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Students should have greater foreign exposure

I know absolutely nothing about the situation in the history department but I suspect a structural problem is an important part of its enrollment problems. Some major changes occurred in the political science department at the same time. My impression is that a major cause was the attack on double majors and the increase of concentration in the majors. We had a lot of joint majors with history and they disappeared.

But, in addition, the structure of concentration requirements also came close to wiping out the study of foreign countries in political science. I shifted to teaching American government and foreign policy and enrollment shot right back up-and I teach the courses as history from 1765 onwards. I am quite happy with what I teach, but Duke students should be exposed more to the outside world.

It seems to me that the inward-looking and present-day orientation of the structure of the Duke curriculum is very unfortunate. The present generation of undergraduates has lived through the most unusual period in American history. A 20-year-old American has known no economic, foreign policy or social crisis. I think that no other 15-year period of American history has been like that. Duke students will be the ruling generation in 2030, and the good times of their life time will not last forever-my guess is, not even next year. They desperately need to have some perspective on the outside world and the historical experience of more troubled times if they are to be ready to taking a leading role in the future.

Jerry Hough

James B. Duke Professor of Political Science

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