Joe "Tail Gunner" McCarthy nicknamed Harvard the "Kremlin on the Charles," but once all the midwestern farmboys arrive in Cambridge, they soon find out Harvard will train them for the Chase Manhattan Bank and not a revolutionary cadre. It is only natural that Harvard's faculty mirrors this bias. The radical graduate students and assistant professors soon leave for greener, tenured pastures--just take a look at the Cambridge refugees at the U Mass Economics Department.
Richard C. Lewontin, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biology, stands out at Harvard, not for being a brilliant biologist, but for being a radical. He teaches the infamous gut Natural Sciences 36, "Biological Determinism," which is a semester long critique of theories that assert genes are the prime determinants of behaviour and intelligence. The staff teaching Nat. Sci. 36 blatantly stated their relaxed grading policy and the University emasculated the course, offering it only on a pass/fail basis and making it unacceptable for filling the general education requirement. Lewontin also helps teach a biology course on social issues with a similar political perspective and grading policy.
Lewontin shocks a lot of people in the Government and other departments by placing a relaxed atmosphere over "academic standards" but also because of his dogged devotion to his controversial ideas. He holds his convictions so firmly that he feels little need to compromise even if his adamance reduces his effectiveness. During one lecture he said, "I disagree with the theory because it's wrong."
Whatever patience he lacks on the soapbox, Lewontin makes up for in the laboratory. Academic critics and supporters acknowledge his professional competence--something radicals always need a little more of to be tenured, in order to compensate for their political beliefs. And politics is an integral part of his scientific theories. Lewontin believes the acceptance of many racial and genetic theories by scientists reflects, in part, their own elitist and racial prejudices.
The title of Lewontin's lecture on May 17 will be "Genetic Diversity in Humans and Other Animals." This could be a boring speech if delivered by most biologist s|but|it should bring out all of the biases, brilliant insights and radical perspectives for which Lewontin is known. If you have heard him speak before, the talk will be nothing special but if you have not taken one of his courses, bring your dollar to the Geological Lecture Hall on Oxford St. at 5:30.
Reading period always means a decrease in activities and, consequently, there are not big names visiting Harvard this week. If you want to escape classroom academics by going to an academicly oriented lecture, you have some choice.
Like the Marx Brothers, the Berrigans are easy to confuse with each other. Which one is Chico, Daniel, Harpo, and Philip? One of those four toots a horn and another dislikes Israel. Philip Berrigan will speak at the Community Church at 1859 Centre St, West Roxbury at 11 a.m. Berrigan, a prominent Vietnam protester, is currently involved in the anti-nuke movement. If you are still curious about Harpo and Chico, check out the Harvard Square Theatre.
Luis Escobar will speak on "The Borrowing and External Debt of the Developing Countries" at the Center for International Affairs from 4-6 p.m. He's a economist from the World Bank, Bob MacNamara's club which, a few years ago, cut-off credit to Allende's government in Chile. Escobar should be fairly interesting as he has done some credible research in the area.
Even if you only care about the stars in People Magazine, go see George B. Field and Philip Morrison "Should We Expect External Darkness and Infinite Expansion." Field, Paine Professor of Practical Astronomy, runs the Center for Astrophysics and the Harvard College Observatory. Besides being a professor at MIT, and a noted astronomer, Morrison used to hold the patent for the nuclear bomb--honest, he worked on the Manhattan Project. They are speaking at the Cambridge Forum, 3 Church St. at 8 pm.
Do you know who Rosa Luxembourg is? If you do, a friend of mine will buy you an ice cream cone. If not, Elzbieta Ettinger-Chodakouska will enlighten you about this early 20th century orthodox marxist. Luxembourg wrote critiques of imperialism and revisionism and should be an interesting topic. The talk is scheduled for 8:00 at 10 Garden St but you have to call 495-8600 in advance for tickets.