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Government Department Pledges to Revamp

By Nancy L. Rosenblum

To the editors:

We welcome the Crimson’s thoughtful challenge to the Government Department thrown out in their piece, “A New Course for Government” (editorial, Feb. 7). We understand that students may be discovering smaller concentrations outside the social sciences, and we applaud these adventures—though we continue to believe that no study is more important or more riveting than the study of politics! We believe that we have a complement of stellar teachers, second to none. Students agree—enrollments in our courses are high and growing. As your editorial points out, however, fewer students are electing Government as a concentration, a sign that we are not serving our most committed constituency as well as we should. That is a painful realization.

In response to meetings with students and self-review, the faculty is completing a wholesale curriculum reform that will usher in next year: a new advising system with two faculty dedicated full time to advising and programming, a revised sophomore tutorial program, a new set of junior research seminars, an improved system of senior thesis mentoring and advice on research funding, added “meat and potatoes” courses in all areas with faculty taught sections, more advice and support for study abroad, more regular consultation with students, and more informal student/faculty gatherings.

Our aim is not to maximize numbers of concentrators; it is to give those who want to study politics a challenging, welcoming, and intellectual home.


Cambridge, Mass.

February 8, 2008

The writer is the Chair of the Government Department at Harvard.

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