Make Waitlists History
Published: Friday, September 6, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 9, 2013 12:09
If you were looking to complete your history requirement in the School of Foreign Service this semester, there’s a good chance you will hit some roadblocks.
The SFS requires students to take three history classes: one introductory and two non-Western regional classes. While the introductory-level course can be satisfied by AP or IB credit, the regional histories cannot and are notoriously difficult to fulfill with classes taken abroad.
The SFS has ample reason to impose such extensive requirements in this subject, as a foundation of historical knowledge on a region or culture is essential to an education in foreign affairs. However, given the fact that these courses also serve to satisfy the College history requirement and the McDonough School of Business’ international business major, plus both the Regional and Comparative Studies major in that region and any region-specific certificate programs, demand for these far exceeds their supply. As late as Thursday night — right before the add/drop period ended and after many students had simply given up on their desired courses — nine of the 25 regional core requirements still had waitlists.
An additional problem arises when considering how many SFS students choose to specialize in a specific region. While students might easily swap one theology course with another, for example, the regional focus of the second-level histories means that for many students, there is only a single history course that is consistent with their course of study.
The problem is undoubtedly associated with the limited availability of large lecture halls on campus. No auditorium on campus seats more than the Intercultural Center auditorium whose 350 seats are in near-constant demand. Yet prescribing a strict set of courses without providing enough spaces in them for this reason puts students in an unfair bind.
Other elements of the SFS core have found remedies to this type of problem. Like history courses, introductory-level economics classes are demanded, or strongly encouraged, across schools. The solution for economics has been providing the same lecture back to back, doubling the number of available sections — a potential solution for overflowing regional courses in the SFS.
Inevitably, the add/drop period won’t yield good news for every student. Core requirements have been criticized in the past undeservedly. Yet there are requirements on the university’s part when enforcing course requirements, and some of those have been neglected.