Social Studies

Dr. Anya Bernstein Bassett, Director of Studies

Social Studies was founded in 1960 by a distinguished group of faculty who believed that the study of the social world requires an integration of the disciplines of history, political science, economics, sociology, and anthropology. For over five decades, Social Studies has brought together outstanding teachers and intellectually engaged students who share a fascination with social science research and theory and a deep interest in applying social science to contemporary social, economic, and political problems.

The common introduction to Social Studies is Social Studies 10, which introduces students to some of the thinkers who have durably shaped the way we understand modern society. Students examine the development of modern moral, political, and economic ideas and they consider the role of the individual in modern society, studying foundational texts by Smith, Mill, Tocqueville, Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Du Bois, Fanon, Beauvoir, Foucault, Fanon, and Habermas. Throughout Social Studies 10, students are taught to read theoretical arguments carefully and critically and to juxtapose them against historical developments and social experience. Social Studies 10 is taught both in lecture and in small group tutorials where discussion and writing skills are emphasized.

The purpose of the junior tutorials in Social Studies is to immerse students in a detailed and focused study of an empirical, theoretical, or historical topic in the social sciences. Junior tutorials also teach social science methodology, providing students with instruction on research techniques and offering them experience in conducting primary research in preparation for their senior theses.

Students develop an individualized focus field in consultation with their academic adviser. They identify an area of interest (for example, inequality, development, or modern social theory) and create a plan of study. A Social Studies plan of study includes a minimum of four courses, normally drawn from at least two social science departments and including at least one course on a historical topic. Students may petition to take social science courses taught in non-social science departments or courses offered at some of Harvard’s professional schools. A student who is studying inequality might take one course in sociology, one course in economics, one course in history, and one course at the Harvard Kennedy School. A student who is studying development might take two courses in economics, one in anthropology, and one in history. A student of social theory might take one course in philosophy, one course in history, and two courses in government (including one on the history of political thought).

In the senior year, all Social Studies concentrators enroll in a one-on-one tutorial in preparation for researching and writing a senior thesis. This is a requirement for all concentrators.

All sophomores considering concentrating in Social Studies must take Social Studies 10a: Introduction to Social Studies in the fall term. This course is a prerequisite for submitting a Declaration of Intent, which must be approved by the Director of Studies.  The deadline for filing a Declaration of Intent for sophomores (members of the class of 2019) is Friday, October 21st, 2016.

Transfer students and second-semester sophomores seeking to change concentrations can submit a Declaration of Intent to Social Studies on the first day of classes in the spring term (January 23, 2017).  If the Declaration of Intent is approved, those students may become Social Studies concentrators immediately, but will need to wait to start Social Studies 10 in the fall of their junior year. First semester juniors can submit a Declaration of Intent by the first day of classes in the fall (August 31st, 2016) and may also become Social Studies concentrators immediately.

REQUIREMENTS
13 courses (52 credits)

  1. Required courses:
    1. Social Studies 10a and 10b.
    2. Social Studies 98, the junior tutorial. Students must take two junior tutorials.
    3. Social Studies 99, the senior tutorial (year-long 8-credit course, indivisible).
    4. One course in economics. This requirement can be fulfilled by taking Economics 10a and/or 10b, or by taking one course in economics for which Economics 10 is a prerequisite. The economics requirement must be completed by the end of the junior year.
    5. One course in elementary statistics. The statistics requirement must be completed by the end of the junior year.
    6. Social Studies 40, The Philosophy and Methods of the Social Sciences, or another course in social science methodology. Students who are studying social theory may petition to substitute an appropriate social theory course. Students must complete this requirement by the end of the junior year.
    7. Four to six courses in the student’s focus field. These courses will be selected in consultation with the student’s adviser and must be approved by the Social Studies Board of Instruction. The focus field should be drawn from two social science departments and must include at least one course on a historical topic. At least two of these courses must be taken in the FAS.
  2. Tutorials:
    1. Sophomore year: Social Studies 10a and 10b (two terms). Letter-graded. Weekly lectures and discussion sections in groups of eight students.
    2. Junior year: Social Studies 98. Two terms required.
    3. Senior year: Social Studies 99 (full-course, indivisible), the writing of a senior thesis. Graded SAT/UNS. Each thesis has two independent readers.
  3. Thesis: Required.
  4. General Examination: An oral examination taken at the end of the senior year which includes a defense of the thesis and a comprehensive discussion of the student’s focus area in Social Studies.

Joint Concentrations

Social Studies allows joint concentrations with a few programs, including African and African American Studies; the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality; East Asian Studies; and South Asian Studies. Students who wish to do a joint concentration must meet with the Director of Studies to explain why they would like to joint concentrate instead of concentrating in Social Studies and taking a number of courses in the other concentration.  We do not allow joint concentrations with science or humanities departments (other than those mentioned above) or with social science departments that we share faculty with (anthropology, economics, government, history, or sociology).

ADVISING

Each student entering the concentration is assigned an advisor who sits on the Social Studies Board of Advisers and is responsible for helping the student plan his or her course of study. In the first semester of concentration, the advisor is that student’s sophomore tutor. Whenever possible, the same advisor continues to serve in this capacity until the student graduates. When this is not possible, another advisor is assigned who shares interests with the student. Students must meet with their advisors at least three times a year to discuss course selection, their focus field, and their plan of study; more frequent meetings are strongly encouraged. The Director of Studies heads the Board of Advisors.

For up-to-date information on advising in Social Studies, please go to www.socialstudies.fas.harvard.edu or visit the Advising Programs Office website.

HOW TO FIND OUT MORE

For more information, contact the Assistant Director of Studies for Freshmen and Sophomores, Dr. Bonnie Talbert, or the Undergraduate Program Administrator, Kate Anable, on the third floor of William James Hall (617-495-2163).

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS
Number of Concentrators as of December

Concentrators20082009201020112012201320142015
Social Studies296311297322300280252230
Social Studies + another field6291011161916
Another field + Social Studies00000000