Spectrum | Sep. 3 11:19 am EST
go lions

WSJ op-ed: Columbia rules, Harvard drools

Here’s your daily dose of school pride: James Piereson, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, argues in today’s Wall Street Journal that Columbia’s focused Core Curriculum is way better than Harvard’s undergraduate program, which requires students to touch upon eight broad fields of study with names like “Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding” and “Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning.”

In contrast to Harvard’s curriculum, which will require constant revision and new justifications because it must keep pace with changing conditions, Columbia’s curriculum (and others like it) has a stable foundation because it is organized around timeless themes expressed in works that are unlikely to go out of style.

[...] In judging the two curricula, one does not face a close call. If it were a football game, Columbia would beat Harvard by several touchdowns.

Oh snap! As Piereson points out, though, Harvard usually beats us at football. Whatever.

UPDATE: Jenny Davidson, a Columbia professor who went to Harvard as an undergraduate, responds thoughtfully on her blog Light Reading to this post and to Piereson’s op-ed. Though she prefers Columbia’s Core to Harvard’s requirements, she’s no fan of any sort of core curriculum, and she didn’t love teaching Lit Hum.




  1. when was the last time we beat harvard at football? • September 3, 2010 at 1:47 pm • Reply


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    • 2003 • September 3, 2010 at 1:58 pm • Reply

      We won 16-13

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      • We won! • September 4, 2010 at 10:44 am •

        F*ckin’ A!

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  2. Asian Advantage • September 3, 2010 at 4:12 pm • Reply

    At least Columbia’s cafeterias serve hot breakfasts! Harvard’s breakfast menu is limited to only pastries and cold cereal, thanks to budget cuts.

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  3. ET • September 3, 2010 at 4:58 pm • Reply

    Superior U.*


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