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Hello dear reader, I’m baaaack!!! This marks my return to (hopefully) a blogging frequency of two posts per month, especially now that life is a lot more happening. And chaotic. And wonderful. In short: good writing material.
We’ve only had eight days of classes so far – what I call the honeymoon period. That is, when I’m still wide-eyed and excited and not yet bogged down by the daily grind.
I arrived on campus on August 26 feeling distinctly out of sync – restless, not exactly at peace with the selected courses on my Crimson Cart, slightly overwhelmed by the rhythms of campus life after a year of pandemic solitude, and wanting so very badly to not waste my last year at Harvard. Fast forward two weeks and I already feel much happier. I wouldn’t say I’m fully in sync (yet), but I’m – perhaps – beginning to find my sweet spot (both in and out of the classroom).
I haven’t done one of these “here are my classes!” posts in a century and writing this reminds me all over again why I love college. It’s like being at Universal Studios and trying to decide which ride to go on when you can only fit in four or five. Or standing in the aisle of an emporium, trying to pick and choose, peering at each label, wondering which will change you – all of them will, to some extent; but which will change you the most? Or like Charlie in the chocolate factory. You get the idea.
Though we only had a virtual course preview period in lieu of the usual physical shopping week (where you shop for classes, literally), I’ve been treating the first week or so as my own ‘shopping week’ basically. There were a few classes I’d originally enrolled in but ended up dropping (and chaotic reshuffling ensued) – goodbye GENED 1094 Confronting Climate Change, ESPP 77 Technology, Environment & Society, PHIL 27 Truth, Lies and the Press~
As the dust settles, I’m clutching a schedule that I feel truly alive for. One that makes me want to wake up and go to class everyday. So here’s what I’m taking:
ENGLISH CAJR: Investigations: Journalism and Social Justice — Jill Abramson
Probably the class I’m most excited about this semester!!! I really enjoyed reading Prof. Abramson’s book, Merchants of Truth, which explores the historic changes that have gripped newsrooms over the past decade as they shift to digital. In particular, I was struck (and moved) by how candidly she discussed the episode during which she was fired as the executive editor of the New York Times and how she navigated the pull of different priorities while staying true to her ideals. I’m excited to write investigative pieces in this workshop, to dig, to probe, to accumulate facts, to carefully craft, and to let the truth emerge from evidence. And admittedly I’m eager to study how to better write and report from one of America’s (arguably) most experienced journalists. I hope I can write stories that I will be proud of. After all, to investigate is at the heart of journalism.
IGA 505: Solving Tech’s Public Dilemmas — Ash Carter
I’ve been thinking a lot about tech ever since the first ideas for my novel were seeded in the summer of 2019. Over this past summer, part of it spent reporting on tech for Bloomberg, I’ve started thinking more about the policy side of things – China’s major tech clampdown presents one model of regulation. What will happen in the west? After so many watershed moments like the Cambridge Analytica scandal, reveals of foreign intervention in manipulating voting patterns, and gradual cognizance of terms like “surveillance capitalism,” “persuasion architecture” and “ad-driven existence,” how will we regulate data ownership, social media, AI, and the biosciences revolution that we’re on the cusp of?
And I also just really wanted to take a class with Prof. Carter, who was the former U.S. Secretary of Defense from 2015-17, and hear about how he sees the government solving these very public dilemmas that are defining what it means to be human and how society is organized. What role should and can the government play? What can we do as citizens and consumers (or as ‘products’ – “if you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold“)?
PHILOSOPHY 138: Heidegger’s Being and Time — Sean Kelly
To be honest, I know little about Heidegger apart from what I read in a course on phenomenology. His writings have often struck me as impenetrable but I’m really taking this course for Prof. Kelly, who’s one of the leading experts on Heidegger and oh-so amazing a lecturer. He quotes from Moby Dick, distills the abstruse into fundamental, intelligible questions, and makes Heidegger’s big tome feel accessible and the questions in his philosophical agenda strangely universal.
HISTLIT 99: Senior Tutorial — Vikrant Dadawala
(Please only talk to me about my senior thesis in October. Kthnxbye. >.<)
(Will write more on the thesis in a future blog post.)
Auditing one course:
GOV 1982: Chinese Foreign Policy 1949-Present — Alastair Iain Johnston
I’ve never systematically studied Chinese foreign policy or modern Chinese history beyond the Cultural Revolution. And despite several research stints, I’ve also never formally studied IR theory. Looking at Chinese history and self-perception through a foreign policy lens and theoretical frameworks will be something new. The interplay of this history with what’s unfolding in the present (Belt and Road, wolf warrior diplomacy, Xi’s new priorities, etc.) will no doubt inform. The only reason why I’m auditing this (instead of enrolling) is because I don’t want to write a 25-page research paper while doing my thesis.
As always, if you ever want to chat about any of the topics/questions/ideas mentioned above, I’d love to!!! Meanwhile, wishing each of you a fruitful, healthy, rewarding last few months of 2021 ❤