Yale College will not offer academic minors any time soon, following a Faculty of Arts and Sciences vote against a proposal to create a pilot minors program.
University President Richard Levin, Provost Peter Salovey and about 100 faculty members packed into Connecticut Hall on Thursday afternoon, where they spent an hour discussing the Committee on Majors’ Jan. 21 report recommending against minors, Yale College Dean Mary Miller said, adding that she could not disclose details of the discussion. A faculty member then moved to vote on the creation of a committee for the pilot program, and the motion was defeated, Miller said.
Still, the FAS vote does not necessarily mark the end of deliberations on minors. In fall 2010, several faculty committees will convene to review the impact of the new distributional requirements and other curricular changes that resulted from the Committee on Yale College Education’s 2003 report. Miller said she will ensure that one of these committees researches academic minors and secondary concentrations so that the Committee on Majors can resume its usual work of reviewing academic majors.
“[Minors are] not a principal agenda that I want the Committee on Majors to address next year,” Miller said, adding, “We never, of course, know what a committee might do two or three years from now.”
In its report, the Committee on Majors summarized almost three years’ worth of research on minors programs at other Ivy League schools, as well as interviews with directors of undergraduate study and department chairs. The committee considered the Yale College Council’s February 2009 report in favor of minors, but ultimately decided that minors were inconsistent with Yale College’s educational goals because they might encourage overspecialization and overextend already crowded departments.
In addition, the report said a minors program could interfere with the upcoming CYCE review of curricular changes made since 2005. Alternatives such as certificates in language, literature and culture were not ruled out, and Miller said the committees investigating minors in the upcoming review will also examine these options.
Christine Saffold ’11, a psychology major interested in behavioral economics, said she is disappointed by the faculty’s vote against minors.
“It’s really frustrating that they wouldn’t even do a pilot program,” Saffold said. “I would like to know more about why they made the decision and if they were getting student input about it.”
Before Thursday’s meeting, 10 of 12 students interviewed said they think the College should offer minors. Of those 10, six said they would declare a minor if they had the option.
Glorili Alejandro ’13 said that, given her dual interest in chemistry and the arts, a minor would allow her to study a subject in which she might not pursue a career.
Andrew Carter ’10 said he briefly considered double majoring in history and psychology but decided against it, choosing to focus on history instead.
“Is there any difference between a minor and taking a bunch of classes you’re interested in?” he asked.
Tiffany Mason ’10 said she is indifferent toward minors. She added that students can concentrate in a specific subject within a major, which she said serves the same purpose as a minor. Mason, who is concentrating in health politics and policy within the political science major, said she understands why some students want minors.
“Sometimes it’s hard to put yourself in just one category,” Mason said.
Yale and Brown University are the only two Ivy League schools that do not offer minors or secondary concentrations.