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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Concentrations, not a minor issue

<t a Carleton student can concentrate in French but not Spanish? In neuroscience but not geology?

A concentration at Carleton is meant to be an “integrated, interdisciplinary program which students may elect in addition to a major.”

The purpose of a concentration is to “bridge divisions necessarily created by a disciplinary focus and may promote communities of learning.” Yet by this standard, Carleton fails to sufficiently fulfill the needs of its students. Currently, students may concentrate in one of sixteen areas, ranging from Archaeology to South Asian Studies. However there seem to be gaping holes within the program of concentrations.

The policies of similarly sized liberal arts colleges vary. Middlebury offers minors in many majors such as Biology, Religion and English. Grinnell, on the other hand, offers twelve concentrations, only one of which is also a major.

We understand that the financial limits set on departments as well as the time constraints on faculty and staff means that not all majors can offer a concentration. However, which majors do end up offering a concentration seems arbitrary.

There are only four majors that are also concentrations: African/American Studies, Environmental and Technology Studies, Latin American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies. Two years ago, when Cinema and Media Studies became a major, it was no longer available as a concentration. Just this past year, Environmental and Technology Studies became the college’s newest major. Yet, at least at this point in time, it is still offered as a concentration.

For many students, the answer to this lack of options is a double major. However double-majoring is an important decision, one that should not be made at random, as it requires great dedication to both fields of study and a commitment to the extra work and time that completing both majors will involve. Students should not have to choose between a double major and sacrificing an academic subject about which they are passionate.

Students always have the option, and are advised to, take classes that interest them even if they are not pursuing a degree in the subject. Nonetheless, it is a satisfying process: building up a repertoire of knowledge, accumulating in a degree acknowledged on your transcript.

What would it take for every major to also offer and concentration? Is it the financial burden, the administrative work, or the extra time in advising hours? Perhaps concentrations seem arbitrary and unsatisfactory to us because we do not understand the factors that go into the decision making process of how an academic area becomes a concentration. Carleton should reexamine the purpose of a concentration. We think it is and will continue to be an important dialogue in maintaining the distinguished education that Carleton offers.

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