Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dreadful (?) duo

History 89h. Henry Kissinger: Statecraft in Theory and Practice.

That's the title of an undergraduate seminar being taught by Niall Ferguson at Harvard this fall. A friend of mine described the combination of professor and subject as "unfathomably loathsome" (your mileage may vary, or it may not).

The course description in the catalog reads:
As National Security Adviser and Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger was the architect of the policy of détente with the Soviet Union, of the "opening" to China, and of the effort to salvage "peace with honor" in Vietnam. Yet Kissinger should be understood as a scholar as well as a statesman. Using selections from his writings, this seminar will assess Kissinger in his own terms and in the context of modern international history.
Who's going to take the course? Obviously some history students and maybe, I'd guess, some political science majors -- or, to use the school's official lingo, Government concentrators. Enrollment is limited to 15.

Although I can't abide Ferguson's politics (and cf. the recent justified outrage over his Newsweek piece), I have no idea what Ferguson is like as a teacher. If he welcomes a range of views and doesn't try to push his own line on students, the course might be, at least, non-terrible. (It might even be good.) If he does something else, well...

P.s. What if -- probably a very unlikely scenario -- Ferguson were co-teaching this with Stanley Hoffmann? Now that might have been really interesting.

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