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Committees Will Judge Review Without Vote

By Laura L. Krug, Crimson Staff Writer

The membership of the curricular review’s new committees will be finalized within a week and the committees will spend the fall reviewing the recommendations put forth in last spring’s report. But there will not likely be any voting on the recommendations, contrary to what members of the review had said.

The review is not yet at its legislative stage, said William C. Kirby, dean of the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences, because the recommendations “need reflection, they need comment, they need further refinement,” and therefore will still “have to be further honed if they are to be brought before the Faculty,”

A handful of working groups will consider the recommendations, which range from establishing a Yale-style housing system to requiring all students to take one term of a foreign language, even if they have met Harvard’s requirements before matriculating.

The committees aim to examine issues similar to those investigated by the review’s original four committees last year.

One is dedicated to fleshing out the program of Harvard College Courses, which will be non-departmental classes that can be used to fulfill the new distribution requirements.

Another will tackle the question of teaching basic science and technology, and a third committee will coordinate advising and counseling, including the possibility of assigning freshman students to upperclass Houses.

The final committee will be exclusively responsible for thinking about the much-contested proposal of a January term.

There are some existing committees that are going to take up issues raised by the report. The Educational Policy Committee will deal with shaping concentrations, the Freshman Seminar Office will work to meet the recommendation for small-group instruction and the Office for International Programs aims to meet the review’s recommendation that every student work or study abroad.

Although the groups will examine the same fundamental issues that the Concentrations, Pedagogy, General Education and Overall Academic Experience working groups did last year, they will likely be formed of a fresh pool of Faculty members and students, with little crossover.

The members of the four committees that met last year say they have not been contacted, as a body, to help with this year’s work. The steering committee, made up of the co-chairs of each one has not met this year, according to Lizabeth Cohen, Jones professor of American Studies, who added that “the committees as they were constituted last year are not meeting anymore.”

Baird Professor of Science Gary J. Feldman said, “It seems a little odd that you have one set of committees and you disband those and have a different set of committees going forward.”

Although the member lists for the new committees are not yet cemented, some members already on board are excited about the work to come.

“We want to make Harvard the best place to come to for the life sciences,” said Robert Lue, lecturer on molecular and cellular biology, who will be serving on the committee on teaching science. “This will be the first sort of curriculum that we feel will really be [interdisciplinary] so students will understand why the connections between chemistry, biology, physics, and human biology are so important.”

While Lue says he looks forward to making very concrete recommendations in his working group, Leverett Professor of Physics Gerald Gabrielse says he still expects more layers of discussion before legislation is set to go before the Faculty.

“I would feel really surprised if these things weren’t formulated as recommendations for a broader discussion. It’s important for people to be on the same page.”

—Staff writer Laura L. Krug can be reached at

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