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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

A COURSE IN CONTEMPORARY HISTORY

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

In the present-day maze of quickly succeeding events and complex economic and political developments, the average undergraduate wanders about, eagerly seizing such bits of the news as have meaning for him, rejecting the rest. He has a vague feeling that when we "get back to normal times" he may be able to find out what it all means. The reason that he cannot grasp it now is, primarily, that he does not know where to find adequate accounts of current affairs, nor how to correlate his knowledge of them. In the second place he has not enough time. He usually reads the morning paper more or less carefully and possibly sees one of the weekly reviews but beyond that his burdened program does not permit him to go. Yet the interest is there: it is apparent in the college discussion groups, popular lectures, forums and political clubs, and is even more evident in the crowded classrooms of modern history and applied economics.

Here is a real need that should be recognized by the University. In meeting it the college authorities could not do better than to institute an accredited course on contemporary history, similar to those given at Columbia and other universities. The course could be based on weekly lectures by specialists on subjects in their special fields, calling the attention of students to the most reliable sources of information and teaching them how to check up newspaper articles. The student could then be left to choose his own reading, and the course would become a liberal education in itself and a source of pleasure rather than a weekly chore. The College should give half-credit for the work each year and allow undergraduates to take "Contemporaneous History" in four successive years.

If it did no more than teach men where to go for their information, such a course would perform a valuable function. The ability which it would give in collecting and weighing evidence on a mooted question, would be of value throughout life.

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