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Gov 146, Edward Banfield's treatment of urban problems and the second largest course in the College, spawned a counter-course last night.
Some 40 undergraduates and graduate students met in Phillips Brooks House to set up a weekly seminar that will question Banfield's approach and conclusions.
"The idea isn't simply to refute Banfield or be a truth squad," said Michael Reich, a first-year grad student in Economics and one of the organizers. "We should use his course as a starting point and discuss different ways of looking at the problems."
Some of the issues that Banfield neglects, he said, are the limitations of federal programs for helping the poor, the work that volunteers are now doing in slum areas, and black power. He proposed that the seminar invite a Roxbury mother on welfare and other speakers to learn about them.
Members were divided on whether they ought to organize the seminar around Banfield's lecture topics, but most felt it was inevitable.
"He's a good muckraker. The problem is that he's always drawing the wrong conclusions," said one of them.
Although its organizers all work in SDS's Radical Education Program, the seminar will have no ties with SDS.
Banfield said last night that he thought the seminar was a great idea. "I'm delighted to see students taking the problems of cities seriously," he said.
Banfield, who is giving the course for the second and probably the last time, has been fielding hostile questions and hisses in Sanders Theatre since last Monday, when he started setting out his own definitions of "class cultures" and the people in them.
"What I'm saying is simply a summary. It's nothing new," he said last night. "I begin to think that if I told them the world is round. I'd get opposition. But I will tell them the world is round, if the occasion arises."
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