May 21st, 2009 | Uncategorized

Faculty members discuss academic minors

At a meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences earlier this month, faculty members formally discussed the possibility of instituting minors for the first time but did not vote on the issue.

Pericles Lewis, co-chair of the Committee on Majors, said many faculty members spoke in favor of minors at the well-attended meeting.

“The discussion was incredibly rich and fruitful,” Yale College Dean Mary Miller said. “It’s the kind of conversation one hopes for in a meeting in which people will learn from one another.”

Faculty members largely echoed arguments  in the committee’s report on minors, Lewis said. Supporters said it would be beneficial to grant credit to students for undertaking a significant number of courses in a specific field. Instituting minors could also help under-enrolled departments, they said. Opponents of the idea said students might become more rigid in their course selection for the sake of building resumes.

But one major new argument was raised, Lewis said. Some faculty members suggested that the implementation of minors might have a detrimental effect on students who choose not to pursue one. These students might be passed over in seminar selection or considered less qualified in job applications.

Lewis said while the faculty did not reach a decision at the meeting, a faculty member could propose a motion to vote on the issue in the fall. The Committee on Majors, he said, will likely make a recommendation on the motion, if one is proposed.

Alternatively, the issue could simply be discussed during the fall 2010 review of the Committee on Yale College Education report.