The faculty didn't know enough about the Budapest FSP

by Kerry Whitacre | 11/15/93 6:00am

Last Wednesday, a faculty committee voted to end the Budapest Foreign Study Program after eight years of existence. This decision was made without any involvement or input from students. I , along with seventeen other '94s, participated on the program during fall term of 1992. Most, if not all, of us believe that this program was the most dynamic, intellectually broadening experiences of our Dartmouth careers. But the committee wouldn't know that.

The committee reasoned that because the program was not located within a department and did not have sufficient faculty support that it should not exist. But what about the students?

First, the fact that the Budapest FSP is not located in a department is precisely the reason why many students opted for this program over another. The material presented in the FSP represented three academic disciplines which paints a more thorough representation of the types of harrowing changes all of Central and Eastern Europe are presently experiencing.

Second, without a sole department emphasis, students of various majors, many of which do not have their own FSP's can participate without the need for comprehension of one field. Instead, participants of the Budapest FSP have majors such as Government, Economics, English, history, Engineering, Geography, Math and Social Sciences and Russian. Aside from language study abroad, this is the only program that is applicable to students of varying majors.

Third, if there is a lack of faculty interest, then that is indicative of the lack of academic expertise of Central and Eastern Europe on this campus. Students who want to study Eastern Europe are hard pressed to find courses to satisfy their interests. Presently, students must use their own initiative to create independent studies or to pursue theses without the support of faculty proficient in this area. This year alone, two students are writing government honors theses on some aspect of Central and Eastern Europe. Instead of canceling a strong program because of the lack of faculty interest, efforts should be made to hire a new professor in this area.

Finally, the committee also cited the new geography FSP in Prague as a sufficient alternative for those interested in Central and Eastern Europe. How can geography in Prague equal government, economics and history in Budapest?

Dartmouth lost a lot when the faculty decided to end the Budapest FSP. Dartmouth students are losing the chance to have an invaluable academic and life experience studying government, economics and history, in an area of the world rich in history and undergoing tremendous economic, political, social and cultural change. But the committee wouldn't know that.

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