History Dept. to Start Int'l Relations Track

Soph. Tutorial to Be Taught by Prominent Profs.

As part of an overhaul of its undergraduate curriculum, the Department of History next year will introduce an international relations track featuring two of its most prominent professors.

"We're trying to create fields which match student interest," said Professor of History James Hankins, who is the history department's head tutor. "Before we had a lot of fields that people weren't signing up for and others like American history that people were joining in droves."

The new track will feature a sophomore spring tutorial taught by Warren Professors of American History Ernest R. May and Akira Iriye.

"Iriye and May are a great combination," Hankins said. "They're a one-two punch because Iriye is the world's biggest authority on U.S.-Japanese relations and May is the basic authority on the Monroe Doctrine."

Iriye and May said yesterday their tutorial will focus on historians' approaches to war, diplomacy, nationalism and other issues. Readings will include Michael Howard's "War in European History" and the tutorial will focus on international affairs after 1700, Iriye said.


"We'll organize it around historical works about international history and the history of international relations," Iriye said. "The focus will be how historians deal with these subjects."

The tutorial is a significant shift from current sophomore tutorials, which are taught by graduate students and present the same curriculum to all history concentrators.

"We want to get faculty more involved in tutorials," Hankins said, citing the need to take advantage of the department's low 5 to 1 student-teacher ratio.

The new system will allow concentrators to choose a track during the spring of sophomore year by enrolling in a tutorial in their subfield. Both fall and spring tutorials will be taught by faculty wherever possible, Hankins said.

International relations is the first tutorial which has been matched with professors so far, Hankins said. It is therefore viewed as a test model for the new tutorial system, May said.

The department is developing a list of about adozen track options to replace the currentchoices.

"It's a major overhaul of the undergraduatehistory education program," said Lea Professor ofMedieval History Thomas N. Bisson, who is chair ofthe department.

"We had a scorched earth policy," Hankins said."We swept away the old fields and we're startingover from scratch. It's a pretty thorough reform."

The reforms seek to attract students to thehistory department, which saw its number ofconcentrators drop from 386 in 1989 to 251 in1993, before rising slightly this year.

Hankins said he expects the internationalrelations track to be popular with studentspursuing careers in foreign service.

Unlike Yale and many other universities,Harvard does not offer a distinct concentration ininternational relations.

The history department's new internationalrelations track could appeal to first-yearsconsidering the government department'sinternational relations subfield or theinternational economics track offered by theeconomics department.

May said the overlap is beneficial andadvocated a historical approach to internationalrelations.

"I think the historical approach is a betterway to address international relations thanthrough political theories," May said.

A historical approach to international affairsis beneficial for undergraduates interested inbroad historical issues, Iriye added.

"To understand the modern world it isabsolutely imperative to understand how the worldhas been shaped by war and attempts at peace," hesaid