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McGoldrick for thinking that two or three required courses might enhance a Brown education. Certainly, her example courses would be very valuable for some first-years. However, the question at stake is whether Brown should award degrees to students who have not completed certain required coursework. The courses McGoldrick recommends - as noble as their intentions are - are not so invaluable that any student who failed to take them would not deserve to graduate from Brown. Let's consider each one individually.

McGoldrick describes her proposed interdisciplinary survey course as introducing students to a wide range of fields including history and sociology as well as an appreciation for qualitative and quantitative methods. First of all, this course is unfeasible, as the thought of condensing all of world history alone down to a semester with any kind of depth is mind-boggling. Combining such a course with introductions to a wide range of other fields will inevitably mean that this course will either oversimplify important concepts or skip them altogether. And, as I warned in my opening, such a course is not necessary for many students, especially those with very strong backgrounds in some of these fields, who will be left feeling bored and unchallenged by coursework they mostly completed in high school.

A crash course on Brown is certainly much more workable, but has deficits of its own. Just living, learning and getting involved at Brown can teach one much more about the school than a textbook. And, no one but a student who has no prior experience with the University would ever consider taking it.

But there is a logistical reason why these requirements are troubling. If they are not first-year only, then the thought of upperclassmen taking them after having spent time living at Brown and taking advanced classes is laughable. If they are only for first-years, then it would severely cut into the available course slots that some first-years have - most notably engineers, who often have six required courses freshman year, meaning that adding two more will leave them with zero electives to explore topics that actually interest them.

There is no conceivable course that will benefit everyone without exception, and mandating that students take certain courses would destroy the academic freedom and creativity that are essential parts of the New Curriculum. Instituting required courses threatens to undermine the University's values and should be avoided at all costs.

 




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