A special Faculty committee has begun investigating what, if any, ties Harvard should form with the Cambridge Project.
The Project would use M.I.T. computers for social science research funded by the Defense Department. It has come under radical attack as an alleged aid to counter-revolutionary warfare.
The eight-man Faculty committee, chaired by Harvey Brooks, dean of Engineering and Applied Physics, met for the first time last Friday and will reconvene at 11 a.m. today. The group set up a schedule of meetings for this month at its Friday session and held a general discussion of some of the issues associated with the Project..
These issues include: the Defense Department sponsorship of the Project, the Project's possible effect on the Vietnam War, institutional grants and cooperative enterprises with other universities in general, the quality and honesty of the Project proposal, and the general accessibility of Project research.
The committee will meet Wednesday evening with the six Harvard professors serving on the Advisory Committee of the project. Six other committee meetings have been scheduled for this month.
Brooks has received four letters from Faculty members in response to his request for "thoughtful opinions" on the Project from the University community. Three of the letters were favorable to the Project, and the opposition expressed in the fourth was "based on a misunderstanding of the Project," Brooks said yesterday.
A bill limiting Defense Department- sponsored research that has passed both Houses of Congress "could have a considerable effect" on Harvard's decision about the Cambridge Project. Brooks said. The measure would forbid Defense research that does not have "a direct and apparent relationship to a specific military function or operation."
There is a strong possibility that the Defense Department could circumvent thebill, if it becomes law, by claiming that all research which it sponsors has a direct military application. But such a move, Brooks said, could work against a Harvard decision to join the Cambridge Project.
The Defense Department already has funded the five-year Project for 1969-70; the bill thus would have no immediate effect on the Project. But Brooks said that "our decision will definitely be influenced by whether this is to be the Project's only year."
The Brooks committee will report- after its investigation- to the Committee on Research Policy. This committee will then make a recommendation to the Faculty, which, in turn, will advise the Corporation on how, if at all, Harvard should be associated with the Project.
"Our discussions are still in a very tentative state," Brooks said. "We're just sorting out the issues and trying to separate facts from rumor," he added.