Reed's senior symposium, Humanities 411, successor to the year-long interdivisional symposium of the 1950s and early 1960s, is designed "to provide a common core of study for seniors of all divisions and to promote an exchange of experience in an effort to understand critical problems of our age," according to the current course catalog. This language has been used to describe the course since at least 1962-63, the earliest catalog I have on my bookshelf.|
Resurrected by Kaspar T. Locher, professor of German and humanities, emeritus, in 1986 as a one-semester half-course, it has been steadily popular with students and faculty in the ensuing decade, having 60 enrolled students and 15 faculty members in 1996-97. Five sections of 12 students and three faculty members each meet weekly, normally in the evening at a section member's residence, to discuss a reading from the syllabus. The broad range of disciplines represented in each section (one section last year had faculty members from the Chinese, philosophy, and chemistry departments) assures that a variety of viewpoints and methodologies will be brought to bear in each discussion.
On the assumption that alumni, parents, and friends of the college are also likely to be interested in these readings, here is a brief summary of the 1996-97 readings and an indication of leading candidates for the 1997-98 syllabus.