I read an amazing story yesterday by W.E.B. Du Bois. It seemed to say that man can only truly control his own life when he understands himself within the context of the world. I believe that the purpose of the Peoples and Cultures requirement is to help give Williams students this understanding.
However, many Ephs wonder if it actually serves this purpose, citing classes that teach students about one aspect of another society, but do not provide a basic and broad understanding of its culture. The requirement’s purpose needs to be more clearly stated within the Course Catalog.
Additionally, the means by which the courses are designated should be changed. Currently, the Committee on Educational Policy designates these courses by reviewing the descriptions of courses that departments recommend for Peoples and Cultures status. This means that those reviewing the recommendations generally have a very limited understanding of the classes that are approved.
If this requirement is to have any value, those who designate the courses need the assistance of the student body in making their selections. A line should be added to the course evaluation asking students whether the course should fulfill the requirement. If the question is taken seriously, it will increase the integrity of the Peoples and Cultures Requirement and improve the quality of education at Williams.