Harvard faculty, in initial vote, turns down proposal for more history

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Professors rejected a call to add more history to the proposed general education curriculum in a close vote at yesterday’s sometimes-chaotic meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Faculty members spent nearly an hour debating whether to add the word “history” to the “Culture and Belief” category of the program that could replace the Core Curriculum as early as Fall 2008. The amendment, initially backed by 65 professors, ultimately failed in an 88-68 vote...

Yesterday’s gathering provided the Faculty with its first chance to consider the general education legislation...

In a wide-ranging discussion, professors touched on both the finer points of grammar and the meaning of a liberal arts education. But the meeting was dominated by the controversial amendment put forward by Professor of History of Art and Architecture Jeffrey F. Hamburger on behalf of 64 others to rename one of the proposed categories “Culture, History, and Belief.”

“I believe to the extent that we can claim anything to be a universal category, the study of the past is one such category,” Hamburger told the Faculty. An explanatory note to his amendment argued that “it is impossible to understand culture and structures of belief” without discussing “the historical traditions that inform them.”

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