Dean of Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd said this week that Bowdoin could offer a financial accounting course in collaboration with the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth as soon as the spring semester. Judd insisted that the course would be grounded in a liberal arts sensibility, but also acknowledged that it would help students in their job searches.

Bowdoin’s “Statement on a Liberal Education” reads: “Although a liberal education is not narrowly vocational, it provides the broadest grounding for finding a vocation by preparing students to be engaged, adaptable, independent, and capable citizens.” The College must ensure that new additions to the curriculum meet this standard by encouraging critical and humanistic inquiry. The economics department should design a class in which students would not only learn the basics of financial accounting but also develop a critical understanding of finance. The course would not adhere to Bowdoin’s educational mission if it solely taught the skills necessary to succeed in the financial services industry.

We acknowledge that a large number of Bowdoin graduates hope to find jobs in business and finance, and that some of them are unable to secure internships that will help them develop relevant skills. It is troubling that many students who do find finance jobs spend thousands of dollars to attend preparatory programs such as those offered by the Tuck School or the London School of Economics, which cost about $15,000 and $5,500, respectively. Over the last three Winter Breaks, Bowdoin has hosted the third-party Fullbridge Program, which teaches business skills at a slightly lower cost. The number of students enrolling in these programs suggests that a financial accounting course would be in high demand. Implementing one would make it so that Bowdoin’s best candidates for jobs in finance are not just those who can pay for expensive programs.

Bowdoin has indeed offered courses in the past which touched on vocational skills. The visual arts program has occasionally offered a course in architectural design, although it was last taught by artist Alicia Eggert in the context of sculpture. Writing Women, taught by visiting Tallman Scholar Susan Faludi last spring, challenged students to “produce their own investigative, magazine-style project related to women or gender,” but also engaged the history of feminism and the sociology of gender.

In the case of an accounting class developed in conjunction with a prominent business school, the College has to prove that students will learn skills necessary for exploring larger themes in the discipline, and not simply beef up their resumes. Judd has assured us that any financial accounting course will fit in fully with the College’s curriculum. We believe that the Curriculum Implementation Committee is working diligently to create an appropriate course, but want more than Judd’s assurances—we want a full explanation of how the proposed course will promote critical inquiry and honor the tradition of the liberal arts.

This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Garrett Casey, Ron Cervantes, Natalie Kass-Kaufman, Sam Miller, Leo Shaw, and Kate Witteman.