I thought there were a couple of interesting things about this Reuters report about Harvard's curriculum review committee, which decided to drop a required religion course from the core undergraduate curriculum. The first is simply how the report claims questions raised by the humanities would be handled: students will be required to take courses under the major outcome heading, "What does it mean to be a human being?" What is fasinating about this is that it appears that Harvard is intentionally revamping their curriculum in order to ensure measurable outcomes, one of the major planks of the Spellings Commission, even though they are not accredited by the Big Six regional accreditors. By lumping religion courses with the rest of the humanities under this broad question, the review committee undoubtedly is saying that religion is one of many sources that would help to answer this big question about the meaning of human existence.
The second thing here is this: why is Harvard's curriculum review so important that it is reported on the regular news wire and picked up by CNN.com? Because where Harvard goes curriculuarly, many institutions will follow. And so, if you want to see the university to which your children may go (or at least mine will go), it is important to watch the curricular changes that Harvard proposes. Harvard's influence continues to be broad and deep, signaling important sea-changes in American education.