William C. Kirby, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, has announced the formation of four working groups charged with examining areas related to the review of undergraduate education at Harvard. He also announced co-chairs for each of the groups. They are expected to report the results of their work in spring 2004.
In October 2002, Kirby announced that he and Benedict Gross, dean of undergraduate education, would begin a process to review undergraduate education at Harvard. At that time, they began a campaign to solicit ideas and suggestions from faculty, students, and alumni. In November 2002, two public forums were held: “The Harvard Core Curriculum: History and Practice” and “Curricular Options and Opportunities: Views From Outside Cambridge.” The four working groups are the next step in the undergraduate education review process.
In developing the working groups, Gross said, “We looked for faculty with a wide range of intellectual backgrounds and research interests, who were all strongly committed to undergraduate education.”
The groups and their co-chairs are as follows:
- Overall Academic Experience: This group will focus on the broad framework of the curriculum and will consider such topics as the freshman year, the timing of concentration choice, advising, study abroad, and the relation between academic and extracurricular activities. Co-chairs: Jay Harris (Near Eastern languages and civilizations), Lisa Martin (government).
- Pedagogy: This group will focus on how we teach. It will consider such topics as the effectiveness of courses given in lectures and sections, as well as freshman and other seminars; the role of tutorials; the extent to which there should be progression in the curriculum, leading perhaps to a capstone experience; how we teach writing and encourage the study of foreign languages; the role of reading period; and the uses of the Internet. Co-chairs: Lizabeth Cohen (history), Richard Losick (molecular and cellular biology).
- General Education: This group will focus on the mechanisms by which we ensure that students get a broad education appropriate to the 21st century. It will consider how much of the curriculum should be devoted to general education, and what form this portion of the curriculum should take. Finally, it will consider the question of how we ensure that appropriate courses will be offered. Co-chairs: Peter Bol (East Asian languages and civilizations), Eric Jacobsen (chemistry and chemical biology).
- Concentration: This group will start from the question of what is the purpose of having a concentration in the undergraduate curriculum. From there it will consider the appropriate array of concentration options, their relation to departments and interdisciplinary committees, and how concentrations should be structured. This will include questions about joint concentrations, minors, and certificates. Co-chairs: Lawrence Katz (economics), Diana Sorensen (Romance languages and literatures).