Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Mansfield on Summers


Writing in the Claremont Review of Books, Spring 2006, Professor Harvey
Mansfield ruminates on the ouster of Larry Summers at Harvard. You can read
the essay here.

There is a lot to applaud in Mansfield’s piece. I particularly like these
lines: “Summers proposed a curriculum review that would result in solid
courses aimed to answer students’ needs, replacing stylish courses designed
to appeal to their whims. Such courses would require professors to teach in
their fields, but out of their specialties; no longer would they assume that
the specialized course they want to teach is just the course that students

Mansfield has put his finger on an important problem that is to be found at
many of America’s colleges and universities. Unfortunately, Summers won’t
have the opportunity to continue his project of curricular improvement at
Harvard and it’s very hard to find efforts in this direction at other


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