Starting this year, the History of Science, History of Medicine major will be offered under a new name — and with a different set of graduation requirements.
The major, renamed History of Science, Medicine and Public Health, will require students to choose one of five programs of study called “pathways” and feature a one-term alternative to the previous yearlong senior essay requirement. Frank Snowden, chair of the program, said the changes will help the program advertise the content of the major more accurately.
“What we do is best advertised as the history of science, medicine and public health,” he said. “It conveys to students a more accurate idea of what goes on in the courses of the program.”
Current sophomores are the first class required to choose a pathway from five options: medicine and public health; global health; science, technology and power; gender and sexuality; and art and media. Snowden said students can also devise their own pathway. Current junior majors can opt to fulfill the requirements for either the old major or the new one. Seniors majoring in History of Science, Medicine and Public Health can now opt for either a term or yearlong senior project, and Snowden said students can present documentaries or put together exhibits instead of writing senior essays.
Snowden said the five pathways will allow students to concentrate their academic study and take a coherent set of classes. He added that the pathways will enable advisers to better help students choose courses without removing academic flexibility. Paola Bertucci, director of undergraduate studies for the major, said students will also be required to take at least one course outside their pathways.
Bertucci said students generally disliked certain components of the old major, especially the intermediate science requirement. Though the new major requires science classes, these do not need to be at the intermediate level. She said the program introduced the pathway on science, technology and power to ensure that the history of science does not get overshadowed by the history of medicine and public health in the major’s course offerings.
The seven History of Science, Medicine and Public Health majors interviewed said they support the introduction of pathways in the reformed major.
Rushika Pattni ’15 said she supports pathways because majors already pursue specific academic interests within the major. She said she is relieved that the intermediate science requirements have been removed since she is not a pre-med student, adding that the reform assists the major in attracting history-oriented students rather than just science-oriented ones.
Shuaib Raza ’14 said he thinks few students will opt for the term-long senior project, as a full-year project is required to graduate with distinction in the major.
History of Science, Medicine and Public Health is comprised of 64 undergraduate majors and eight professors.
Clarification: Feb. 1
A previous version of this article quoted Paola Bertucci, director of undergraduate studies for the History of Science, Medicine and Public Health major, as saying the major “wanted to attract students not interested in sciences.” In fact, Bertucci explained that in addition to pre-medical students, the major wanted to attract students interested in the relationship between the sciences, arts and humanities.