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Articles on Fields of Concentration


These articles on the various Fields of Concentration will appear in the "Confidential Guide" next September. Therefore the current year is referred to as "last year," etc. Criticisms will be welcome.


Government is second only to Economics in the number of concentrators, and the two fields are similar in many ways. During the last three years the number of Government concentrators has increased 30%, being last year 384--the largest increase of any field in College. Like Economics, it is a field whose importance is becoming more and more widespread, but also like Economics it is a subject in which one cannot gain practical experience in College. The recent large increase was perhaps mainly due to the fact that students who were not really interested in the subject concentrated in it in the belief that it would help them in Government or business. As taught here, the field is theoretical.

Concentrators are agreed, on the other hand, that the deciding factor in whether a student will profit from concentration in Government is his interest. If not interested, he will find no stimulation in the field at all. It is not enlivened by the lectures as some History courses are, and he will find that it has no direct bearing on any future occupation. Many in the field plan to go to law school after graduation, but the Harvard Law School places no premium on concentration in Government, rather encouraging concentration in other fields such as Sociology and Philosophy.

The four special fields of Government are American Government; Political Thought and Institutions; International Law and Relations; and Comparative Administration. In May of Senior year candidates for the degree must pass an examination on their special field as well as one on the field in general, and also take a third exam, in their Senior year, correlating Government with either History or Economics.

Concentrators in Government are urged to take, or at least sit in on, Sociology A and Philosophy A; and Economics 51, 61, and 63 provide good correlation for American Government. History 1 and Economics A are required for all concentrators in Government.

Government 1 should definitely be taken Freshman year by anyone who is thinking of concentrating in this field. He should not, however, be discouraged by the dullness of this course, for an elementary course in a wide subject like Government is likely to be scattered and superficial. With it History 1 should be taken rather than Economics during the first year. These two together will require a good deal of reading, but are not overburdening.

In the special field of American Government, course 7a and b should follow Government 1. They concern the Politics and Administration of the National Government. The material in 7a is largely covered in course 1, but 7b is new and more practical material. Holcombe is popular in both these courses.

Government 12b and 12a, two half courses on Party Government coming in that order, were recommended, especially the latter, which will be omitted during 1938-39. The reading was praised, but the reading list did not come out until too late and assignments often disagreed with it. Of courses 13 and 19 on Constitutional Government and Law in the United States, the former Professor Wright's was the more satisfactory, requiring more time, as well. "Legal quibbling" was the description of course 19, but it was recognized that this was virtually a Law School course.

Government 29, on Government Regulation of Industry, is a valuable subject, especially for correlation with Economics, but the best word put in for the course was for the reading. Dr. Fainsod was the best lecturer; most of the other lectures were confused, digressive, or trivial, particularly those by Elliott.

State and Local Government is taken up in courses 9, 17, and 36. 9 is mainly on State Government, and is good as far as that goes, but often it does not go far toward the Divisional exams, 17 takes up Municipal Government which is much more valuable and interesting than State. Professor Lambie was well liked in this course. Only the first half of 9 and of 17 will be gives this year. Government 36 is a second half course covering a combination of the two previously mentioned courses. The material given was poor and the course easy. Government 17 is far the best bet of these three, and is very useful.

Government 43 is given by Dean Pound of the Law School and is especially valuable for students planning to go to that school. Government 1 is not necessary for it, and the material covered is of no particular value as far as the field itself goes. It is one of the most interesting in the field, however, and is the only course which attempts to trace the historical growth of any phase of government, covering in particular the development of common law since before the Conquest (1066). One of the four special topics for correlation with History is the History of Representative Government. But even aside from questions of the Divisional Exams, this subject has been grossly under-rated so far. This is the only illustrative course in the history of any phase of government, there is only one survey course on Economic History, and the courses in the department of History are divided entirely on geographic lines--no place is there a history of such trends as Capitalism, Socialism, Representative Government, Nationalism,--or other institutions which pop up again and again in the history of each individual country and the study of which leads to an understanding of present economic and political problems.

The courses in Comparative Politics are 8 and 10. The former is divided into separable half years, the second on Bureaucracy, Constitutional Government, and Dictatorship, and the first on Parliamentary Government and Parties. Each half year is usually given in alternate years, only the first (8b) being offered this year. 10a and 10b are both second half-year courses on the British Empire, but neither will be given this year.

Of the courses on Theory, 5 and 6 were recommended. Course 5, an analysis of the elements of political process, is alternated with 3a on the ethical implications of various forms of government, and is the better of the two. 6 is a graduate course on the History of Political Theory, and is highly praised. Concentrators advised Freshmen and Sophomores not to take any theory courses, however.

In International Relations, courses 18 and 30 on Contemporary International problems in Europe and Asia, were recommended for Sophomores or Juniors; Hopper, considered interesting but not profound, gives both. 14 on Nationalism in International Relations was also recommended, and Government 4 on International Law was called one of the best in college because of Professor Wild. It requires a good deal of work, such as writing reports, and should not be taken before Senior year. A new course in American Diplomatic History will be given this fall.


With about 40 concentrators, Anthropology is one of the smaller fields. It is complete and well-integrated and the concentrators are pleased with it. Because of this very concreteness it should be concentrated in only by students who are especially interested or plan to go into some related type of work later. But though it tends to be narrowing in its scope, the department includes some of the best known men of the country within that scope.

Because of the fact that the faculty is still rather small and a good coverage of the field requires many courses (there are 19 courses regularly open to Undergraduates and 11 additional graduate courses), only somewhat more than half of them are given in any one year, and the advanced courses are rotated in alternate years. Therefore it will leave a concentrator much freer in his later years if he can get Anthropology A or 1 out of the way Freshman year. (Freshmen need permission of the instructor to take them.) Otherwise he will have to do some very intricate planning to get in all the courses he wants. Though both of these courses are not required, they are worth taking.

For non-concentrators the field has nothing satisfactory to offer except course A, on the biological evolution of man from the apes. While at least the first half of Biology D is recommended for this course, it is not necessary. The lectures, by Hooton and Kluckhohn, are clear and interesting, and are illustrated with slides.

While the comparative culture of races is the subject which appeals most to men in other fields notably History, Government, and Sociology, the survey courses 1a and 1b, on the Racial Origins of the Old and New Worlds respectively, are not suited for such men. They are not complete, as given last year unless the student goes on with more advanced courses. Both Coon and Tozzer, while interesting and well-organized lecturers and an expert ethnographer and archeologist respectively, tend to talk from the point of view of their advanced courses and seem to assume the student is going on with them. The lack of a syllabus in 1a leads to confusion about what the course is supposed to cover.

As the two half year courses on Primitive Institutions and Religions, 12 and 16, are now organized, they largely duplicate Anthropology 1b, and what they add is not of much value.

Anthropology 2, an advanced course in Physical Anthropology under Professor Hooton, is especially recommended for pre-medical work. Either course A or Biology 2 are prerequisite.

The advanced courses are all good bets, but one's special field will limit the ones he can take. They are small and there is plenty of opportunity for discussion. The lecturers are all well versed in their particular fields.

At the end of Senior year there are three examinations every concentrator must pass: one on the general field of Anthropology, one on his special field, and an oral examination. The special field, as was stated, must be chosen early. The three are Physical Anthropology, for which Biology D and 2 are required; Ethnology and Social Anthropology, including outside courses in Sociology; and Ethnography and Archaeology, with which Geology 1 is allied. Graduate courses in special fields may be taken with permission and are worth looking into. 9, a course by Tozzer on the Archaeology of Central America, is an excellent course because Tozzer is one of the greatest experts on that special field.

The tutorial is designed "to guide students in their respective fields, to assist them in coordinating the knowledge derived from other courses, and to stimulate them in the reading habit." Since a review of the elementary courses is all that is necessary to pass the general exam, the tutors do not go out of their way to corral their tutees, but if approached they are ready, willing, and competent to suggest and advise.


Philosophy, a relatively small but recently growing field, is, like Sociology, Psychology, and the Fine Arts, one which offers a background for a variety of occupations. Many concentrators enter Law School, which encourages concentration in other fields besides Government. It is also recommended for teaching and for theology. But it is different from Sociology and the Fine Arts in that the student cannot benefit from it without a real understanding, which can only be acquired through much concentration. It is a rigorous field and requires more than average time.

Those who want to limit themselves to more definite aspects of Philosophy may combine it with Classics, Fine Arts, English, Sociology, History, Government, Economics, or other fields.

Candidates for a degree in Philosophy must pass three three-hour examinations: one on Systematic Philosophy, for which the concentrator chooses as his special field either Metaphysics, Ethics, or Logic, and relates it to at least one of the other two; and two on the history of Philosophy, one ancient and one modern.

Tutorial is especially valuable in this field, because there is a good deal of correlating to be done, because there is often material which needs clearing up, and because the tutors are sufficient in number and excellent in knowledge and ability. Concentrators who have the benefit of tutorial instruction find the sections in the elementary courses pretty useless, but a few such meetings are necessary for Freshmen and non-concentrators.

The best and most practical course for both Freshmen and non-concentrators is Philosophy B, on Problems of Philosophy arising in the conduct of life. However, it is rather too generously interspersed with quizzes which detract from what advantages may be derived from the sections. Either half may be taken separately, so that if a man feels submerged even after the clear lecturing of Professor Lewis, he may drop the course at midyears. Prall is an interesting lecturer but is sometimes hard to follow.

Philosophy A covers the history of Philosophy, which is a large order. Professor Demos has done an excellent job of integration, but it is naturally a pretty hurried affair. Professor Perry, an authority and scholarly lecturer, will join in conducting the course this year. It is a fundamental course for concentrators, but should not be taken Freshman year.

C is a first half year course on Types of Philosophy, such as materialism, naturalism, idealism, and mysticism, and is the least valuable of the three for concentrators, as well as the least difficult. It is intended primarily for students who wish to devote a half course or so to Philosophy, and is excellently conducted by Professor Wild, but is still not recommended for Freshmen. It is too big a jump from prep-school matter-of-factness.

Philosophy 1, on logic, is the logical course to precede most of the advance courses. It is open to Freshmen with the consent of the instructor, but is not recommended unless they are fairly sure they are going to concentrate in Philosophy and are willing to pluage into a new field without the acclimatization of course B. Although Quine lectures very swiftly the work is not hard once it is within the student's grasp.

Philosophy 5, on the Philosophy of the State, will not be given this year, but is highly recommended and should be kept in mind. The material is largely the same as in Government 6. Philosophy 6 is a good course on aesthetics for non-concentrators, although not vital for those in the field. The other advanced systematic courses are all recommended depending on the interests of the student and his special field. Course 7a is a new one by Hocking on the Philosophy of Religion. This should be a thorough course, for Hocking is not only a great philosopher, but says what he wants in a methodical and dignified fashion. The material is already covered more superficially in course 2a, a good half year course by Bixler. Courses 9 and 10, on Metaphysics and the Theory of Knowledge respectively, are both considered "good and important," 8 and 8a are recommended to Seniors only, both being in Logic. Philosophy 9a on the Philosophy of History is a detached course which should be looked into by History concentrators. The advanced courses in the history of philosophy are generally difficult and should not be taken until Junior year, except for 18 on William James and Henri Bergson, and 12 on Plato, which is excellently given by Wild and suggested for Sophomores. Other courses which were especially recommended are 11 on St. Augustine and 15 and 15a on Kant.


With some 65 concentrators last year, Psychology has been a slowly rising field. Its appeal has hitherto been due perhaps largely to its past reputation as an easy field. This is in a way misleading, however, for unless the concentrator devotes himself to the work, he will not benefit, since the nature of the subject forbids its being drilled into one's head by the application of facts.

A knowledge of Psychology is of especial value for careers in medicine, teaching, psychiatry, social work, and advertising. It is not as valuable as it might be, however, for concentrators felt that too much time was given to psycho-physics, and not enough to practical human psychology. Course 17 in Child Psychology, a new course in a much needed subject, was disappointing in that too much attention was given to pure statistics.

The beginners' course, Psychology A, has vastly improved since two years ago. It is now both an excellent introductory course to the field, and a thorough course for non-concentrators. Freshmen have pretty stiff competition from the upper classes in it, for it is not regularly open to them, and of the 228 members of the course last year, 155 were Upperclassmen. Nevertheless it should be taken during the first year by anyone who is planning to concentrate in Psychology. Upperclassmen generally take it as outsiders, and in their interest an effort has been successfully made to get away from the theoretical and academic aspects of Psychology toward the more practical phases. The first half of the course is given by Professor Boring, one of the foremost psychologists of the country, who is liked best in his graduate courses; and the second half by Allport, a clear and conscientious lecturer for beginners.

For the Divisional exams at the end of Senior year the field is divided into five special topics; the History of Psychology, Experimental, Abnormal, Comparative, and Social Psychology. In one examination the candidate for the degree will be tested on three of these topics, and in a second he will be examined on the field in general. In preparation for these examinations a considerable amount of tutorial work is desirable for integration and further study, and with the first class Faculty at Harvard, students feel they have a right to expect a reasonable amount and quality of tutorial instruction.

But the Faculty as a whole is very much involved in research and subsidized work at the Clinic, at the expense of tutoring. Until this year tutoring has been neglected, but now a new plan has been adopted for utilizing most efficiently the time and personnel which is available. All Sophomores will have bi-weekly conferences in groups of about four. Only men in the first three groups and borderline cases in Group IV will be allowed to go out for honors and Junior and Senior honors candidates will have individual tutoring. Non-honors men will meet in groups of about 25 for discussion. This plan should work out satisfactorily for the better students if some of the better-known men in the department, who have tended to be inaccessible, act as tutors.

Before going ahead with the advanced courses it should be said that if a study of the purely social aspects of Psychology is wanted. Sociology is the field. The advanced courses in Psychology, as was stated, under emphasize the personal and practical elements of the subject. There is not enough opportunity for original thought on the part of students, and exams tend to be a matter of tossing back what was tossed at them in the reading and the lectures.

The second half year course 5, which has been very good, will be given by a now man, Dr. Hurvich, and the title has been changed from Advanced to General Psychology. It will probably be concerned with physiology and be better to take toward the end of one's course.

Psychology 6a, second half year, is a good one to take after A. It deals with the behavior of animals, notably rats, and should be kept in mind for the Divisional exam. It is also interesting for non-concentrators, but course A is required for admittance. Anderson is a good physiological research man.

Course 10, Experimental Psychology and Introductory Laboratory, is also a worth while course to take early, is well taught and not hard, occupying two hours on two afternoons a week. The laboratory equipment could stand improvement, however. Stevens is a fine research man, but does not have any extra time for students in this course.

In courses 16 and 16a, on Social Psychology, Professor Allport will be aided by Professor Jenness of the University of Nebraska. The material is valuable for the special field of that title, but the course was criticized for its lack of practical application.

The course in Child Psychology, number 17 was the most notable example of not being what it was expected to be, though a course cannot shine in its first year. Barker, though a good lecturer, spends too much time on statistics. Concentrators suggested that the work of Freud be taken up.

Course 24 on Abnormal and Dynamic Psychology is generally given under the expert guidance of Professor Murray, who is now on leave. Dr. White, however, filled his place excellently last year, and will have the course again this year. It is recommended for pre-medical work, and is called the most practical course in the field.


The field of Sociology is the newest in the College, having been established in 1931. It provides an excellent theoretical framework for a wide variety of vocations including all the social sciences, and those courses which involve individual cases are suggested for pre-medical work. For teaching, research, and government work, Sociology is helpful, and it is also on an equal with Government for Law School preparation. The nature of the subject requires that most of the Undergraduate work be devoted to theory, and while there are one or two good practical courses offered in the field, anyone who is going into social work should plan to attend some graduate school.

Because of its variety of applications, Sociology is a good field in which to concentrate for one who is not sure just what his future is going to involve. The field also offers several coursed which are especially valuable to History, Government, or Economics concentrators, and may be taken by permission without one's having had Sociology A.

A Freshman who is planning to concentrate in the field, however, should take at least one half of Sociology A during his first year. He must apply in person to Professor Sorokin to take it, since the number of Freshmen allowed in the course is limited. The first half, a study of society in its structural and dynamic aspects, is a good sample of the work in the field, and is within easy grasp of anyone who has had no previous experience. It may be dropped at midyears if the student so desires. The second half, Sociology Ab, is a study of cultural and a survey of the main theories of cultural change. Sorokin, one of the foremost sociologists of the country, gives rather one-sided but interesting and sometimes startling views, and since the section men clarify and counter-balance them adequately, the lectures are well worth while. The course is highly recommended for non-concentrators.

The advanced courses will vary with the interests of the concentrator, for there are four special fields within the department. The General Examinations are given in Senior year and comprise three three-hour exams, the first a general one on theory, the second on the concentrator's special field, and the third on one of 11 correlation fields. The four special fields are Sociological Theory and Methodology; Social Structure and Institutions; Social Dynamics and Social Change; and Social Pathology and Social Policy.

Several courses were suggested as especially good, however. Sociology 3, a first half-year course on the theories of social progress, will not be given in 1938-39, but the material should be covered by every concentrator, either in this course, which will be given the following year, or the more specialized Course 1. It is recommended for History or Economics concentrators. The important material is in Zimmerman's lectures, which are sometimes hard to follow, but the reading is also interesting.

Sociology 4, second half-year, on roles, relations, and stratification's of society, given by Merton, is one of the best, with both clear lectures and interesting reading. It will enlighten anyone on his personal relation to society and is valuable for Government concentrators.

Sociology 6 offers an historical comparison of selected cultures (Primitive, Hindu, Greco-Roman, Mediaeval, and Modern European). Until now this course has occupied a full year and consisted of unrelated and digressive lectures by a number of men in the department, which was almost impossible for Parsons to connect. This year the course will be reduced to a half year and Parsons will give it all. It should be a good course.

Since Sociology 7c has been made a full course and is therefore less hurried, it has become very well liked. It is on post-war European social reforms, and is useful for Government concentrators. Here again the reading is of minor importance.

Sociology 7d, a second half-year course on modern European criminal legislation, is also very interesting and thorough, but would be more of the former if there were less emphasis on cases and dates. Timasheff is an expert in this subject, and his lectures are so thorough that the reading is almost unnecessary.

Sociology 9, second half-year, on regional sociology of the United States, is especially useful in connection with American government.

Sociology of the Family, course 13, is not difficult and especially good for non-concentrators who are interested in the subject. Associate Professor Zimmerman emphasizes the importance of the family in the social structure, but the criticism in course 3 that he is at times hard to follow applies here too.

A new course, 17, on racial relations, especially in the United States, will be given during the first half-year by Dr. Morton, and judging both by the subject and by his reputation among the concentrators, should be an excellent course.

In Sociology 21, a well-organized second half-year course dealing with sociological theories, Assistant Professor Parsons ably puts across a difficult subject, but the course should not ordinarily be taken until Senior year.

There is ample time allowed outside of the courses for reading and tutorial work in the special field, and the tutors are all good. It is a field in which reason and intelligence are stressed, not memory, and is therefore a good place for individual criticism. Moreover the subject is one which most people will be running into later in life and should undoubtedly know something about

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