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'Reason and Faith' Requirement Scrapped

No religion in revised Gen Ed proposal; Gomes calls on task force to regain 'courage'

By Lois E. Beckett and Evan H. Jacobs, Crimson Staff Writerss

The task force charged with overhauling Harvard’s Core curriculum has dropped the “reason and faith” requirement from its proposed list of general education courses.

While the proposed requirement—unveiled with the task force’s report in October—generated nationwide headlines and heated on-campus debate, it died quietly today at a meeting of the full Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Only one speaker at today’s Faculty meeting, the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, lamented the requirement’s demise.

He said that the decision to scrap the requirement was caused by “fears of Jesuits under beds and priests in every corner on the part of our learned and articulate colleagues in the room.”

“I hope you will have the courage of your original convictions,” Gomes, the Plummer professor of Christian morals and Pusey minister in Memorial Church, told the task force. “I hope the committee will recover its nerve.”

In a letter sent to the Faculty and discussed at today’s meeting, the eight-member task force wrote: “We have removed ‘reason and faith’ as a distinct category, feeling that courses dealing with religion—both those examining normative reasoning in a religious context and those engaging in a descriptive examination of the roles that religion plays today and has historically played—can be readily accommodated in other categories.”

The revised proposal includes 11 requirements:

-one course “that addresses the question of what it means to be a human being”—either through the humanities or the sciences;

-two science courses—one focusing on life science, a second focusing on physical science;

-two courses on politics, society, culture, or economics—one related to the United States, and one focusing on countries other than the U.S.;

-one course in literature, the arts, and ideas;

-one quantitative analysis course;

-one moral reasoning course;

-one course on writing and rhetoric;

-two courses in a foreign language.

-Check for updates.

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