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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. Criticlame will be welcome If



Concentration in Biology as preparation for a medical career is not as universal now as it used to be. Different medical schools, of course, have diffeent methods of admittance, but it is probably true that most schools encourage previous training in some non-scientific or at least non-biological field. The Harvard Medical School in particular does so, and it does not give precedence to those who have gone out for honors in this field, for it gives them too limited a background. There will be little enough chance to get a social and cultural background in medical school, so one might just as well get it now, when only four or five courses are required for admittance to medical school anyway. On the other hand Biology offers a scientific picture of humanity for men who are interested but do not plan medical work.

It must be realized that concentration in Biology, as in Chemistry, means devotion to Biology, and little or no time left for extended study in other fields or extracurricular activities. The laboratory work will take at least four afternoons a week, and the evenings will generally be taken up preparing notes on the lab work or preparing for one of the frequent quizzes which dot the field. On the whole this had led pre-med students to other fields, and the number of concentrators has dropped slightly to about 93 last year.

On the other hand the Biology department at Harvard is one of the best. It is better off financially than most, there are many outside institutions, such as the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Gray Herbarium, the Arnold Arboretum, the Botanical Museum, and the Harvard Forest, to mention only a few, connected with the department of Biology. The Biological Laboratory has excellent facilities, and there is an adequate library devoted to the department. Lastly the Faculty is large and brilliant.

There is no division within the field, and a review of the main courses is sufficient to pass the general exam which must be taken by all concentrators at the end of Senior year. Therefore the demand for tutorial is not great except to correlate zoology and botany, but it is greater than the supply, for the tutors, though numerous, do not appear to have much time to spend on their tutees. Stier and Renn took more time in tutoring than others, and both were highly recommended. Unfortunately even the desire of the student for further independent study is dampened by the frequent tests in courses.

One course in Physics, probably course C, and ine in Chemistry are required. Chemistry 2 is especially valuable but cannot ordinarily be taken without previous experience in Chemistry. Anthropology A, on the biological evolution of man from the ape is suggested for an allied course. A reading knowledge of French and German is advisable. Either Physics or Chemistry should be taken Freshman year with Biology D and the other the next year.

Biology D is a very good elementary course, under the able leadership of Professor Hisaw, who lectures excellently in the second half year on zoology. Darrah was a new man last year on botany in the first half year, is still a little cautions but rapidly improving and helpful to the individual. He soon ought to put botany on the high plane Hisaw has reached in zoology. This course is recommended for non-concentrators as well.

Two courses are required for concentration from among 1, 2, and 3, and two more advanced courses.

Biology 1 is the fundamental course in Botany. Fine lectures by Weston and individual aid from Wetmore make the course a success. It was claimed that too much atention was given to drawing ability and that the lab work was not counted strongly enough. This course has been weak in enrollment, mostly because until recently Botany has been neglected in course D.

Biology 2 is on the Comparative Anatomy and Evolution of Vertebrates, is vital for pre-medical work and should be taken early. Professor Romer will have complete charge this year since Rand is retiring. Perhaps not se good as Rand, Romer is however an interesting and thorough though sometimes hard-to-follow lecturer. The laboratory outline was critized as being vague and inconsistent with the lectures.

Biology 3, Physiology, is valuable especially for the 'lag technique. For honors candidates it suggests much in the way of research, but should not be taken until Junior year. The lecturers, Redfield, Stier, and Wald, are all first rate.

Besides 2 and 3, course 25, on Animal Embryology, is recommended for pre-medical work. Biology 26a is a good general and cultural course on the history of the higher vertebrates and is fairly easy.

Biology 29, like 3, involves a good deal of individual research, and from that aspect is suggested to honors candidates. The subject is the Biology of the Invertebrates.

Biology 16, on Economic Botany has not been well known, but is highly recommended for concentrators in other fields such as Anthropology and Agricultural Economics. It is given by Professor Ames.


Chemistry is the largest of the scientific fields. Due to efficient organization, ample personnel, excellent laboratory facilities, and the growing importance of Chemistry in this "Chemical Age," it has rivalled Government and Engineering Sciences for the greatest proportionate increase in recent years. The number of concentrators last year was 154.

The by-products of concentration in Chemistry, such as the ability to solve problems, do not warrant concentration unless a man is sure his career is going to involve chemistry, for it takes more time than any other department and practically smothers any other interests. And even after finishing the Undergraduate course in Chemistry here a student is not prepared for industrial chemistry, but must get a Ph.D. before he can get a good job. Chemical research is a second major object of concentrating in Chemistry. Medical School is the goal of the largest part of the concentrators, for four courses: A. B, 3, and 2, satisfy the requirements of the Medical School.

The long laboratory hours, amounting to a minimum of 12 hours a week are a necessary part of the training, and those who are interested in the field realize this. Moreover the lab work is directed by very competent section men. But it was felt that opening the laboratories from 7:00 to 9:30 o'clock in the evening for individual work would not be much of a burden on the department and would allow concentrators to spend their afternoons outside of the laboratory. As it is, they close at 5:00 o'clock even in the advanced courses, and it is practically impossible to get late permission.

There is no tutorial in the field outside of the aid given during laboratory work, but many concentrators felt the need of someone to direct any voluntary reading they might want to do outside the course work. On the other hand concentrators in Chemistry take a course more that other fields without charge, and the section men are willing to give any suggestions if approached. Since there are no divisions within the field for special concentration and thus little need for correlation, and no general departmental exams, there is little need for organized tutorial.

One course in Physics is required. Physics C is the course intended for non-Physics concentrators and is the best bet. Having taken this, however, it is worth while in many cases to take Physics 1 on Atomic Physics, which is not too hard a course. No Mathematics is required, but at least Math A is necessary and Math 2 is strongly advised for research work. A revision of the three early Math courses might make it possible to cover this material in one year. Math 5 is not deemed of much value, although advised by the department.

Within the department courses are offered in inorganic, Organic, Physical, Analytical. Biological, and Industrial Chemistry. There is no administrative division along those lines, however, and concentrators must choose their advanced courses with their own interest and future only in mind.

Chemistry C is intended only for non-concentrators, a new course this year. It will be given by a new man, Dr. Boss.

Chemistry A is the beginning course, should naturally be taken Freshman year by anyone who has not had a school course and who is contemplating concentrating in Chemistry. Those Freshmen who have already had sufficient chemistry should take courses B and 3, a first and a second half-year course respectively. B is unsatisfactory on the whole--it is rather easy, the lectures are not connected with the reading, and Bartlett tends to be dull in his elementary lectures. But this year a special section will be arranged for particularly qualified men. Chemistry 3 is a second semester course on Qualitative Analysis. Professor Forbes is hard for Freshmen to follow unless they have done the reading, which is also hard to follow, but the material is valuable.

Chemistry 2, an elementary course in Organic Chemistry, thrives under the excellent lectures of Professor Fleser. Although a difficult course, it should be taken Sophomore year.

Chemistry 4 is on Quantitative Analysis. Baxter is a good lectures he is a stickler for precision. Both it and 44. a loss thorough half-year course on the same subject intended for pre-medical students and non-honors men, are centered around the lab, which takes 10 to 18 hours a week.

Chemistry 6 should require more Math or Physics than it does. The laboratory work does not follow the lectures, although Dr. Wilson is doing a good job in a difficult situation.

Chemistry 15, General Biological Chemistry, is good only for pre-medical work. There is no lab and the lectures are not well organized.

Chemistry 5 on the Carbon Compounds has built its success on the late Professor Kohler's lectures. The lab work is well run, though, and it will still be a good course.

Chemistry 11 is on Industrial Chemistry, and Chemistry A is all that is necessary for admittance, although courses 2 or 3 are required. The lectures by Professor Jones are entertaining but digressive.

The graduate courses will be found difficult for Undergraduates, but the courses are worth looking into.


Geography is a new and small field, with 22 concentrators. The subject is of little direct practical value, teaching, exploration, and cartography being about the only occupations it is of direct aid to. It is a subject, however, which can be put to any number of purposes, such as correlation with history or economics. Moreover due to the way in which the material is taught, it is a field most conducive to thought and reason on the part of the student, and in this alone it is helpful to any career. Because facts play such a small part in it, it has acquired the reputation of an easy field. You get out of it what you put in, however, and the more you put in, the more you will want to put in. Anyone who has enjoyed working with maps as a boy will be interested in this field.

Those who are concentrating in the fields of History or Economics will find much new related material in Geography 1, which is on Economic Geography, and Geography 14a on Political Geography.

Since there are so few instructors (three) within the field and consequently a limited number of courses, there is more room for tutorial work than in the field of Geology. Concentrators pointed out Soil as one subject which was under-emphasized in the courses and is done in tutorial conferences, although at present there is no course that could stand more emphasis on it. Reading which connects the field with History or Economics can also be done under the direction of the tutors.

The Divisional exams in the Senior year consist of a general exam on the field and another in one's special field, chosen from among Systematic Geography, Regional Geography, Climatology, and Physiography. The latter is also, and perhaps more closely, connected with Geology, Geology 1 being required for Geography 4a, the beginning course in Physiography. Geography 5b and 7b, the Physiography of North and South America respectively are considered better courses in Physiography from the point of view of the human geographer. Course 4a was criticized as being too technical for one in Systematic Geography which deals with its effect on humans. Bryan, who gives this course, is primarily an authority on glacial geology, outside of Physiography itself, and Geography concentrators find the course rather useless. The lack of a good textbook adds to their difficulties. But there are many facts in Physiography which are necessary for the Divisional exams and can best be obtained in a course.

Geography is prerequisite for all advanced courses in human or regional geography, and is well worth the time whether one is going on in those fields or not. The exercise which this field exerts on one's brain--one's reasoning ability rather than memory--is particuther courses in Regional Geography covers the courses in Regional Geography covers successfully and interestingly what it is supposed to. Whittlesey has a vast fund of knowledge, gives serious and well organized lectures. Kemp is amusing, widely experienced, and stimulating to individual thought.

Geographical Exploration is somewhat detached from the rest of the field, and is the most practical part of it, although limited in range. Course 31a does not accomplish very much for anyone not planning to explore some place. It is built around Professor Rice, who has had wide experience but is usually in New York and does not have much time to spend on the course. 35a, on Cartoraphy, has the widest appeal, but it is only open to concentrators in Geography and certain other scientific fields. It is well taught by Raisz.

There has been a hiatus in the meteo-ological courses, none of which are being given due to the lack of a suitable instructor. Professor Brooks of the Blue Hill Observatory only conducts graduate courses. Until some are reopened to Undergraduates a reciprocal agreement allows them to take courses at M. I. T., which are likely, however, to prove pretty technical for them.


German is a very small field, its concentrators last year numbering 16. The drop from 25 two years previously may have been due in part to the loss during the last few years of some prominent staff members, though an increase in concentrators for next year shows that changes in personnel are already doing some good.

The field requires no more work than any other language field, but the students who get the most pleasure out of their work are those with a knack for languages and a real interest in German. The Faculty is interested and the smallness of the enrollment means that there is much friendly contact between them and the students. This is a most enjoyable feature of concentration.

The emphasis is on German literature and those interested in the Philosophy of that country will find the material best covered in the Philosophy Department. The culture of Germany is ably and interestingly presented in German 1. A new professor, Dr. Snell, will come from Germany with a great reputation this fall, and should make German 1 an even more interesting survey of the literature than it has been in the past. It has not been hard.

There are two outstanding difficulties in the organization of the field. The advanced courses tend to deal with narrow parts of German culture, and, in the Sophomore year particularly, students have trouble in orienting themselves and in placing courses in the right relation to each other. The tutorial work does not meet this situation, and a "planlessness" is felt by some students when arranging their schedules. A second trouble previously encountered in making schedules is that too many of the advanced courses have been in the same examination group.

Concentrators in German must take examinations in the fall of their Junior year on the Bible, Shakespeare, and two ancient authors, and in May of their Senior year they must take a general exam on the whole field.

The elementary courses in German are are arranged the same as in French. German A is the elementary course. It was reorganized recently with a purpose of making it more interesting. It has become more so to the linguistic student who picks up the grammer easily from the reading and presumably concentrators would be in this group. But at the same time it has become more difficult for those who need a good solid grammatical foundation before they can read with profit.

Courses C and E serve students of about tile same competence. Those who have attained a grade of A or B in German A may enter the latter, which is the one ordinarily taken after passing the cp3 entrance examination. Although Lieder's lectures tend to be uninspiring, the fact that E is exclusively a reading course, while C entails considerable grammar and composition, attracts many students to the former. Mr. Hawkes has made an excellent course out of German D, taking much personal interest in the students. It is much the best one in which to learn to speak the language. German F, an "Introduction to Ger-

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