Stanford Still Offers a Quality Education in Classical Studies

Article excerpt

"The least initial deviation from the truth," Aristotle said, "is multiplied later a thousandfold." In his July 17 Op-Ed piece, "Never too early for Adam Smith," Jeffrey Giesea deviates from the truth with disappointing consistency.

Take, for example, his claim that "Stanford has slackened its efforts to provide its students with a broad-based humanities background in recent years." On the contrary, Stanford has completed the most sweeping examination of its undergraduate curriculum in 25 years, including a two-year assessment of the teaching of humanities.

In May, the university's faculty senate voted unanimously to require first-year students to enroll in a course sequence titled Introduction to the Humanities. This interdisciplinary course for freshmen is supplemented by a second general-education requirement in the humanities, which students may satisfy by enrolling in such courses as Masterpieces of American Literature or Classical and Hellenistic Greek Art.

Mr. Giesea further asserts that "the university employs a misleadingly labeled `American Cultures' requirement, fulfilled only by courses emphasizing limited segments of American culture." This is also incorrect. The World Cultures, American Cultures and Gender Studies requirement has students choose two courses from among such offerings as History of Political Thought: Ancient, Classical and Christian Worlds and the United States in the 20th Century. …