Green Says Ethnic Studies Don't Fit Core

Although ethnic studies has a place in a Harvard education, it does not belong in the Core curriculum, Provost Jerry R. Green said in an interview yesterday.

While Green said he considers ethnic studies to be a legitimate discipline, he said he does not believe it warrants its own Core category.

"I don't think ethnic studies ranks on the same level as foreign cultures or science. I think foreign cultures are a different, bigger subject, that there's more there," Green said.

Green said Core divisions are meant to be broad and inclusive, while ethnic studies tends to be more specifically focused.

An alliance of minority groups called the Coalition for Diversity asked the College two weeks ago to create a new Core division for ethnic studies. The demand was one of five the group issued on a flyer titled, "The Peculiar Institution."


The coalition mobilized to protest the alleged lack of minority representation on a Junior Parents' Weekend panel.

The group also called for more faculty and curricular diversity, increased resources for minorities and an apology from Thomson Professor of Government Harvey C. Mansfield Jr. for allegedly racist remarks.

Richard Garcia '95, Raza president and spokesperson for the Coalition for Diversity, said the coalition is no longer calling for a separate ethnic studies division in the Core curriculum. Instead, Garcia said, the coalition will continue to push for a separate ethnic studies department.

"[The Core] was more of an idea thrown out to the University as one was more to incite thought," he said.

"It's time for Harvard to catch up to the rest of the universities in the United States and institute an ethnic studies department," Garcia said.

Garcia said an ethnic studies department would most likely be interdisciplinary. A concentration in ethnic studies would include required courses in many different fields--paralleling the Afro-American Studies concentration.

But Green said he does not support the creation of a separate ethnic studies department. A full-fledged concentration department, said Green, would necessitate a clearly defined and developed area of study.

"Concentrations that I have seen formed--and not formed--have been really scrutinized as to the amount of scholarship that one can actually [find] in that area," he said. "[And] it's not obvious to me that ethnic studies has defined enough boundaries."

Green said there are ways to develop ethnic studies without a Gofe division or a department Green pointed to the neurosciences as an example of a subject that is incorporated through individual courses.

"It might be very useful for students to highlight the other course that have some things of ethnic studies. That's quite different from creating a department, Green said.

Paul Martin '94, vice chair of the Academic Affairs Committee of the Harvard Foundation for Race Relations and Minority Affairs, said he supports the coalition's drive to create an ethnic studies department. But Martin said the group must first establish a foundation of qualified professors. "Right now, the AAC is concentrating on diversifying the faculty and curriculum with a longer term vision of an ethnic studies department," he said

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