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A contioversial decision by returning Professor of Economics Martin S. Feldstein '61 to terminate the "radical" sections of Social Analysis 10 has prompted both a report by protesting teaching fellows and a major departmental review of the move.
Five section leaders for the course this week sent a five-page statement to the members of the review committee and to the rest of the Economics Department, outlining the benefits of radical sections and protesting Feldstein's failure to consult them before cancelling the optional groups.
The report is the outgrowth of a meeting earlier this fall of most Ec 10 section leaders following the decision and is reportedly backed by the majority of those teaching fellows.
Earlier this fall. Economics Department Chairman Jerry R. Green appointed a faculty committee to review Feldstein's decision and the more general question of jurisdiction of similar disputes concerning course content.
Feldstein was out of town yesterday and unavailable for comment.
Feldstein announced at the beginning of the term that he had abolished the decade-old radical secntion, in which students study Marxist economics in addition to the regular syllabus. He and head section leader Lawrence B. Lindsey said the change would facilitate having more uniform sections for the introductory course, "Principles of Economics."
But many students and teaching fellows in the class, which has the largest enrollment in the College, protested the move, saying studetns should be allowed the chice of learning an additional perspective on mainstream economic thought.
In response to the complaints, Feld stein and Lindsey allowed the creation of a series of four optional evening lectures on radical topics, the first of whih will lake place tonight in Emerson Hall.
But many protestors claim the move is insufficient, because students are busy taking midterms and will not likely attend lectures they know are purely optional.
Using course statistics from the past several years, the report cited the fact that students in radical sections have consistently scored above the coursewide average on exams, and described in depth the organization and purpose of the sections.
Although they said they did not present any startling new facts, the authors added that they may have enlightened some on the details of the issue.
"We probably gave [some faculty] some information they wouldn't have known. People are discussing the issue all the time," said teaching fellow Daniel G. Swanson
In response to protests against the decision and charges that Feldstein made the decision unilaterally. Green last month appointed a committee of five faculty members to examine the question of jurisdiction in this and similar cases.
This is the first such review by the department since a committee 10 years ago discussed whether or not to include radical theory on the graduate-level examinations. Green said. The decision on that dispute was to include a question on Marxist economics as a choice on the optional part of the exams.
The goal of the present committee, chaired by Lamont University Professor John T. Dunlop, is to determine what the Economics Department's policy should be towards "departmental" courses, which include Social Analysis 10 (formerly Economics 10). Economics 1010 and Economics 2010.
For these courses, "the department sets the curriculum," Green said. "It sounds clear-cut, but what does it mean to set the curriculum?" he added.
"Courses are essentially the private property of the instructors. It's a rule no one would dream of violating, with a few exceptions, and Ec 10 is one of them," said Professor of Economics Stephen A. Marglin '59, one of the committee members.
The other three members are Feldstein. Abbe Professor of Economics Dale W. Jorgenson and Assistant Professor of Economics Suzanne A. Scotchmer.
Although the entire committee has not yet met formally, Dunlop has reportedly spoken with each of the other members in as attempt to sound out their views. The group hopis to have reached a conclusion before the news Economics Department meeting, slated for November 20, Green said.
One section leader who asked not to be identified said Dunlop was chosen specifically because he is a labor economist and has been a labor arbitrator, giving him useful experience is settling difficult disputely.
Dunlop did not return phone calls to his office yesterday
Although it is too late for the sections to be reinstated this year, the protestors hope the committee may recommend reversing the decision next year, although most refuse to speculate on the likelihood this may happen.
In addition to reviewing the decision on the sections, Marglin said the committee must examine other questions, such as what will be the fate of the coursewide radical unit usually taught in the spring, for which Marglin gives two of the four lectures.
Although Feldstein has not yet publicly discussed any intention to keep or erase this unit, Marglin and many other faculty and teaching fellows are concerned that he may end it without warning. "[We] would like [such a desision] not to be a fait accompli, like the radical sections," Marglin said
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