Faculty to Vote On Altered Foreign Language Requirement at November Meeting


The Faculty of Arts and Sciences will vote on proposed changes to the wording of the College’s language requirement as detailed in the Harvard student handbook at its monthly meeting Tuesday.

Former Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris proposed the change at last month’s meeting. The new wording would eliminate the “written component” of the requirement, allowing students to instead use languages such as American Sign Language and Ancient Greek to fulfill that demand.

The proposed change would also allow students who fail to place out of the language requirement using their first set of Harvard placement test scores to retake the placement exam again after their first semester of language study. If a student wishes to take a placement exam in a language that is not offered at Harvard, the new wording in the handbook would allow the Office of Undergraduate Education to seek qualified examiners at other institutions.

The Faculty Council — the highest governing body of FAS — voted to approve the proposed changes at their last meeting, though their vote is purely advisory.


The Faculty will also hear Tuesday from FAS Registrar Michael P. Burke about a proposal to add two additional class start times to the new course schedule, which administrators implemented this semester. Under the new proposal, instructors who teach two-hour classes starting at 12 p.m. or 3 p.m. would be able to delay their course start times by 45 minutes.

The proposal is meant to address one complication inherent in the new schedule — limited time for lunch. This semester, 141 courses take place between 12 to 2:45 p.m., exactly overlaping with Harvard University Dining Services lunch hours. HUDS recently increased its open hours by 30 minutes in an attempt to give students more time to eat.

“This minor adjustment, in combination with the expanded dining hall hours, will quickly alleviate the major issue with the new schedule raised by students and faculty,” Burke wrote in a memo to the Council on Oct. 4.

Burke wrote he hopes to implement the new changes in the spring semester. One hundred and nine courses are currently scheduled to take place in the 12 to 2:45 p.m. class slot in the spring.

The Council voted unanimously to support the proposal at its last meeting. The Council’s vote is nonbinding, though, and the Faculty will likely vote on the schedule change at its next monthly meeting in December.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Comparative Literature Professor Jeffrey Schnapp will give a presentation on Curricle, a new platform meant to allow FAS members to navigate course selection and the curriculum.

—Staff writer Angela N. Fu can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @angelanfu.

—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lucyyloo22