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To the Faculty of Arts and Sciences: When you open your in-boxes and mail boxes this week, you will discover that the Core requires more attention and more discussion at the Faculty Council meeting on Wednesday and the Faculty meeting on Tuesday, May 6.
We would like to take this opportunity to offer our recommendation, because we are directly affected by your decisions, because we care about what classes we will have to take and because if Core reform isn't for our benefit, then you might as well not undertake the task.
Currently, the major problem with the Core is that course offerings are limited--both in number and content. Consequently, we are not always interested in the Core courses we take and they are often way too big.
It seems that you have only two options: allow departmental courses to count or expand the number of Core courses that are actually offered each semester.
If departmental courses will satisfy the Core requirement, some of us will have very little motivation to take Core classes and some of you might not want to bother teaching Core courses; in fact, the Core may fall apart. But we don't care, as long as at the end of the day every Harvard graduate is still "broadly educated" and acquainted with the "major approaches to knowledge in areas that the faculty considers indispensable to an undergraduate education." And neither should you since these are your self-stated goals.
However, if preserving tradition and retaining the different methodologies integral to each field of the Core curriculum takes precedence over all else, that is fine with us, too. You just have to remove the brackets. That is, offering one Moral Reasoning and two Historical Studies B courses this semester is pathetic, unfair and unacceptable.
We understand that Harvard professors have to be great, that it is therefore difficult to find enough to teach Core courses and all the other jazz that stands in the way of solving this problem. But for one, not all Harvard professors are great; and for two, this reasoning lends itself beautifully to the conclusion that the Core curriculum doesn't work in practice and that you should therefore find an alternative.
All we want is a wider selection of better choices. The specifics are too complicated for us lowly undergraduates, but we think you can figure this one out--after all, you are Harvard professors.
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