Students in Harvard's largest course. Social Analysis 10, will be able to critique the course and suggest changes, thanks to a new student advisory council.
Set up by Assistant Professor of Economics Lawrence B. Lindsey, who is one of the course's two professors, the council will consist of 36 student representatives, one from each section of the course, which is also known as Ec 10.
Each section held elections for these representatives last week, and the first meeting of the council is scheduled to take place on April 25.
The purpose of the council is to give students a direct way to voice their concerns about the course, which is taught almost entirely in section, Lindsey said.
The idea for the advisory council originated with the Undergraduate council. The council's Academic committee suggested to Lindsey that he set up the council because students were concerned about the quality of teaching in Ec 10 sections, said Todd C. Flynn '88, who heads the committee.
The new council won praise from Ec 10 section leaders. It will collect student opinion more effectively than section leaders or questionnaires could, said section leader Hamish Stewart, a graduate student in Economics.
But student reactions to the council have been rather lukewarm, Stewart said. "It's late in the semester and it's just another hassle," he said. "Everyone's busy."
In most sections there was not any competition for the representative position, Lindsey said. Some sections had a hard time getting anyone to volunteer, he said. Several of the Ec 10 students contacted said they were unaware of the council's existence.
The council will discuss general complaints about the course ranging from the inconsistent quality of the section leaders to competition within the sections to the dullness of the lectures. "Students complain about everything," said Todd R. Porter, an Ec 10 section leader.
Lindsey said he was especially interested in what students would have to say about their section leaders and the unit test program.
Said Cristina R. Diaz '91, an Ec 10 student, "I would complain about the unusefulness of the green textbook." She also said, "They're very conservative... They should have more radical speakers come and talk."
Lindsey said he plans to make the council a permanent Ec 10 institution. He said it will meet once a semester next year.
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