The ball of reform has started to roll among those administrative officials who compile and publish the College's catalogue of courses. It has not yet rolled far. The vote of the Faculty in January to re-number all courses according to a new, simplified system, cogent as it is, in itself is little more than a token revision. Unless further revisions are made, the usefulness of the catalogue to students will remain substantially in its present, not fully satisfactory state. Within the next few weeks the Committee on Educational Policy will receive drafts from the various departments for next year's catalogue. The departments, as well as the Committee, should take this opportunity to re-examine the contents of the catalogue's material.
To begin with, there are many courses in the catalogue about which more should be said than that they belong in this examination group, meet at that hour, and are to be given by such and such a professor. It is true that the catalogue also includes a number and a name with each course, but in many cases the name says no more about the course than does the number. "Conduct of Language" is the title of a Social Relations course to be given this spring, and it is a title that has meant everything and nothing to all who have pondered its significance. In this course, and in countless others like it spread throughout the Social Relations, Government, History, and Economics departments, a brief descriptive paragraph would make program planning much less of a haphazardous adventure that it is nowadays.
To describe every course as fully as the General Education courses are described in the present catalogue would be ideal. Space limitations make such a plan impossible, however, a fact which creates the difficulty of deciding which courses should be described and which should not. Probably the most sensible way out of this difficulty would be to describe all courses which have no prerequisite. This system would cover the bulk of "distribution" courses. And, since it is reasonable to assume that most undergraduates are familiar with their own field of concentration and are no likely to take advanced courses in other highly specialized fields, the distributions courses are the most important to describe. The system would also conserve a certain amount of space Indierously wasted at present by certain Chemistry, Biology, and even Naval Science courses, one of which involves, says the catalogue, "exercises with the Jordy Trainer and Sangame Attack Teacher."
Then there is the matter of the courses which are omitted, for example, during 1947-48, but are to be given in 1948-49. In the present catalogue, the valuable prewar practise of listing such courses has been revived. But it is equally important for the student planning his program in long-range terms to know if a certain course is to be omitted in 1948-49, although it is being given in 1947-48. This information the catalogue does not offer. Its inclusion is not so important as expansion to provide for fuller descriptions. But the two together can go a long way toward making the catalogue genuine aid to students.