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11. 11. 10



I ns i de: Conc ent r a t i onsga l or e , s ophmor ea l bums , a nddi et i ng.

11.11.10 vol. xlii, no. 10 The Indy is concentrating in awesome.

President Weike Wang ‘11

Cover art by


SPECIAL Fresh Outlook 3 Special K(oncentrations) 4 5-9 Trouble Concentrating? FORUM Açaí Berry Diet 2 9 ARTS 10 Ivory Soap 11 Not So Sloppy Seconds

Vice President Whitney Lee ‘14 Presidents Emerita Patricia Florescu ‘11 Susan Zhu ‘11 Editor-in-Chief Yuying Luo ‘12 Editor-in-Chief Emerita Faith Zhang ‘11 Production Manager Miranda Shugars ‘14

Executive Editor Riva Riley ‘12

Business Manager Amanda Hernandez ‘14 Associate Business Manager Eric Wei ‘14 News and Forum Editor Arts Editor Sports Editor Design Editor

Publicity Coordinator Ezgi Bereketli ‘12 Meghan Brooks ‘14 Zena Mengesha ‘14 Brett Giblin ‘11 Alexandria Rhodes ‘14

Columnists Sam Barr ‘11 Luis Martinez ‘12

As Harvard College's weekly undergraduate newsmagazine, the Harvard Independent provides in-depth, critical coverage of issues and events of interest to the Harvard College community. The Independent has no political affiliation, instead offering diverse commentary on news, arts, sports, and student life. For publication information and general inquiries, contact President Weike Wang ( Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Yuying Luo ( Yearly mail subscriptions are available for $30, and semester-long subscriptions are available for $15. To purchase a subscription, email subscriptions@harvardindependent. com. The Harvard Independent is published weekly during the academic year, except during vacations, by The Harvard Independent, Inc., Student Organization Center at Hilles, Box 201, 59 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Copyright © 2010 by The Harvard Independent. All rights reserved.

Staff Writers Arhana Chattopadhyay ‘11 Peter Bacon ‘11 Arthur Bratolozzi ‘12 Colleen Berryessa ‘11 Sayantan Deb ‘14 Levi Dudte '11 Gary Gerbrandt ‘14 Sam Jack ‘11 Marion Liu ‘11 Hao Meng ‘11 Alfredo Montelongo ‘11 Nick Nehamas ‘11 Steven Rizoli ‘11 Marc Shi ‘14 Jim Shirey ‘11 Diana Suen ‘11 Alex Thompson ‘11 Christine Wolfe ‘14 Sanyee Yuan ‘12 Graphics, Photography, and Design Staff Chaima Bouhlel ‘11 Eva Liou ‘11 Lidiya Petrova ‘11 Schuyler Polk ‘14 2

11.11.10 • The Harvard Independent



Lessons Learned One freshman’s perspective on the first semester. By WHITNEY LEE


ith the sudden onset of cold

weather, barren trees and talk of holiday plans, it is becoming more apparent that this semester is coming to a close. For freshmen, the illusive “first semester” held the promise of freedom and fun, a promise that was quickly replaced by the reality of problem sets, labs and sections scheduled at unholy hours of the morning. At times, this semester has been an indelicate balance of studying, socializing and sleeping — of which, as the saying goes, you can only have two. Angelique Henderson ’14 says, in the words of Ec10 professor N. Gregory Mankiw, “People face tradeoffs [and] my social life has been the biggest tradeoff so far.” With exams and final problem sets looming in the upcoming weeks, it may seem as if this semester has failed to measure up to the high expectations conceived when we received our acceptance letters. Though two and a half months have passed, the same questions of “Will I pass econ?”, “How can I meet new people?” and “What should I concentrate in?” still remain. If you think you are alone in this, take comfort in the fact that people all around campus are contemplating the same questions about how this semester will turn out. If you don’t believe me, take a trip to the Bureau of Study Counsel on the day before the next LS1A exam (the BSC is a great resource, by the way), or take a moment to peruse HarvardFML. Rather than dismissing these months as a failure, a more pragmatic approach would be to use them as a learning experience. Here are some of the things I have learned: 1. Morning classes are not going to happen. When you are eagerly selecting your spring classes, realize that the rested, well-fed version of yourself making the decisions is completely The Harvard Independent • 11.11.10

disconnected with the hungry, sleepdeprived version of yourself that wants nothing more than to stay in bed come Monday morning. This feeling is magnified by a factor of ten if you live in the Union dorms or Apley Court. This concept was particularly difficult for me to grasp, coming from a high school with 6:30 AM wake-ups. I wondered, “How could I possibly sleep through a 9:00 AM class?” It’s time for a reality check — the part of you that trusts your ability to wake up is lying to you. 2. Facebook is not the answer. The time has come for a Facebook intervention. Contrary to popular belief, neither the world nor your social network will come to an end if you take some time away from Facebook. Your productivity and time management will improve and maybe you’ll even have time to grow to miss those high school friends whose profiles you keep checking. With time apart, you’ll grow to appreciate them more. 3. Less is more (in terms of activities). There are 300+ activities on campus and only one of you. They cannot all have you, plain and simple. I would suggest only joining activities that you actually have time for and enjoy (again, this is where the ability to self-assess will come in handy). Also, remember that you have four years to try different things so you don’t need to do everything at once. 4. Economics and Government are not the only two concentrations. As an extremely passionate government student, it is hard to see past the guise of the two largest concentrations on campus (together totaling roughly 40% of the

Courtesy of Wikicommons

student body) to realize that we have many wonderful departments with professors who are in a better position to give personalized attention to students. From personal observations, one such department is the Visual and Environmental Studies Department (VES) where professors are friendly and available. This is a shameless plug for the class VES 70: The Art of Film (fall) and its counterpart VES 71: Silent Cinema (spring). I highly recommend VES 70 — it is fun, interesting and counts for your Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding requirement. 5. Take care of yourself. Your mind and body will thank you. Now is the time to listen to your parents’ advice: eat better, sleep more and exercise, exercise, exercise. Angelique Henderson ’14 says, “Being a freshman has literally meant being a fresh man, or in my case, a fresh woman. As the semester has progressed, I’ve found myself letting go of so many of my old habits and creating new and more efficient ones.” Rooming with a player on the

women’s hockey team has taught me that it really can be done. I say this as my other two roommates and I operate on a primarily nocturnal schedule, complete with midnight runs to Felipe’s and all-nighters in Lamont. I suggest taking the next semester as an opportunity to improve your overall well-being and physical discipline by eating well (don’t skip breakfast), limiting caffeine and sodas, going to bed at a reasonable hour (hint: if you have to ask whether the hour is reasonable, it’s not) and exercising more often. Trust me, the benefits outweigh the sacrifices. While I cannot guarantee that your next semester will be the culmination of your college hopes and dreams, but if you keep these things in mind, the semester will definitely run more smoothly and be less stressful. So bear down, work hard and finish out strong and if you’re ever feeling down, remember that at least you don’t go to Yale. Whitney Lee ’14 (whitneylee@ college) still counts herself among the masses of planned government concentrators.



Finding the Special Part of Harvard A look into the special concentrations application process.


By SANYEE YUAN t is ironic that I ended up registering

as a Psychology concentrator last November as one of the recurring concepts that we studied in Social Psychology was cognitive dissonance. According to my trusty textbook, Thomas Gilovich, Dacher Keltner, and Richard E. Nisbett define the notion of cognitive dissonance as “the theory that inconsistencies among a person’s thoughts, sentiments, and actions create an aversive emotional state (dissonance) that leads to efforts to restore consistency.” Once I had officially declared under the Psychology department, I immediately updated my Facebook status and called my mom to tell her that I would be graduating from the same department as Natalie Portman. I glanced over my schedule and convinced myself that everyone needs to learn statistics sometime in their lives and that working in a lab would take me back to my fifth grade science project days when I tested whether or not subjects could tell the difference between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. If only I had realized that my own actions screamed of cognitive dissonance! I didn’t really want to concentrate in Psychology. One of my friends had encouraged me to look through the courses offered in different departments and find the department that offered the greatest number of interesting classes. This, she guaranteed, would point me into the right direction. I followed her words, worldly and wise junior that she was, and found a whopping six courses in the Psychology department that interested me — all of them electives. From the Psychology of Relationships to Personality Psychology to Decision4

Making, the classes that stood out to me focused on people and studying individuals, emotions and interactions. In reality, however, I wanted to study stories and the ways that they influence and resonate with people. I would much rather spend my time crafting narratives than clicking through Matlab. I just wasn’t sure which department would allow me to do exactly this. Then I took a second look at the Special Concentrations department. I had considered this during my freshman fall semester, but my academic adviser had warned against it, telling me that she thought it would prevent me from exploring

nearly discouraged me from applying at all. Requiring a thorough explanation for my proposed Plan of Study’s adequacy within a liberal arts education, a descriptive outline of the classes that I would take, an alternate plan with details about its contrast to the proposed plan and letters from multiple faculty members, I doubted my ability to explain myself coherently in the 11-plus-page form. I thought about how I just wanted to study what I wanted to study and take the classes that I was interested in taking, but doubted that this sole sentence would be articulate enough to convince the committee. So I began a whirlwind search

what else Harvard had to offer. But after three semesters of taking in what Harvard had to offer in terms of academics, I had discovered that I did not fit into any of the established concentrations. I had a broad range of interests that stemmed from my passion for storytelling, including a desire to practice public speaking, a deep-seated curiosity for rhetoric and a secret love of performing. My encounter with the daunting document that was the Special Concentrations application

for advisers and Special Concentrators my sophomore spring semester, laying down the foundation for my Special Concentration. I spent two months looking for a faculty adviser for my plan, asking for referrals from different faculty members, walking into office hours for professors whose classes I had never taken and searching individual departments’ directories for anyone with a background in media and performance studies. With each meeting and conversation, I became accustomed to sharing my

I doubted my ability to explain myself coherently in the 11-plus-page form. I thought about how I just wanted to study what I wanted to study and take the classes that I was interested in taking, but doubted that this sole sentence would be articulate enough to convince the committee.

own story out loud and articulating my deep-seated interest in studying the power and art of storytelling and I grew increasingly determined in my pursuit. I compiled and refined a course schedule that consisted of classes from dramatic arts, English, Literature, Visual & Environmental Studies and even included one from the Kennedy School of Government. Once I had a plan of classes to accompany my academic goals and interests, I felt less anxious about taking the road less traveled. If you are a sophomore or freshman who cannot see yourself fitting into any of the existing departments, I encourage you to take bits and pieces from each one to create a field that fits you. Applying for a Special Concentration is definitely a learning experience in and of itself. In the search for an adviser, I learned how to approach professors and talk freely with them. In pushing myself to write my statement of purpose and articulate my goals, I embarked on a process of self-discovery and came face-to-face with my true interests. In developing my plan of study, I found out how I would like to make an impact on the world using the skills that I cultivated in the classroom. Creating a Special Concentration was an experience that I think is essential to the underlying purpose of a liberal arts education. It is simply exciting to find yourself in uncharted territory, or, as one could say, “special” territory. Sanyee Yuan ’12 (syuan@ fas) is proud to be your only local Narrative, Rhetoric and Performance Concentrator. 11.11.10 • The Harvard Independent



Concentrations: from A to V African and African American Studies

Like most Harvard concentration, African and African American Studies will have you taking classes with the best professors in the field. What sets AAAS apart from so many of them is that our professors know our names. AAAS is one of the smallest departments that Harvard has, even rivaling Folk and Myth, with seven sophomores in last year’s tutorial. The small nature of this concentration affords each student the ability to get to know the professors. This does not mean, however, that AAAS concentrators choose from a small selection of courses or end up taking all of their classes together. By nature AAAS covers a large variety of classes. Part anthropology, part history, part literature and part social science, there is a wide range of classes and focuses to choose from. The multidisciplinary nature of AAAS ensures that each class a AAAS concentrator takes has a healthy dosage of non-concentrators. AAAS students choose between the African Studies track, which requires the study of one of over 20 languages (and the department will do its best to accommodate you if your desired language of study is not on the list), and the African American Studies track. These two realms of study are largely separate, but the department encourages a certain amount of crossover. While students are asked to consider a specific area of study, social science or humanities, within their chosen track, each student eventually ends up determining their own course of study. No thesis is required for AAAS, and honors may be achieved without it. AAAS does encourage (I’m told with generous funding) alternative theses: a program in which the student designs and carries out a project in an African community. This concentration makes a great home for prelaw students, a great balance for premeds, and a great entryway for students who wish to go into academia. Elizabeth Kuntz '11


For decades Indiana Jones and his treasure saving missions have perpetuated the idea that archaeology is an adventure. And it is – just not in the spear-throwing, Nazi-killing, last-crusading sense. There’s a lot of theory involved – an entire seminar – science and research as well. But once you get to the field, whether in Copán, Peru, or Harvard Yard, the pain is forgotten and the fun begins. If participating in a dig is not an option, you can still visit the Peabody Museum’s Annex (multiple times) where 6,000,000 artifacts from around the world are housed. The best part? You are encouraged to study them for any academic work you might have. But perhaps one of the greatest advantages of the concentration is its size. The class of 2011 has a total of 13 students. A lot of the classes are just as small, so you actually have a chance to talk to professors, and get to a first name basis with them. Archaeology is a broad discipline. We have professors who focus from the Harappa civilization to Amazon cultures and everything in between. You can study any area and any culture of the world. Copán made me fall in love with Maya iconography. For others it was glyphs. But no matter what you choose there is bound to be an expert roaming around to help you learn. There are times when it gets a bit overwhelming, but at the end of the day these might be some of the best classes you take. Lorena Lama '11

The Harvard Independent • 11.11.10

Social Anthropology

What I like most about Social Anthropology is the specific type of approach scholars in this field take. What persuaded me to pursue this concentration was the kind of research work I would have the opportunity to do, particularly, for my senior thesis. Research in Social Anthropology is a combination of theoretical analysis and fieldwork, and is highly supportive of research abroad. There is also a heavy emphasis on interviews. The discipline is also broad enough that you will be able to pursue your passion in whatever and wherever you choosel consequently, you truly develop your own project and make a contribution to the field. On the department level, since Social Anthropology is a relatively small concentration, you do have access to a wealth of resources, including individualized advising and accessibility to professors. Overall, this concentration will be great for you if you have interests in many different fields and enjoy analytical reading and writing. Linda Zhang ’12

Applied Mathematics

Applied Math is one of the most flexible and easily personalizable concentrations offered at Harvard. If you are simultaneously interested in theory and application, if you love numbers and have always been amazed by their ubiquitous nature and if you seek a better understanding of the world through a numerical process, Applied Mathematics is the right concentration for you! You can choose your field of application from options including economics, physics, and computer science; but you are also welcome to create your own field of application that can include a unique mixture of two or three concentrations. Additionally, the Applied Mathematics Department has a strong sense of belonging; it is a big family drawn together by a similar passion to apply what mathematics do to real life. Ezgi Bereketli ’12


I am currently a joint concentrator in Astrophysics and Chemistry & Physics with a possible secondary in Mathematical Sciences, a citation in Mandarin and hopefully one in Japanese as well. You must think I am crazy or that I dedicate my life to classes by locking myself up in the stacks of Widener all weekend. Actually, I study in the Dunster’s dining hall and am on YouTube and Facebook/ gmail chat more often than not. Before I get distracted, however, let me continue. I have chosen my particular path because I found that the classes I wanted to take just so happened to be the requirements for Physics, Math, Astronomy, and Chemistry. Now, instead of trying to fit in all sorts of requirements, I love what I am doing and have six amazing concentration advisors spread across four departments to help me do it. Perhaps what I love most about the courses I take at Harvard and, by extension, my concentration are the areas where they intersect. Obviously, astrophysics has the word physics in it, which also forms the basis of chemistry, all of which are applications of the mathematical language, which, in my opinion, relates in a linguistic sense to Chinese and Japanese. Yet these very different subjects overlap and support each other in much more profound, even philosophical, ways. What I love about my concentration is how all inclusive it is: my concentration is actually similar to linguistics in that I am able to discover

how the different languages of Math, Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry and for me, Mandarin and Japanese as well, relate to each other. If none of this math/science stuff ends up working out, however, look for me in the mountains of Hawaii, where I will be making connections between two very different careers: trolley tour guide and second grade teacher. Scott Kaneshiro ’12

elegant prowess. Those same faculty members also offer research positions and intricate graduate-level courses open to undergrads — as soon as they finish Chem 30, that is. Did I mention you get a beaker when you declare? Whoever said chemistry isn’t classy clearly inhaled too much pyridine. Art Bartolozzi ’12

Biomedical Engineering

My sophomore year, I was indecisive in the most extreme way. I had taken a crazy mixture of pure math, physics, chemistry, and biology courses, and I had liked almost all of them, but had no real idea of what I wanted to do with them. I was somewhat at a loss as to what concentration I should devote myself to, when I realized that every single science course I had taken so far satisfied a requirement for Chem/Phys, as did every course I was planning on taking in the year to come. Moreover, the concentration fully supported a decision to specialize in either chemistry or physics, following completion of the introductory sequence in both fields. Thus, choosing a concentration was certainly my easiest academic decision, and one that I have never regretted. The all-star advising staff includes Gregg Tucci, David Morin, and Howard Georgi, all of whom are wholeheartedly committed to their concentrators’ enjoyment of the undergraduate experience. Through my classes I have gotten to know faculty in both the chemistry and physics departments, and have formed many strong friendships with students in a broad range of concentrations. Plus, the built-in flexibility of the requirements makes it entirely feasible to change the focus of your coursework on a whim in your junior or senior year. Matt Rienzo ’11

Are you passionate about improving health care and developing devices to treat disease? Then Engineering Sciences (ES) may be for you! If your answer to the question, “Are you premed?” is (1) “yes,” or (2) “No but secretly yes!”, then stop reading and fill out the Plan of Study Tool for Biomedical Engineering (BME). But please keep in mind, BME is not just for premeds; those interested in the practice of biomedical engineering will find a solid foundation here as well. Biomedical Engineering is the newest concentration, debuting this year as an alternative to the six other life sciences concentrations and ES. Let me try to clarify the difference between BME and ES. There are two ES degrees, SB (scientiae baccalaureus) and AB (artium baccalaureus). The BME concentration awards one degree, the AB. The difference between BME and the ES Biomedical Sciences and Engineering area of specialization is that BME requires 14 courses whereas ES requires 16 courses for the AB and 20 courses for the SB. ES requires four math classes; BME only requires two math classes and a statistics class. ES requires CS 50; BME does not, although Malan’s pedagogy is useful for many of the BME classes. What the premed in you really wants to know, however, is this: in total, BME will allow you to complete eight premed requirements while earning concentration credit. BME is fun. In lab for ES 53, Quantitative Physiology as a Basis for Bioengineering, we did a cardio workout to the tune of “California Gurls.” We work on problem sets together at night, and the fun does not stop until the sun comes up. Jake Weatherly ’12


(WARNING: If Chemistry does not already make your soul sing this first metaphor might be a little hard to follow.) Consider yourself a lonely aryl halide lost in a sea of benzene (six Concentrations, six Hearts for each of them), and DUS Gregg Tucci as a palladium zero catalyst waiting to advise you towards an appropriate 1,2-concentration-ene… “ What the Heck?” you might ask, “ How could I be so quickly and easily coupled to a concentration?” The fact is, if you are asking either one of those questions, Chem is a match! The legendary organic synthesis division of the Chemistry department breaks concentrators in with a year of organic chemistry. Over the past few years, Director of Undergraduate Laboratories, Ryan Spoering, and his teaching staff have invested tremendous energy into Chem. 20 in a successful effort to appeal to those among you who loved Legos growing up. Upper level classes include one-onone tutorial-based laboratory learning environments. Spearheaded by Spoering and Professor Cynthia Friend, select lab courses engage students with current synthetic problems and theoretical analysis. The sophomore tutorial features the department’ s BAMFs (brilliant and mindful faculty) demonstrating chemistry’s

Chemistry and Physics

Chemical and Physical Biology

Chemical and Physical Biology does not roll off the tongue, but it’s still shorter than Yale’s equivalent, Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics. My favorite things about CPB are the flexibility and the people. It is a small concentration (only 41 people right now), which means you get to know most of the fellow concentrators in your year--especially those you see at 1:00 am on Physics nights and then in Chem 30 at 9:00 that same morning, and much more often after you become friends through those experiences. You are given free rein to take upper-level physics, engineering, math, MCB, or statistics classes, so you can get a solid background in a range of sciences. Even within the requirements, there is a lot of flexibility if you know how to ask for it persuasively. Since advising and tutorials are integrated with MCB, you do not receive any special attention, but most advising comes from lab mentors and favorite professors anyway. Chemical and Physical Biology is an interdisciplinary science concentration that still has plenty of room for electives and brings you in contact with awesome people. Lulu Tsao ’12


Let’s start with the bad news: if you are going to concentrate in classics, you are going to have to take some heat for the whole “dead languages” thing from friends who see no practical value in studying people who have been dead for millennia. However, once you learn to set these misguided souls straight, there is no downside to studying Classics at Harvard. To begin, consider the incredible versatility of the discipline. Sorry, Hist and Lit, but Classics is the first and best interdisciplinary concentration. Classics


Special is a field that encompasses and lays the foundations for literature, history, philosophy, religion, art, and political science, not to mention law and medicine. Whatever your area of interest, there is an excellent chance that studying it in a Greco-Roman context will prove a valuable and enriching experience. Moreover, the skills that Harvard classicists acquire — critical thinking and reading, lucid writing, and an appreciation for the cultures that underlie all of subsequent Western society — are applicable to an infinitely broad array of post-college careers. The Classics concentration also places you within a tight-knit community of professors and your fellow undergrads. It can feel like a secret society that only a few lucky people were able to find out about. With small classes, committed advisors, and unparalleled access to faculty, you will never feel like just another name on some TF’s printout. Unlike the clubs that turned Zuckerberg down, however, this one is open to anyone who walks in the door. Whether you already scan dactylic hexameter verses like a pro or aren’t even sure if you can find Greece on a map, Classics wants YOU. Charlie Bridge ’11

Computer Science

If I could say only one thing about the computer science concentration, it would be that “CS is what you make of it.” For one thing, despite common misconceptions, it is possible for CS concentrators to have friends, extracurriculars, and normal sleep schedules. The maxim applies in a more academic sense as well. While the breadth requirement mandates that you take at least three courses in different areas of CS, beyond this you are free to choose a focus or to explore a variety of fields, all of which offer exciting classes. The fairly small community is close-knit, and it is easy to develop rewarding relationships with professors and TFs, who are generally very accessible. Personally I have been surprised to find, through chance hallway encounters or unexpected e-mails, that my professors know me better than I would have thought. While most concentrators find the course load reasonable, CS is not for everyone. In particular, if your only experience is CS50, you may want to talk to current concentrators about what higher-level classes are like before making a final decision. However, if you have an interest and a talent in it, CS is where you belong. If you are not completely sure, the four-course secondary field is a great alternative option. Stefan Muller ’12

Earth and Planetary Sciences

The Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) concentration is not like other sciences at Harvard that are known for problem sets you have to stay up all night to finish, or midterms designed to weed out the unworthy. Rather, EPS courses are distinguished by their reasonable workload, small size, enthusiastic professors and the overwhelming majority of chill, down-to-earth students. However, contrary to what seems to be a widely-held belief at Harvard, having a manageable course load does not mean you are getting an inferior education, as EPS requires a solid foundation in chem, physics, and math and includes courses tailored to grad students. Furthermore, EPS is great for research as professors are always looking for undergrads to help in their labs. Often overlooked because it’s not one of the “basic sciences” like biology, chemistry or physics, EPS gives you an opportunity to apply basic science to questions about processes occuring across time and space, literally, and encompasses a wide variety of subfields. EPS is definitely an important, growing science in the modern world, as we struggle to understand the effects of human actions on the planet, how to mitigate them, and how to control


and predict the natural disasters that threaten our cities. If the description of the academics didn’t hook you, there are always our (educational) field trips to locations as diverse as the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and, this year, Hawaii. In sum, if you love science and you want to apply it to the real world, go on awesome field trips, and meet really chill people while you’re doing it, then you should check out EPS. Renata Cummins ’11

East Asian Studies

The best thing, in my opinion, about the East Asian Studies concentration is its support for study and work abroad. EAS supports language study, academic study, volunteer work, paid work and more in just about any country in Asia a student would like to go to. I personally have spent every summer of my college career abroad and I think the perspectives gained from being in a different country, interacting with a different people, are invaluable and irreplaceable. EAS will work with you to make that happen. A close second, I think, are the language courses in the EAS department. At the end of a semester, your skills are markedly better then they were at the beginning of a semester and you can feel it. Harvard has one of the best East Asian language programs in the country. You're also really free to design your own path and that has made fulfilling concentration requirements an absolute joy for me. I love my EAS courses and have actually taken more of them than I need to graduate. The student community in the EAS department is great because it's so tight-knit and so you get to know just about every other undergraduate focusing on the same country as you, and probably a few graduate students as well. While I feel that the advising can be improved, I feel like the student community is a huge asset and resource in EAS. Jackie Li ’11


Economics is the largest concentration at Harvard, with about 750 students. Harvard does not offer Business or Finance, so many people take Economics as the closest substitute. However, if you want to go into those, it is not necessary to concentrate in Economics. Even if you do choose Economics, you should look into business- or finance-related student groups. Note that you can take Accounting at MIT through cross-registration (but it won’t count for Economics credit). The Economics department has worldrenowned faculty, with a wide variety of interests. Class sizes are generally large, which means to get individualized attention from professors, you must seek it out. Fortunately, there are always walk-in advising office hours Mon-Fri 10am-4pm in Littauer 111. About three-quarters of Economics concentrators work directly after graduation, while about one quarter go to graduate school directly. Jobs include finance, consulting, business, politics, social service, teaching, etc. Graduate schools include law, business, public policy, and economics. Alice Ding ’11

Engineering Sciences, AB

For Engineering Sciences concentrators, sophomore year is when you begin learning how to think like an engineer – this means thinking from the viewpoint of making things work, and not just understanding how they work. It can be a challenging transition, even for students with strong backgrounds in science because professors begin testing your understanding of systems (physiological, electrical, mechanical, etc.) through asking you to explain what happens when a given system is perturbed. However, this emphasis on functionality is incredibly useful for any research, and developing this skill is an important milestone in your initiation as an engineering student. Sophomores concentrating in ES don’t have much freedom when picking

classes. Most sophomores use the year to complete two semesters of physics and an introductory ES class. Meeting the fairly strict pre-requisites of the ES concentration while following other academic goals (such as being pre-med) can result in being in class and section for over 30 hours a week and not returning to your room each weeknight until 11 PM, only to be greeted by the pset that’s due in the morning. My advice is to reaffirm your priorities and do what you think is most important for having a successful semester. Finally, it’s helpful to realize that the students sitting next to you in your sophomore engineering classes are the same students you will be seeing several times a week, and often at odd hours, until you graduate. With this in mind, becoming friends with this cohort is a good idea – especially because group projects are very common in more advanced ES classes. George Huang ’12

Engineering Sciences, SB

Engineering at Harvard may not be the most well-known concentration at the moment, but it’s definitely up-and-coming! It has the benefits of a small department – small classes, time to speak with professors, a close-knit student community – and is set in a very dynamic environment. There are many exciting student projects associated with the department, from making soccer-playing robots (Robocup) to working with a company to generate power from ocean currents (Hydrovolts) to applications in international development (Engineers without Borders), and there are facilities available for you to pursue your own personal projects. Lots of classes also end with a final team design project or competition, where you get to have fun and make something. While problem sets and lab reports are no mean feat, the people struggling next to you are likely people you’ve been working with for the past couple of semesters, and we all know the wonders of bonding over difficulties. Harvard College Engineering Society, a student group, also works to strengthen the student community; they facilitate and back many student projects and make it easier for the student body to communicate with the SEAS administration. There are a lot of great people and great ideas in the department, and it is the place to be to make things happen. Julie Xie ’12


Like a lot of frantic sophomores, I had a lot of stereotyping, trivializing, and unflattering ideas about different concentrations. They weren't illegitimate, but they also weren't fair. Of English I thought, what useful skills can it give me? Wouldn't it be better as a companion to another concentration, a secondary field? Would it be too self-indulgent of me? Isn't it a hugely privileged gesture to spend a formidable amount of tuition money on essentially the assisted reading of novels? These thoughts inflame a lot of English educators because it misses the point — the humanities are important. In the end, you should read, and you should definitely write, and if it's for you, then you should devote your studies to it. In writing you are told to find your writer’s voice; similarly, as a student and a person you need to find your personal voice. From English, I got everything a liberal arts and college education is supposed to give you, which was an increase in academic and personal depth. After I was pulled towards English, everything else came easily — wonderful courses, mentors, and advisers. I can't imagine myself in another department now, nor do I have any regrets. Onto the department itself: For me, small class size is the surest guarantee of quality of experience. I think incredibly highly of the tutorials, seminars, and workshops offered by English. Recently, the English department has also made a great effort to cultivate community and support for

undergraduates. It really is a prime time to join. Faculty are reaching out to students and administrators are organizing events. A recent overhaul in the requirements ensures that every student will experience the seminar-format course and have plenty of elective English courses. As someone who has benefited so much from the creative writing courses in the department, I have to say that creativity is truly an option if you choose that path. Creative writing workshops count towards your requirement, and students can also apply to write a creative thesis. I have also appreciated that several of my other courses provide creative options for completing assignments. In short, English is a concentration where, if you are genuine and engaged, you will find a home. Maria Xia ’11

Environmental Science and Public Policy

Environmental Science and Public Policy is an interdisciplinary concentration that combines a scientific understanding of the environment with the social dimensions needed to analyze public policy. Requirements are drawn from a variety of concentrations, which give you a baseline knowledge of the natural and social sciences. Concentrators are then free to specialize in a specific area of interest by taking more advanced classes, most of which count towards concentration requirements. The breadth of class choices is one of the main draws of ESPP, but it should be noted that you will be taking slightly more introductory level classes than those with a narrower focus. Required classes allow you to understand the underlying concepts of many subjects, but it is up to you to pick additional classes to develop an expertise in their area of interest. The faculty advisers offer great help in this process. The ESPP committee draws distinguished professors from a variety of fields so you will always be able to find an ESPP faculty member specializing in your specific interests. Regardless of specialization area, all concentrators develop useful analytical and policy design skills through required ESPP classes and junior tutorials. These courses specifically address relevant and often unsolved problems at the intersection of policy and science. Some of these topics may even lead to a more in-depth thesis, should you choose to write one. A degree in ESPP allows you to keep your options open after graduation. The analytical skills you cultivate will prove useful in many fields, not just the environmental sciences. Graduates have gone on to law, business, government fieldspecific graduation school, as well as found jobs in all areas of the private, public and non-profit sectors. Eric Lu ’12

Folklore and Mythology

Folk and Myth guarantees you at least one thing in your time at Harvard - that any time you answer the question ‘what’s your concentration?’ you will never get an uninterested or boring response. People’s faces light up and register surprise as if they now view me in a totally different light. I find the most typical is “Wow, really? I don’t think I’ve met one of you before...” as if I’m some novel creature from Pluto (RIP planet Pluto). Then of course, there is the “What are you going to do with that?” The truth is, Folk and Myth offers me the amazing opportunity to take the classes I want, while being a part of a fantastically small department that just last week had a movie night complete with barbecue and Halloween candy. Professors know my name, as well as what I’m interested in both within the concentration and out. The sophomore tutorial on fieldwork and ethnography is one of the most interesting classes I have ever taken covering topics and ideas I have found myself thinking about in all areas of life. The other concentrators are 11.11.10 • The Harvard Independent

Special wonderfully diverse, as each person has to choose a special field within folk and myth. Some other people have chosen Celtic folklore, or Russian tales, and a few years ago someone focused on folk medicine in medieval Spain. And to answer the question “What to do after this is all done?” I say that’s an excellent question, but it has very little to do with what I’ve chosen as my concentration, and everything to do with my own indecisiveness. Do you know exactly what you want to do? Is it directly correlated to what you have studied? Folk and myth is enjoyable, entertaining, and fascinating in the here and now, and if nothing else will stand out to anyone who asks. Caroline Lowe ’12

Germanic Languages and Literature

The exciting and diverse but small and close-knit community of Germanic Language and Literature concentrators and faculty views history, literature, culture, politics, and language through the unique lens of German and Scandinavian studies. In addition to obtaining a decent fluency in one or more Germanic languages, over the course of their three years in the department students can expect to emerge with an understanding of the central role played by modern Germany in international politics and economics, and the importance of Scandinavian social programs as models for other nations. They will be able to explain why Germany takes the positions it does on such issues as multiculturalism, war and peace, and the role of the European Union, and why such international organizations as the United Nations call on distinguished members from the Scandinavian countries to represent them on task forces involving matters of conscience. In addition to such broad knowledge, concentrators follow one of four equally worthy tracks: German Literature, Cultural Studies, Scandinavian Studies, or the Joint Concentration, an honors option. Department


The Government Department is a great place for social science people who have a broad range of interests (and for those who already know they have an interest in political science). The concentration does not require you to commit to very much as you can graduate with just eleven concentration courses and writing a senior thesis is optional. Meanwhile, there is a plethora of subjects to study in the department, from bloody wars to peaceful governing (or not-so-peaceful politics), the theoretical to the empirical, the domestic to the international. Concentrators get to sample the four subfields of American Politics, Political Theory, Comparative Politics and International Relations. You can even count a few courses in related fields like Sociology towards your concentration requirements. I have also found the people in the Government Department extremely helpful, and the undergraduate program is well organized. Overall, I think that studying government can really help you get a sense of how the real world works, and it’s a great concentration to spend 3 years in. Joan Xu ‘11


I have enjoyed the History concentration because of the freedom and diversity it affords. I have taken classes concerning the history of subjects as diverse as the Native Americans of the Southwestern Plains, the history and development of Ukraine and the comparative histories of France and the United States. These classes have brought me from the fall of Rome to the modern day and I am currently taking a history class that goes back to the times of pre-literate peoples. Other classes, like our tutorial, focus not on specific topics, but on the writing of different styles of history. Still others have pulled me into historiography and have forced me to ask tough questions The Harvard Independent • 11.11.10

about the different approaches to the framing of historical arguments. My edifying experiences inside the classroom have been matched by the dedication and concern of the professors and teaching staff outside of class. Professors are willing to take the time to deal with students on an individual basis and TFs are willing to spend hours helping students overcome roadblocks and improve as writers and observers. I started out in Government, but I was quickly bothered by its emphasis on argument and comparison over facts. I like details and digging deeply into a specific area of inquiry and waiting until I am able to breathe the material to make an argument. If this all sounded good to you, it might be right for you too! Cyrus Kornfeld ’12

History of Art and Architecture

History of Art and Architecture is truly a gem of a concentration. With about 20 to 25 students per year and a student faculty ratio of about 3 to 1, this small concentration prides itself on close relationships among undergraduates and faculty and one of the highest satisfaction rates of any undergraduate concentration. Aside from its world-class professors and passionate students, this department is known in particular for its sophomore excursion seminar, which teaches new concentrators about the art of a particular country before taking them on an allexpense-paid trip to see these works in the field. This unique opportunity is just one example of how this department trains its students to be enthusiastic and engaged participants in their discipline, while also building meaningful and supportive relationships with their peers and their professors. In addition to the excursion seminar, sophomore students dabble in introductory courses and begin to focus on a particular field, while also taking a topical tutorial. In the junior year, students delve into upper-level lecture courses and seminars, as well as a faculty tutorial with between one and three students and a tutorial on art historical methods. As seniors, students probe deeper into their more developed interests as art historians, and some elect to write an honors thesis. Amelia Muller ’11

History and Literature

History and Literature, the oldest concentration at Harvard and iis considered an honors-only concentration: tutorials span three years, and all concentrators must complete an oral exam and a thesis prior to graduation. Sophomores must also complete an application and interview before they are admitted into the concentration and I've really enjoyed being a Hist. and Lit. concentrator. Hist. and Lit. appealed to me because it seemed so all-encompassing... and it is. The concentration is interdisciplinary: concentrators select courses from departments such as English, History, HAA, Liiterature, Religion, Government, Sociology, VES, WGS for concentration credit. The concentration also allows great flexibility for self-directed study. My junior tutorial for instance pairs three students with one tutor. We design our own syllabus and choose our own paper topics. That claustrophobic feeling you get when you're in a giant lecture hall and the material doesn't interest you doesn't happen in Hist. and Lit. Hist and Lit. is really anything you'd like it to be. Concentrators have six fields to choose from: America, Latin America, Postcolonial studies, Modern Europe, Early Modern Europe, and Medieval Europe and meet a foreign literature requirement, but within these guidelines there is enormous space for exploration. Furthermore, there are many opportunities for original research within the tutorial setting: concentrators produce sophomore papers, junior papers, and senior theses—all of which are the

products of original research. When Barrett Wendell created the concentration in 1906, he wanted a course of study in which everything would be related, and while Hist. and Lit. as a concentration has changed significantly over the years, this much remains true. Mengruo Yang ’12

History and Science

History. And science. How can two seemingly polar opposite fields of study combine to make for one of the most rewarding and thought-provoking concentrations at Harvard? Simple — by giving concentrators a lot of flexibility to choose their own field of specialization, offering unique courses and friendly professors, and arming students with the skill to think critically, research and eventually make their own original contributions to the field. History and science isn’t for the wishy-washy — it’s for students with a passion to learn not just “real” science, but also the history of science, how science interacts with society, the philosophy behind how science thinks and what it all means for us future scientists. A very tight-knit but ever-expanding department, the concentration offers two tracks of study: “History of Science” and “Science and Society,” which also includes a special sub-track called “Medicine and Society” that allows students to fulfill several pre-medical requirements. Students can focus their studies on any field of science that one can imagine from waterfowl migration to lithium in modern psychiatry to using music as therapy. Our professors encourage examining what science means outside of its familiar definitions. History and science is composed of students with such a diverse palette of interests, a frequent catalyst of many spirited and edifying discussions. Helen Yang ’12

Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology

I was originally attracted to the Human Development and Regenerative Biology (HDRB) concentration because the field holds great potential for revolutionizing medicine. What I really like about the concentration is that here at Harvard the courses are not only focused on training you to think like scientists, but there are multiple opportunities to take part in hands-on experiences to specifically exercise such skill. For example, last semester I enrolled in SCRB 165—a course dealing with directed differentiation of stem cells—in which we were able to run experiments in the lab within the classroom setting. The class was only comprised of about 16 students so we not only had ample resources at our disposal, but we received keen attention and support from the professor (Chad Cowan) and the Teaching Fellows throughout the semester. The setup for the class was very effective in that, once a week, we had lecture during which the professor provided background information regarding topics related to stem cells and regenerative medicine. Using that information, another day of the week we’d spend our time in lab applying what we had learned in class to experiments. The class truly did provide a fulfilling experience, especially for those who had not engaged in research prior to enrollment in the class. Neda Shahriari ’12

Human Evolutionary Biology

Human Evolutionary Biology is a lot more than just Charles Darwin and skeletons (though you will learn a lot about both!). HEB, as it is commonly called, asks one essential question: why are humans the way they are? In your time studying HEB, you’ll attempt to answer this question in a myriad of ways, by studying topics such as evolutionary genetics, anatomy, and ecology in classes such as Hormones and Behavior, The Biology of Aging, The Evolution of Technology, and Teeth (yes, you can take an entire semester-long


course just on teeth!). HEB challenges you to think about human biology in a very holistic manner. Not only will you learn, for instance, the biomechanical processes involved in running, but you’ll be challenged to consider why these processes evolved in the way that they did. On a more logistical note, be prepared to read (sometimes lengthy) scientific papers, as this is a consistently growing and changing field with new and exciting research that sometimes hasn’t yet made it into the textbooks. Coursework can vary widely between classes, but you’ll typically see things like response papers, research papers, and lab reports, while problem sets are not very common, as courses are often more analytical than quantitative in nature. So, if you’re passionate about learning more about why we are the way we are, or even just curious, I highly recommend considering Human Evolutionary Biology as your concentration! Sarah Littlehale ’11


I love being a Linguistics concentrator here because the department is so small. It’s easy to get to know professors and grad students. Linguistics is divided into multiple sub-fields so I’ve taken a little syntax, a little semantics and historical and phonology classes. The divisions are also non-competitive, a phrase I wouldn’t normally associate with Harvard. From a personal standpoint, I feel very at home in the department — it’s wonderful to walk inside the department and look forward to running into a grad student or professor. Sarah Bakst ’11


On its website, Literature characterizes itself as being “designed to meet the needs of students interested in the study of literature, literary and cultural theory, and other forms of representation in more than one culture or language”. In essence, if you can characterize it as a form of text and can read it in another language, you can study anything you want in this concentration. It’s a much smaller concentration than many of the other humanities concentrations, but there’s a lot of personal attention for the fifteen or so undergrads who study it each year. Because every concentrator studies the literature of another language, there is a huge mix of ideas, languages studied and theoretical interests, which makes for wonderful conversations. There’s also a one-on-one tutorial for both semesters of junior year in which you work with your tutor to create your own syllabus for the year. Literature lets you work with texts of any sort — books, films, music — as seen through any number of lenses (theory, philosophy, history, ethnic-studies, WGS). It’s a tremendously flexible concentration both in terms of requirements and allowing its undergrads to direct their own studies. Sarah Rosenberg-Wohl ’12


Although I have taken some challenging math courses that have kept me up late at night, the solidarity between the students and the professors’ enthusiasm to teach have definitely made concentrating in math worthwhile. Classes vary in difficulty, but the professors always encourage class participation and are happy to answer questions or talk about more general topics in office hours. They are approachable and accessible. The coursework required may be greater than for some other concentrations, but if you are interested in the subject and you like rigorous proofs, the work is rewarding. Moreover, it is easy to find people to work with because you usually know many students in the class due to the relatively small class sizes. The math department also offers various lectures and weekly “math tables” in Mather house and emails you about internship or research partnership opportunities. Sophie Legros ’12


Special Molecular and Cellular Biology

Like many other concentrators, I had pretty much decided to concentrate in MCB even before I had even stepped foot in Wigglesworth because I wanted to learn more about the cellular processes underlying life. I quickly learned, however, that MCB was more than just interesting trivia about cells. Having been warned about the inevitable pain that awaited me organic chemistry, I initially dreaded the Chem17/27 requirement. But those classes actually encouraged me to explore the interface between chemistry and biology. When I arrived at the med school vs. grad school fork in the road, my interest in using small molecules to study diseases pretty made the decision for me. From Professor Lue’s awe-inspiring Life of the Cell animation on the first day of LS1A to troubleshooting western blots for my thesis, my concentration advisors have always been there and I can’t imagine my Harvard experience without MCB. The department’s support staff is also especially helpful. The wide array of interesting upper level classes from mitosis and cancer to the pharmacology of disease offers a plethora of exciting options for looking into the mechanisms of life. Flora Luo ’11


I had been playing the piano and violin since age six, but I never imagined attending a conservatory or concentrating in Music. Performing and competing was not fulfilling enough at the time, and I wanted to have a more well-rounded education. After trying Chemistry and History and Science, I took a music class as an elective, and was immediately intrigued by that little building behind the Science Center that no one realizes is the Music Department. I realized that despite my extensive performance background, my music professor still had so much to teach me about concepts and composers that I did not know existed. The music concentration is, after all, not centered on performance, but on musicology — the scholarly study of music theory and history. I began to see how, if music was a constantly moving entity, it spun differently in every generational cycle throughout history--affected by social class arrangements, political affiliations, cultural movements, and technological innovations. My classwork, which mainly consisted of compositional exercises and various forms of analytical papers, was challenging, but surprisingly rewarding. Also, in my science lectures, I had thought I was not bothered by lectures with hundreds of students, but let's face it, being in a classroom with twenty people makes you feel like a real person rather than a number. Finally, the professors, more than anything, are incredibly friendly, funny, and knowledgeable. My music concentration allows me to exercise my analytical skills and creativity, not unlike other humanities concentrations, and as for a job, I'm not worried... we humanities concentrators will always have consulting. Hanna Choi ’12

Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Although it is a small concentration, there is a number of different tracks within Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations including Modern Middle Eastern Studies, Jewish Studies, Iranian Studies, Turkish Studies and Near Eastern Archeology. In-depth study of a language of the region is required as part of the concentration and the various language programs in the department are very strong. My own experience as a student of Arabic has been wonderful — the teachers are incredible in their commitment to both their students and the language. In general, I have found the faculty in the department accessible and helpful, even though there is relatively little unsolicited guidance. The course offerings are great and there is also a wealth of related classes offered through


other departments. Joint concentrations with another related concentration such as Sanskrit and Indian Studies is also possible, but it does require a senior thesis. Furthermore, there is a great sense of community among the small group of concentrators in each year. Harvard also boasts excellent textual resources for the study of the region, ranging from Sumerian cuneiform tablets over Medieval manuscripts to contemporary academic works. Nicolas Roth ’11


The Neurobiology concentration provides a great opportunity to learn more about why people behave the way they do. From taking both Psychology 1 and Molecular Cellular Biology 80 (which are introduction courses and both count for concentration credit), I was able to garner a general overview about the brain from a behavioral and molecular perspective. Delving further into the Neurobiology concentration allowed me to begin answering questions about how atoms and molecules, which form the basic makeup of the entire world, cause such macro-changes in humans. Since the Neurobiology field is a mysterious but rapidly-advancing field, there are a variety of courses that can count for Neurobiology credit. As I was interested in the molecular aspects of Neurobiology after MCB 80 sparked my interest, I decided to take MCB 115. This is a great course to learn more about the specific molecules that flow in and out of certain cells as an action potential is propagated down the axon. Since I am also pre-med and I am interested in diseases related with Neurobiology, I also took the Interactive Case-Based Online Network (ICON) Neurobiology tutorial. This class allowed me to work with a group of students to diagnose patient cases and propose treatments. Furthermore, MCB 105 is a course to take if you are interested about the neurobiology in the body, but not exactly from a molecular perspective. Neurobiology truly provides an opportunity to break down complex actions occurring throughout the body into simple processes that have no doubt been tested by nature and time.With such a variety of courses, I am very excited to be able to call myself a Neurobio concentrator. Yingna Liu ’12

Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

Advised by celebrity lecturer Andrew Berry, who you may recognize from last year’s Harvard Thinks Big, concentrators in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology investigate the functions, evolution and interactions of organisms from both molecular and ecological perspectives. Concentration courses range from OEB 10: Foundations of Biological Diversity to OEB 139: Evolution of the Vertebrates (5.0 Cue scores, anyone?) and cover everything in between. Even classes in applied math, chemistry, physics, statistics, and computer science count towards the extremely manageable 13 required halfcourses. If you’re looking into OEB, make sure you keep a spring break or two free! Several courses in invertebrate biology, plant systematics, and bird diversity include tropical retreats to exotic locations as far as the Caribbean, Dominican Republic and Brazil — mainly to study local wildlife, though some relaxation on the beach is permitted. The student group OEBug is constantly organizing trips to check out local wildlife at the Arnold Arboretum or Harvard Forest. Although a thesis isn’t required for graduation, research opportunities within the department are widely available and the professors are more than happy to host undergrads to their labs. Kevin Lin ’12


Here are some of the perks of concentrating in philosophy:

1) The department: because this is a small-medium sized department, the attention you get as a philosophy concentrator is incomparable. All the professors (who are by the way, some of the world’s foremost philosophers) know you by name and your advisor and the head tutor always take the time to get to know you. Everyone is very friendly and welcoming here, and once you join the department, you can really feel the sense of community and camaraderie among the concentrators, the graduate students, the faculty and the staff. The department also hosts frequent tea and pizza parties for the concentrators and the concentrators themselves even organize philosophical discussions over snacks or drinks! 2) The people: the people at the department are some of the smartest and nicest people you can find at Harvard. Everyone is very passionate about what they do (namely thinking, arguing, writing about philosophy). If there’s a philosophical puzzle or an argument that you cannot figure out, you can walk up to anyone and they’d be willing to listen to you and puzzle out the problem together with you. The people here are incredibly supportive, and they genuinely care about your development. 3) The classes: one of the reasons that I chose philosophy is the academic experience. Most of my classes average less than 40 people (my tutorials had 5 people on average) so you really get a great studentfaculty exposure. Philosophy classes are extremely rigorous and challenging and the department is very proud of the high standards that it expects of its students. But in the end, the hard work does pay off. After all the reading, logical reasoning and writing training we get, all of us are well-equipped to critique any arguments thrown at us. These skills are also highly desired by financial services employers and law schools so studying philosophy doesn’t mean that you can’t find a job after college! Lisa Tang ’11


The Physics concentration is for the brave-at-heart, those who are eager and willing to explore the fundamental truths of the universe. Being a student in the Physics Department trains your mind to be analytical, logical, and creative. Although the concentration is accompanied with the pains of late-night problem set sessions and hours of utter confusion, your efforts will be repaid with enjoyable witty company (other physics concentrators of course) and sweet eureka moments of comprehension. The Harvard Physics department is full of eager, accomplished professors who devote a lot of time to the relatively small Physics undergraduate student body, whether through chats during office hours or through supervised independent research in labs. However, the more exciting part about Physics at Harvard are your fellow students, who will keep you sane through your problem set all-nighters and help you cultivate a tradition of nerdy physics-based jokes. Course requirements are very minimal, allowing each student to follow a different sequence of subjects based on their interests, be it optics or biophysics or string theory. This is what makes the Physics undergraduate body vibrant and diverse. Physics concentrators are also advised to take a lot of departmental math courses as well (analysis, group theory, topology), and as a result, many opt to joint concentrate in Physics and Math. Basically, Physics is awesome and those considering it should talk to Dr. Morin to find out more! Hamsa Sridhar ’12


I came to Harvard with absolutely no idea about I wanted to concentrate in until the end of spring semester sophomore year. I had taken Introduction to Psychology with Professor Daniel Gilbert and his class completely won

me over. I remember our final lecture very clearly. Professor Gilbert said, “If you’ve enjoyed this class, it’s not because I’m a great teacher. It’s because it’s just difficult to make psychology boring.” Though I believe the first statement is false, the latter has rung very true for all the psychology classes I have taken. I have enjoyed learning about people and what makes us tick and have appreciated the many tracks the concentration offers. The Psychology department has a well-run advising program with a great community. For those concentrating in or considering concentrating in psychology, I have three main pieces of advice: Consider whether you would want to write a psychology thesis. Psychology theses are based on experiments you conduct and rely heavily on statistics so preparation begins as early as junior year. If you even think you want to do a thesis, get into a lab as soon as possible to gain experience and to form relationships with head faculty. Consider whether you want to study abroad during a semester. Going abroad is an amazing opportunity and the department is very flexible, but you must plan well and make sure you can complete all your requirements. Cessna Mac ’11

Religion, Comparative Study of

I really enjoy the opportunity to study Religion as it brings psychology into contact with theology, anthropology and literature. It also allows different religions into come in contact with one another. The community within the concentration is stellar. There are only about 50 undergraduates in it, meaning we get to have sophomore and senior tutorials as a group. Due to the direct access to the Divinity School, we get a wide variety of classes, library resources, and advisers. In addition to this, we also get to have one-on-one junior tutorials and not one, but two senior thesis advisers. Add in the flexibility of the concentration, where you can study art, politics, or whatever else interests you, and it’s the best of both worlds: personal and supporting, and broad and diverse. Any sophomore who believes that understanding religion is essential to understanding the modern world, or wants to find out just what in religion makes it such a defining part of so many people’s lives should absolutely consider the Study of Religion as a concentration. Matt Cavedon ’11

Romance Languages and Literatures

As with the mastery of any new tongue, learning a Romance language leads to the discovery of a new world. Unique to this particular language family is the richness of its Latin roots, as well as the historical, political, economic and cultural impact of its tradition upon the world. The Harvard Romance Languages and Literatures Department offers language courses in five of the six most widely spoken Romance languages, in addition to courses in the Spanish and Latin American, French and Francophone, Portuguese and LusoBrazilian, Italian and Catalan literary traditions. There is great flexibility in concentration choice: one may focus on as few as one and as many as three languages at a time (the latter known as the Romance Studies track, or the lot of the “language junkies”). Small class size allows for greater contact with the faculty, while the summer and semester-long study abroad programs consolidate your grasp of the language through direct exposure to the linguistic environment, whether you are just beginning or seeking complete fluency. The classes feature films, museum trips, visiting lecturers and a variety of projects, with room for creativity and liberty of interpretation. Recommended with enthusiasm for lovers of literature and language, foreign film buffs, classicists and all manner of Curious Georges. Lidiya Petrova ’11

11.11.10 • The Harvard Independent

Special Sanskrit and Indian Studies

Despite its name, a concentration in Sanskrit and Indian Studies does not consist only of the study of the Sanskrit language or the country of India. One can study one or more of the classical and modern languages of South and Southeast Asia, including Hindi- Urdu, Tamil, and Tibetan, and focus on any of the cultures within the region. Harvard’s resources for such a course of study are great, both in terms of the materials available and because of the brilliant faculty doing work on many aspects of South Asian culture, history, religion, and much more. The concentration is small, something which I have always found to be a great advantage. As a concentrator, I have enjoyed both easy access to virtually all of my professors and all of the personalized attention that I could wish for as well as a flexible framework that has allowed me to chart my own academic course in accordance with my specific interests. The relevant course offerings are very rich, despite the small size of the concentration, and I think it speaks to their quality that they are also popular choices as electives or to fulfill general education requirements. Nicolas Roth ’11

Slavic Languages and Literatures

A concentration in the Slavic Languages allows students to take a two-track approach to the study of Russian Literature and Culture and Russian Studies in general. The concentration allows for an in-depth study of Russian and other Eastern European countries. According to the department website, “We have integrated many approaches from adjacent fields into our work in the Department, including gender studies, film, theater, music, comparative literature, cultural studies, psychoanalysis, art history, history, and semiotics.” The majority of the classes are taught in English, which allows people from various other concentrations to take the courses without being at a disadvantage. The Slavic Language Department prides itself in the fact that it encourages interdisciplinary study rather than restricting students’ interests. The department also encourages, and will occasionally fund, study abroad programs offered in Eastern Europe. Department

Social Studies

Social Studies is a great concentration for those want to learn foundational social theory, take classes in several different social science disciplines, and write a senior thesis. The keystone yearlong sophomore tutorial, Social Studies 10, introduces students to foundational thinkers in social theory, from Hobbes and Rousseau to Fanon and de Beauvoir. With its weekly two-hour lecture and two-hour tutorial limited to 8 students typically living in the same house, Social Studies 10 is a challenging but manageable and worthwhile course that teaches students to think critically about social issues. In junior year, concentrators lottery into two semester-long, topic-specific tutorials on issues from Latin American development and ethnic conflict in South Asia to human rights and freedom. Capped at 10 students and limited to Social Studies concentrators, these tutorials universally receive top Q Guide scores, typically in the high 4’s with a few that are rated 5.0. Seniors are required to write a thesis, receiving guidance through the yearlong senior thesis tutorial. The thesis is based on the student’s individually created “focus field,” a series of 4-6 classes taken in the social sciences that form a cohesive area of study. In addition to defending their theses, seniors take an oral exam testing their knowledge of social theory. Additional concentration requirements are courses in economics, statistics, and philosophy. The concentration has a good advising system. Social Studies epitomizes the liberal arts education – it allows concentrators great latitude in course selection while also The Harvard Independent • 11.11.10

instilling in students the critical thinking skills needed for academic and professional success. Niharika Jain ’12


As a Sociology concentrator, I would highly recommend it! The Sociology department at Harvard is set apart from others by its relatively small size, which allows students to get much more personal attention and support. In addition, the faculty members in the Sociology department are passionate about what they teach, accessible and approachable. The department as whole is well organized and well structured. Sociology is a multi-disciplinary field so it covers a wide range of topics such as social inequality, poverty, race relations, globalization, social movements, housing and homelessness, education, crime, politics, health care and medicine to name just a few. The topics covered in Sociology directly address the humanistic concerns of the world and satisfy the desire of students who have a heart to help those in need and to make a difference in the world. The required Sociology courses at Harvard include a mix of theory, statistics, and quantitative and qualitative methods classes. The sophomore tutorial covers all of the major classical and modern social theory while the junior tutorials is run as a small research workshop; both classes are kept small and well taught. The Sociology courses at Harvard open your eyes to most of the pertinent issues in society today and cause you to think deeply about their causes and possible solutions. Sociology concentrators graduate equipped to apply theory as well as qualitative and qualitative analysis to real world issues. Eunice Lee ’11


Two things that stand out about the statistics department are its flexibility and friendliness. The graduation requirements are designed so that you can design my own statistics curriculum. The only difficult requirements are Statistics 110/111 (you can pick between theoretical and applied statistics). In addition, the department offers a wide variety of courses for its elective requirements. You can pick and choose courses from engineering, math and government. Socially, the department is small, tight-knight and very welcoming. Chinese food nights and talks bring the whole department together in one room so that we all get to know each other. My biggest advice for those considering statistics is to get to know an adviser. Even if you don’t plan to do any research, getting to know your adviser can make a big difference in becoming a part of the department. Tatsu Hashimoto ’11

Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Women, Gender and Sexuality (WGS) is one of the more recent additions to the list of possible concentrations. Modeled after the Women’s Life Studies and the Study of Sex and Sexuality offered at neighboring institutions, WGS allows students to examine the roles that sex and sexuality play in society. According to the department’s website, WGS seeks to explore the idea that gender and sexuality are “fundamental categories of social organization and power that are inseparable from race, ethnicity, class, nationality and other categories of difference.” The mission of the WGS is reinforced, in part, by the recent surge of LGBTQIA organizations on campus and the increased visibility of the Queer Student Resource Center (located in the basement of Thayer). For students, WGS creates an opportunity to have open, scholarly dialogues on subjects that many of them have not previously studied or considered. The smaller class sizes allow for increased attention and development of relationships between professors and students, which is a rarity in other, larger departments. Department


Açaí, You'll be Mine

Dieting adventures: part two. By SANYEE YUAN “Açaí is a scam!” These four words come to mind as I snap up in bed at 11:30 A.M. and realize that my clock radio alarm has been singing for the past hour. I felt so tired and groggy, deepening my suspicion towards the supposed “energy boost” promoted on my bottle of açaí dietary supplements. But as I brush my teeth in two seconds and throw on clothes, I consider the other factors that could contribute to my extreme exhaustion. Perhaps it’s my five-class, three-job schedule? And the freelance production projects that I’ve taken outside of Harvard? That could be it. On the first day of my second week on the açaí diet, I have made the executive decision to hit the gym as well for the primary purpose of testing out the supposed energy boost. I skim through the schedules of group classes at the gym and am surprised at the wide range of options that are available and free for students. Adding Hardcore Abs, Cardio Kicks, Balletone (strengthening muscles through ballet footwork), Total Body Conditioning, and Cycling to my Google calendar, I cannot contain my excitement at the thought of dusting my gym sneakers off and working out again. My first session of Cardio Kicks gets my heart racing with simple combinations of kicking and punching. I guess this class lives up to its name, but I definitely don’t feel like the workout was intense enough. Staying for Hardcore Abs afterwards, I engage in nearly half an hour of crunches and push-ups and soon discover that I have spent my life doing crunches incorrectly (I already knew I did cruddy push-ups). By the end of my first pilgrimage back to the gym, I’m not incredibly drained and I don’t feel like crashing the minute I return to

Visual and Environmental Studies

Today, I learned how to make paper from natural fibers. A few weeks ago, I learned how to make dyes with natural plants that could be found in Harvard square. This past 2 months, I have been working on a thesis where I collect the bones of everything I’ve eaten. There are many things that I have done in my college career that I wish I could take back, but deciding to concentrate in Visual and Environmental Studies is definitely not one of them. There’s more to it than drawing cool things; it’s an education that allows you to view the world and

my dorm. Thanks, açaí? Two days later, I participate in a second session of Cardio Kicks and Hardcore Abs with a new instructor whose upbeat, drill-sergeant-like leadership style immediately gets the class running. There is no stopping, no water breaks, nothing but jabbing, jumping jacks and jogging in place to work off all the Halloween gluttony from the weekend. By the end of the hour, I feel sweaty and sore and the soreness only deepens by the next day. It’s a good feeling though and I begin to think that supplementing the dietary supplement with exercise is a necessary requirement for getting the overall “lowering metabolism” effect to work. Over dinner, my friend tells me about an energy shot that he tried the previous night that initially gave him the best evening workout of his life, but then kept him wide awake until four in the morning. Shaking his head, he bemoaned how sluggish he felt. I decided that my açaí was at least better than an energy shot, even if it didn’t give me the double boost of energy that my friend’s energy shot did. I felt like I was getting in better shape and I did feel fuller during meals after taking the açaí in the morning, thus preventing the over-eating tendencies of freshman year. It is halfway through my açaí adventures and although I am doubtful about some of its boastful claims, I am still willing to stick it out. Even if it has not woken me up in time for class, it has at least gotten me to the gym. Sanyee Yuan ’12 (syuan@fas) hopes to use her energizer berry to keep going, and going...

interact with it in a way that no other concentration can. While my peers write endless papers and work on countless psets that only TFs will ever look at, VES concentrators have the opportunity to take their thoughts and turn them into something tangible, something people can literally grasp. With courses in sculpture, photography, film, video, painting, drawing, and environmental studies, there’s no end to how you can flex your creative muscles. Even if you are unsure of your artistic abilities, or wary of the long classes and the small class sizes, the effort is well worth it. Ivy Pan ’11



The Drama Returns The ambitious season premiere that delivers. By SAYANTAN DEB


s the camera feverishly pans across a disheveled room and the passed out body of Leo Berkman, the intrigue builds. The focus turns to a tense Mark and you know that Ivory Tower, the longest running college TV show, is back! Mark is ambitious, clever, a sweettalker — the typical student from our ivy-covered institution. Having grown up in a small town, he comes to Harvard with big dreams. He also lands an incredible opportunity as the chaperone to one of the nation’s foremost business magnates, Leo Berkman. Berkman is being honored by Harvard, even though his company has recently been affected by the housing bubble burst. Berkman is Mark’s hero and potentially the key to his future. However, there are plenty of obstacles in Mark’s way. Their names are Rachel, the annoying reporter looking for an interview with Berkman, Evan Powers, Mark’s competitor and the senator’s son who is on a first name basis with Berkman, and finally Danny, Mark’s best friend, a CS


major with a drug business on the side. Mark’s girlfriend Fiona also makes quite an entrance — watch the episode to find out more. What is striking from the very beginning is the surprisingly great production value. It is comparable to any other TV show on air. The frames are meticulously detailed and every scene is carefully thought out. The writing (courtesy of Samuel Chalsen ’12) is brilliant. There are genuine laughout-loud moments in the nine-minute episode that help move the story forward, while keeping the mood of the story intact. The characters (of which there are quite a few) are also etched out well. I am looking forward to seeing how they develop throughout the season. The actors fit their characters to a T. Peter Bestoso’s ’14 portrayal of Danny is brilliant —his comedic timing is impeccable. Anthony Sterle ’12 performance as protagonist Mark is poised and hits all the notes. Kevin Kate is perfect, and quite funny, as the Wall Street scumbag. Katherine Price ’14 as the annoying reporter is commendable — her scene with Mark is delicious! Vanessa Koo ’12 portrayal as Fiona is intriguing and although we don’t get to see a lot of her in this episode, we are interested to find out her role in future episodes. A special mention must go out to Nicole Kapu ’14 as the ‘dumb girl’ — she is absolutely

hilarious! The best part of this episode is the direction and editing, introducing a plethora of characters in nine minutes can be a challenge. However, it comes naturally in the episode and nothing feels clumsy or forced. The way the frames are set up highlights the actors and adds to the dramatic air of the episode. The opening sequence is a great example of the innovative direction by Daniel Claridge ’13. The crisp editing and the fast pace give the story ample space to develop while

keeping the audience engaged. My reviews usually begin with “if you have time to procrastinate.” In this case, I would make an exception. Don’t only watch the season premier of Ivory Tower if you have time to kill — make time to watch it. It will be worth your nine minutes and I can guarantee you will be hooked, checking the website often for the second episode. It is that good! Sayantan Deb ’14 (sayantandeb@ college) is officially hooked.

11.11.10 • The Harvard Independent



Take Two

Top five sophomore albums.



ontrary to the popularized concept of the sophomore slump, some bands actually hit their stride with their sophomore effort. For them, their first LP opens the door to the popular music scene, but it is their second album that lets the artist experiment and grow as musicians. Although some bands’ sophomore effort never truly equals the quality of their first albums (The Velvet Underground and Santana to name two), others use that first foray into the professional world of music to create the foundation for future works. Without further delay, here are my (and hopefully some of your) top five sophomore albums. 5. “The Score” by The Fugees (released February 13, 1996) Many of us may be familiar with the individualcareersofWycelfJeanandLaurynHill. I doubt, however, that many of us remember when these two giants of hip-hop were only two members in a trio of beats, rhythms, and rhymes.Beforethesetwoindividualswenttheir separateways,alongwithJean’sfellowHaitianAmericanPrasMichel,theylaiddownthirteen tracks have stood the test of time in a world of auto-tuneandcomputerizedbeats.“TheScore” attracts the casual fan with the fame of the former hip-hop superstars, but it keeps them hooked with the magnetic rhythms produced organically via drums, bass, guitar and keys. We also get the smooth yet varied flow from three distinct rapping styles. “Ready or not,” The Fugees wanted to settle the “score” in their sophomore release and I would say they did it with authority. 4. “Vs.” by Pearl Jam (released October 18, 1993) Pearl Jam may have burst onto the early 90’s grunge scene with their first The Harvard Independent • 11.11.10

album “Ten,” but their second effort includes some of their best material. What makes “Vs.” such a great sophomore album is the fact that it takes the success from the first attempt (hard-hitting, in-your-face, electrically-distorted rock) and uses it as a framework to introduce new material that may stray stylistically from their forte. The first three songs on Pearl Jam’s second LP provide a perfect example of this exploration into new styles. Tracks like “Go” and “Animal” are what fans of Pearl Jam’s first album expect. However, songs like “Daughter” and “Elderly Woman…”

showcase proved why they sit on top of a genre that has grown immensely in popularity. It is dark, heavy and the brevity of the eight songs leaves us wanting more. Listening to such iconic songs as “Iron Man,” it is impossible not to headbang or air-guitar. But “Paranoid” is suprisingly accessible. It is born out of the blues rock of the 60’s and the influences show. The recording quality may be subpar for some audiophiles, but fans of blues, metal and classic rock can all find reasons to keep listening to “Paranoid.”

"For every musical brotherhood, there is an album. For metalheads across the world, that album is most likely Black Sabbath’s 'Paranoid.'" show how the band has grown and that is what makes “Vs.” such a great listen. 3. “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath (released September 18, 1970) For every religion, there is a holy text. For every musical brotherhood, there is an album. For metalheads across the world, that album is most likely Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.” Along with Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath is seen as one of the forefathers of metal. Their sophomore

2. “Axis: Bold as Love” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (released January 15, 1968) Now matter which part of the musical spectrum occupy, every fan of rock and roll will have inevitably come across Jimi Hendrix in their musical journey. He is an icon of the “flower power” generation. His fame continues with each new generation because he changed how people viewed the electric guitar. Hendrix built his experimental live guitar chops

from the impressive framework of songs he developed in his studio albums. No album stands out from his discography as much as “Axis: Bold of Love.” “Are You Experienced?” may be more refined and “Electric Ladyland” may have more of the heaviness that Hendrix is known for, but his second LP shares similarities with both. “If 6 Was “ is an eerie exploration, but “Little Wing” is an all too brief piece of beauty. Hendrix is most diverse in his second attempt and that, along with the colorful artwork, is what makes his sophomore suite shine. 1.“LedZeppelinII”byLedZeppelin(released October 22, 1969) It may be number two in title, but it is number one on my list. How do you sum up one of the best rock and roll albums of all time? You can try to find imperfections, but “Led Zeppelin II” seems to have few, if any. The heavily blues-influenced rock and roll on Led Zeppelin’s prodigious second effort is executed with powerful musicianship. Jimmy Page channels the energy of his live performances with the precision of the studio to display his songwriting talent along with some of his best riffs. The man who steals the show however, is John Bonham. “Moby Dick” is a thunderous drum solo filled with powerful musicianship thatsetsthebarforfuturedrummers.Itistruly the combination of all four band members that creates this masterpiece. Each member of the quartet seems to be pushing the rest of the band throughout the album. The culmination of this driving force is one heavy piece of music history. Brad Rose ’14 (brose@college) believes that the sophomore slump can be (musically) conquered.


captured & shot By SUSAN ZHU

The Sophomore Issue  

The Indy is concentrating in awesome.

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