Plans to create Yale’s version of minors are well under way.
Under a system of “correlated programs,” students will be able to complete a second course of study in addition to their major. Correlated programs will only be offered in certain interdisciplinary areas.
“Correlated programs won’t be on the same level as majors, but they will have a coherent set of intellectual objectives,” said statistics professor John Hartigan, chairman of the Committee on Majors.
Although planning is still in its embryonic stages, Hartigan said these programs will have their own advisors, courses, seminars and supervisory committees.
Anthropology professor and committee member Helen Siu said correlated programs could be extremely beneficial to undergraduates if executed well.
“I think it gives students more options,” Siu said. “[A correlated program] has all the academic and intellectual justifications of a major, but not all the requirements. I think it can be very intellectually stimulating.”
Although the committee has not set a concrete timeline for the project yet, Hartigan said he hopes to introduce the first correlated program, most likely Urban Studies, by next fall.
Cynthia Farrar, director of the Urban Academic Initiatives Office, said that after eight months of discussion, the Urban Studies group finally received permission from Hartigan last week to draft a proposal.
With the hope of making a presentation to the faculty by the end of this semester, Farrar said the Urban Studies group still has substantial planning to do. In addition to defining the requirements for this correlated program, the group must create courses, appoint a director of undergraduate studies, and determine what core ideas students will focus on.
Farrar said the Urban Studies correlated program will involve an application process, much like Cognitive Science or Ethics, Politics and Economics.
Although she would like to have the program running by next fall, Farrar said the group’s top priority is quality.
“There’s never been a correlated program before, so they might use this as a prototype or a pilot program,” Farrar said. “So we want to make sure it’s a good program. If we have to put it off a year, we’ll do that.”
Planning for Urban Studies did not begin with the idea of correlated programs. Two years ago, there was an unsuccessful movement to create an Urban Studies major.
“Most of us feel that Urban Studies is not necessarily a good candidate to be a free-standing major,” architecture professor Alan Plattus said. “It doesn’t have disciplinary status or the full-time commitment of faculty or students.”
Plattus advocated stand-alone major status for Urban Studies two years ago, but said he now is happy with the new plan and is helping to develop the Urban Studies correlated program.
Farrar said Urban Studies has continued to develop its program in the last two years, publishing New Haven guidebooks and offering non-credit colloquiums to juniors and seniors interested in the field.
The creation of correlated programs just happened to intersect with plans for a program in Urban Studies, Plattus said.
“This is a happy coincidence,” Plattus said. “[A correlated program] suits the ideas of where Urban Studies wants to go.”