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Last week, Dean of the Graduate School of Education James E. Ryan announced that students from the College will now be able to graduate with a secondary field in Educational Studies. Students will be afforded the opportunity to count courses from both the Graduate School of Education and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences towards this degree, representing a one-of-a-kind collaboration between the College and one of Harvard’s graduate schools. We strongly commend this innovative and much-needed new secondary and the many students and faculty members who advocated for it.
Contributing to the field of education is one of the most fundamental ways to effect change. Ensuring that every child has access to a quality education is one of the most potent ways to promote social mobility and combat historical injustices. We believe that this new secondary concentration perfectly aligns with the mission of Harvard College: to educate the citizens and citizen-leaders for our society. Allowing undergraduates to formally study education empowers students to further this mission beyond Harvard’s campus.
We believe that the College should do more to create spaces for students interested in education. Currently, many students take circuitous routes into the field, often either declaring Social Studies with a focus field relating to education or taking up a related social science field such as Psychology, African American Studies, or Sociology. Additionally, many students pursue education through their extracurricular commitments, tutoring students in the Greater Boston area. The Educational Studies secondary will allow these students to bring their passion into the classroom while also creating a formal community of individuals who share that passion.
Furthermore, this move by Harvard legitimizes education as a complex and theoretical discipline that is able to fit into the College’s liberal arts mission. We appreciate the College’s effort to view education through this lens rather than from a pre-professional one. Subtopics within education are many and varied, ranging from matters of public policy to ethical deliberations. Given this, we would hope that the College would not allow courses from the Graduate School of Education that are explicitly pre-professional to count towards the secondary, and that instead, the focus of the secondary will be on expanding the course offerings at the College that touch on education. Not only will this enrich the diverse of classes offered for the student body, but it will also decrease undergraduates’ reliance on the Graduate School of Education by providing an infrastructure at the College for students pursuing an Educational Studies secondary.
We applaud the student and faculty activists who have worked for decades towards this development. Katherine K. Merseth, a senior lecturer at the Graduate School of Education, whose popular General Education course United States in the World 35: "Dilemmas of Equity and Excellence in American K-12 Education" is one of the few education-related courses offered at the College, played a significant role in this effort, as did the Undergraduate Council and many other students. We are glad that they have persevered, and so too will be future generations of Harvard students. Furthermore, we hope this will set a precedent for the creation of other fields of study that have long been advocated for by the student body. Students are hungry to learn about learning, and we are grateful that their interest has finally been met.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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