Thursday, December 14, 2006

Harvard Won't Require Religion -- reports:

Harvard University has dropped a controversial proposal that would have required all undergraduates to study religion as part of the biggest overhaul of its curriculum in three decades, the university said on Wednesday.

Efforts to revamp Harvard's curriculum, which has been criticized for focusing too narrowly on academic topics instead of real-life issues, have been in the works for three years.

A proposal for a "reason and faith" course requirement, which would have set Harvard apart from many other secular universities and made it unique among its peers in the elite Ivy League, was made public in a preliminary report in October.

"We have removed 'reason and faith' as a distinct category," a faculty task force said in a revised report, excepts of which were obtained by Reuters.

"Courses dealing with religion -- both those examining normative reasoning in a religious context and those engaging in a descriptive examination of the roles that religion plays today and has historically played -- can be readily accommodated in other categories," it said.

This saddens me somewhat, although I acknowledge there are problems in having too many requirements, and this may have been necessary to create a manageable core curriculum.

Personally, I'd like to see non-Christians required to take a class on Christianity and Christians required to take a class on some non-Christian religion. Say what you want about whether or not America is a "Christian nation", but it is still majority Christian and an educated non-Christian not bothering to acquire some knowledge of Christianity outside of political and media talking points strikes me as about unwise as a non-Jew in Israel not bothering to go deeper into knowledge of Judaism than that whole not-eating-pork rule.
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