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The Nation

Harvard proposes new focus

February 08, 2007|From the Associated Press

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. — Harvard University proposed a curriculum overhaul Wednesday to emphasize sciences, religious beliefs and world cultures.

The recommendations in a faculty committee final report come after years of internal debate over what courses should be required of all students at the nation's oldest college. The current core curriculum has been criticized for focusing on narrow academic questions rather than real-world issues.

The report calls for Harvard to require a course in "culture and belief" to introduce students to religion and ideas. It also recommends mandatory studies in analytical reasoning, ethical reasoning, physical sciences and in areas that will help students connect to other societies.

Former President Lawrence Summers made reform a priority in 2001, but the work of several committees bogged down and initial recommendations were criticized as weak.

Harvard President Derek Bok said committee members did "an excellent job of listening to their colleagues and crafting a thoughtful and coherent structure to further the aims of a strong undergraduate education."

Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which meets next week, must approve the recommendations.

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