Curriculum Study Group Releases Interim Report

Dean May has released an "interim progress report" on curriculum reform-the first major product of a project which began last December and continued throughout the summer.

The report, which was mailed to Faculty members Saturday, will be distributed in the Houses later this week, May said yesterday.

May said the report was a "detached presentation of the range of options" which he said he "would hope the Faculty would be able to discuss during the Fall term."

One of the proposals considered by the report-the establishment of a "special major" program which would allow students to devise individual fields of concentration-will be considered by the Faculty at its first meeting October 10. The proposal, originally scheduled to be considered at the last meeting of the Spring, was postponed.

The other proposals will be discussed by the Committee on Undergraduate Education before any Faculty action is taken, May said.

The study represents a mixture of recommendations made by House study groups formed last Spring and the proposals of a study group-including representatives of the 31 Harvard departments and 11 undergraduates-which met during the summer. The group held five lunch meetings and a number of smaller discussions, May said.

Noting small Faculty and student interest in the issue of curriculum reform, the report states, "This response provides persuasive evidence that most students and most faculty are satisfied, or at least not seriously dissatisfied, with the curriculum as it now stands."

The options considered by the report include:

reform of the present concentration requirements either through improved administration (including closer relations between students and tutors and earlier House assignment for freshmen), waiving the concentration requirement in special cases, increasing the number of interdepartmental majors such as Social Studies, establishing a "special concentration" option, or abolishing the concentration requirement altogether;

reform of General Education either by abolishing the Gen Ed Program and substituting a wider-ranging system of distribution requirements, reducing the number of Gen Ed courses and confining their subject matter more closely, or by instituting a "core curriculum" of basic courses which all students would be required to take-or by dropping all such requirements;

reform of grading, either by dropping letter grades from the student's transcript or by extending the pass-fail option to allow students to take more than one course in a term pass-fail or to decide at the conclusion of a course whether they want letter or pass-fail grades.


The report discusses a number of other proposals, including the establishment of an experimental college within the College and the institution of some means of evaluating the Faculty for students, and also warns that rising costs may force the curtailment of new curriculum plans and cripple the College.

"There exists a popular myth that students constitute a charge on the University and that the Faculty would be financially better off if there were no students at all. That is nonsense," it says.