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Harvard to offer course in religion

It is recommended that undergraduate students at Harvard would be compelled to take a course in religion.

india Updated: Oct 05, 2006 23:23 IST

An academic committee at Harvard University has proposed that undergraduate students be compelled to take a course in religion as part of a new set of course requirements.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal the academic committee at Harvard has distributed its findings and recommendations to the University faculty and has called for scrapping much of the current curriculum in favour of new "general education" in humanities and the sciences.

The "most striking" proposals address criticism that Harvard's liberal education fails to adequately prepare students for lives after graduation, the report said.

The proposed requirement in religion, titled "Reason and Faith", has little parallel in higher education, authors of the report said. It would address topics from personal beliefs to foreign policy to the interplay between science and religion.

The report, which calls traditional academics "profoundly secular," seeks to place Harvard's students and faculty in the centre of contemporary religious debates, according to the report.

"I think 30 years ago people would have said that religion is not something that everyone needs to know," Louis Menand, a Harvard professor and co-chairman of the committee that drafted the report has been quoted as saying. "But today, few would disagree that religion is supremely important to modern life."

Before the recommendations of the committee can go into effect the University's faculty of Arts and Sciences will consider it and the expectation is that significant changes could be made before a vote is taken on the proposals.