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Faculty Council Disscuses Gen Ed Legislation, Jazz Music Program

By Melissa C. Rodman, Crimson Staff Writer

Members of the Faculty Council on Wednesday heard proposals on new General Education legislation and a joint jazz program between Harvard and the Berklee College of Music, topics that will be presented at the faculty’s first meeting of the semester next week.

The council, which is the highest elected body in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, also discussed concussions among athletes and support for faculty research, according to Alison F. Johnson, a member of the council. Specifically, the council discussed research funding, according to the Harvard Gazette.

The proposal to create a joint Harvard-Berklee jazz program—which first came before the group at a meeting held last month—would parallel an existing collaboration between Harvard and the New England Conservatory, according to senior lecturer on Mathematics Paul Bamberg, a Faculty Council member. Members of FAS are scheduled to review the proposal next week.

The Harvard-NEC program currently allows students to receive both a Bachelor of Arts at the College and a Master of Music at NEC over the course of five years. The Harvard-Berklee program would enable students to pursue jazz music at both schools.

“There was a general feeling that this was a good idea,” Bamberg said.

The Council also discussed legislation for a revamped Gen Ed program, which comes in the wake of a review that deemed the current curriculum “failing on a variety of fronts.” A committee was convened in 2014 to conduct a five-year review of the program, and over the course of 18 months they met with students and faculty to hear their opinions about the program.

Bamberg said the proposed legislation “is the obvious implementation” of a final proposal for the Gen Ed program, which Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris sent via email to all undergraduates earlier this month.

“There’s nothing secret about it, and there’s nothing stunning about it either,” Bamberg said.

The proposed program would require students to take four Gen Ed courses in revised categories—Aesthetics, Culture, Interpretation; Histories, Societies, Individuals; Science and Technology in Society; and Ethics and Civics—and to fulfill a distribution requirement across the FAS divisions and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The final report also proposed a quantitative course requirement for undergraduates, emphasizing that students should know mathematical, statistical, and computational methods.

Bamberg added that the proposed legislation does not indicate the year in which the new requirements will roll out. The proposed legislation also does not outline how students under the current Gen Ed program would transition to the new system, Bamberg said.

Faculty are likely to vote on a new Gen Ed program this spring. FAS Dean Michael D. Smith said last month he expects “it would be difficult” to implement the program next fall.

—Staff writer Melissa C. Rodman can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @melissa_rodman.

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