moran, the Donald H. Menzel Professor of Astrophysics, said that the information on his department’s website is just a draft plan.

The government department chair could be not be reached for comment.

The economics department has not proposed a plan for secondary concentrations, said Ryan A. Thorpe ’08, who sits on the CUE.

“There is an internal debate within the economics department, whether or not to submit a secondary field proposal,” he added.

Although a secondary field has been approved in Romance Languages and Literatures, this will not replace the current language citation program, said Acting Chair of the Department and the Robert S. and Ilse Friend Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures Luis Fernandez-Cifuentes.

The astronomy department has created two new courses for its secondary fields program, according to Moran.

“One is going to be offered this spring called Black Holes and the Violent Universe,” he said. “[The other course,] Planets Orbiting Other Stars, will be taught in the fall of 2007.”

The philosophy department’s secondary field program consists of six tracks, each of which will require six courses, according to Department Chair and Walter Beverly Pearson Professor of Modern Mathematics and Mathematical Logic Warren Goldfarb ’69.

One professor said he thinks the new program will be a success.

“Most people will probably do a secondary field—it’s Harvard, after all,” said Chair of the Committee on Degrees in Folklore and Mythology and Professor of Scandinavian Folklore Stephen A. Mitchell.

He said he was glad that folklore and mythology would be offered as a secondary field, but he worries that students may not have enough space left in their schedules for electives.

“I just fear that people will pass through without having the experienced all the opportunities that Harvard has,” he said.

—Staff writer Peter R. Raymond can be reached at praymond@fas.harvard.edu.