Curricular Overhaul Starts Quietly, But Calm Deceives


Undergraduate education will be getting a holistic look for the first time in years this semester, as a committee of professors looks for ways to reduce the College's overall requirements.

At the same time, the Educational Policy Committee (EPC) will also provide a report to the full Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) on bolstering the language requirement.

Some possibilities for strengthening the language requirement would include adding another class requirement and/or stiffening the requirements to place out.

The group of 13 professors, which has yet to meet to discuss these topics, will have to gather information on the two subjects and write preliminary reports on both in the next four months.

"The EPC will be busy," said Jeremy R. Knowles, dean of FAS and co-chair of the committee. "The EPC will consider both the overall number and nature of required courses and the Foreign Language Requirement."

John B. Fox Jr. 59, the secretary of FAS, noted that although the preliminary reports are not required to make recommendations, they may be a compilation of views.

Part of that compilation of views could be undergraduate letters, which were solicited by Dean of Undergraduate Education William M. Todd III in the dean's annual letter to students.

Although Todd, who is also co-chair of the EPC, did not specifically mention the Faculty's aim to reduce requirements in the letter to students, "the overall number and nature of required courses," will be the EPC's focus, Knowles wrote in a fax.

While all requirements will be examined, the EPC will likely focus on areas other than the Core curriculum, which underwent a complete review last year by the Faculty Council.

The first phase of implementing the resulting changes to the Core curriculum also begins this fall, as the Core Committee works to expand the number of course offerings to the minimal requirement of six classes for each category every semester.

One of those categories, the Quantitative Reasoning Requirement, is new, but cannot be implemented until there are enough courses available, Knowles wrote.

By placing the bulk of the curricular examination within committees this semester, the Faculty has given itself a breather from the heated debates that accompanied Core reform.

However, under the public calm, the groundwork for undergraduate education at Harvard in the next millennium will be laid out by a small group of Faculty members.

That small group of Faculty has three particularly involved individuals, since they serve on both the EPC and the Core Committee: Knowles, Todd and Richard J. Tarrant, Pope professor of Latin language and literature.