Courses of Instruction Updated on Web

Moral reasoning choices slim; VES and Af-Am aim to increase numbers

Timothy J. Mcginn

Memorial Hall will likely play home to Social Analysis 78, “Globalization and Its Critics.” The course will be co-taught by University President Lawrence H. Summers and Bass Professor of Government Michael J. Sandel.

Students perusing the 2004-2005 Faculty of Arts and Sciences Courses of Instruction recently made available online by the Office of the Registrar may notice several changes.

The number of Moral Reasoning classes is at a historic low point; the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies (VES) is instituting a new concentration track in film studies; and the introductory African and African American studies course will again count for Core Curriculum credit. And for the first time in four years, a government class on American electoral politics will coincide with a presidential election.

Those looking to fulfill a Moral Reasoning requirement will have slim pickings, as only five courses in that Core subject will be offered all year.

Director of the Core Susan W. Lewis said such a dearth of Moral Reasoning classes is often the rule, not an exception, though this year marks the all-time nadir in the number of offerings.

“Moral Reasoning is an area which never has as many courses as other areas because it draws on a relatively small number of faculty,” Lewis said.

Lewis added that the seven Moral Reasoning courses offered last year were the most ever.

In addition, Moral Reasoning 22, “Justice”—which, with 903 students, had the largest enrollment of any course at the College when it was offered last fall, according to the Registrar’s website— will not be offered this year.

Bass Professor of Government Michael J. Sandel, who normally teaches “Justice,” will instead introduce a new Social Analysis Core course, “Globalization and Its Critics,” taught in conjunction with University President Lawrence H. Summers. (See article, left.)

Some students expressed dissatisfaction with the limited number of offerings.

Joshua I. Rosenbloom ’05 wrote in an e-mail the only reason he would pick from the five Moral Reasoning offerings this year is that he needs to fulfill graduation requirements.

“That’s annoying about there only being five options,” Rosenbloom wrote. “I’ve asked the Core office before why there are so few, and the answer is never very satisfactory.”

Jennifer N. Green ’07 wrote in an e-mail, “Harvard needs to do a better job of offering options within the Core because I have yet to see some that interest me and am crossing my fingers that before I graduate some changes will be made.”

Despite the lack of variety this year, Alexandra D. Harwin ’07 wrote in an e-mail that she anticipated taking Moral Reasoning 54, “If There Is No God, All Is Permitted,” taught by Wolfson Professor of Jewish Studies and Harvard College Professor Jay M. Harris.

“I am very interested in the impact of religion on moral choices, and I would be equally curious to learn more about the impact of secular culture on moral behavior,” Harwin wrote.


For the first time this fall, the VES department will offer a film studies concentration track for undergraduates.