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First, I concede Ethan Tobias' point that free choice can be a powerful psychological tool for creating positive motivation and a sense of ownership over one's education. Brown should be applauded for treating its students as mature adults. That was a significant factor in my decision to enroll here.

However, it is a mistake to dogmatically pledge allegiance to the 150-year-old ideas of Brown's fourth president. I admit that the lack of required classes is a distinguishing feature of Brown's open curriculum and that there are valid reasons to think this is a successful educational model. But Brown is an evolving institution, and we should not lock ourselves into rigid systems just for tradition's sake. We should reflect upon and critically assess whether the current curriculum is the best it could be.  

We also live in an evolving world. We should be open to amendments and periodically evaluate whether our institution is producing students equipped with the resources to make a positive contribution to society. If Brown is to be a "global university," then we must be global citizens.

Tobias is correct to point out that requiring students to take a course might reduce their interest in the subject. But there might be classes that Brown students need to take whether they want to or not - I think my suggested classes, or something like them, fit that bill. Math students may not enjoy taking every required course to fulfill their concentration, but it's still necessary that they take them. I am making a similar suggestion. In order to successfully navigate Brown and the world beyond, we need to make sure that each student is challenged in certain ways.

The courses I propose are not designed to limit students' freedom. The first course, involving the study of recent history and global society, would be designed to expand students' horizons and open their minds to the infinite number of ways their academic career can make a difference in the world. The second course, a crash course on the University, would help students see their possible trajectories at Brown, which will better prepare them to utilize the resources available.

The ability to forge our own academic path is a valuable opportunity we have as Brown students. But we need a starting point from which to depart. Before we go our separate ways, let's make sure everyone is prepared for the journey.



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