Administration should prioritize, bolster existing programs over new majors

To the Editor:

With its recent decision to approve two new interdisciplinary majors, Yale has, in effect, reaffirmed its current commitment to reckless and hasty expansion.

Admittedly, Modern Middle East Studies and Computing and the Arts will likely provide students interested in these areas with a more cohesive curriculum that combines a host of themes, topics and skills. However, the faculty’s refusal to develop new course offerings particular to the respective majors fails to fully do justice to their ambitious plans. These majors, then, aren’t so much a “new” creation as they are a reorganization of existing disciplines.

To be sure, one cannot reasonably expect that any new major would surface with an entirely new course catalog; nevertheless, a firm foundation in any subject should necessarily be grounded in material beyond the scope of other complementary areas of study.

Without this, these majors will lack the legs to stand on their own, diminishing the quality of the academic program as a whole and limiting the prospect of finding faculty willing to wholly devote their energies to these nascent scholastic areas.

Instead of needlessly expanding an already bloated Blue Book, Yale should focus on aggregating its resources to strengthen smaller, less-established departments that continually face challenges concerning faculty retention and funding. The same breadth and depth of study can be achieved by adding interdisciplinary options and official concentrations within larger majors like History and Economics. And why not provide the resources and faculty necessary to upgrade secondary disciplines, such as International Studies and Ethnicity, Race and Migration, to stand-alone majors?

Given the number of issues already plaguing many of the academic departments, Yale should worry less about responding to contemporary, emergent interests and concentrate more on what made this institution so attractive in the first place.

Brandon Johnson

Feb. 9

The writer is junior in Jonathan Edwards College.

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