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.