On Monday, January 9th, faculty passed a motion to offer minors and to eliminate the current structure of concentrations and certificates.
The proposal to offer minors began in the Education and Curriculum Committee (ECC) and then went through two readings by all faculty before being put to a faculty vote.
Professor Bill North, a former member of the ECC, said that it was “not an overwhelmingly close vote, but a close vote. The concerns [from those who voted against the change] remain pretty consistent from last year. There’s a worry about credentialing, expressed by both students and faculty, and concern about how this will affect enrollments in different departments.”
According to professor Greg Marfleet, head of the political science department, when creating minor requirements, the challenge is balancing academic rigor with concerns about creating over enrollment in classes that relate to many different departments. For example, Statistics 215 is a class that many departments require and is often difficult for students to get into.
The decision to create minors will rest with each department, according to North. Departments and programs choosing to propose a minor will submit the proposal to the ECC for review, and the final proposal would be presented to faculty for ultimate approval, he said.
“Concentrations and certificates will be automatically converted,” North said, “although there might be adjustments for requirements,” unless the departments choose to discontinue the concentration.
Students will be able to begin declaring minors once academic departments create new course catalogues. North said “implementation will be depend in part on how departments respond in terms of the actual creations of new minors in each department. I think the change in the characterization of concentrations and certificates to minors may happen for the next catalogue.”
To research minors, the ECC formed a subcommittee in November 2015. The subcommittee looked at peer institutions and completed an on-campus survey of both faculty and students. The response to the survey was overwhelmingly positive with 73 percent of students and 53 percent of faculty saying minors would be a good fit for Carleton, according to ECC minutes.
Prior to last year’s discussions, the college addressed the addition of minors between 1998 and 2000. At that time, the administration decided not to add minors, according to ECC minutes.
Now, it is optional for students to declare a minor. However, there is a no limit to the number of minors a student may declare, and a student cannot use more than half of their major credits to complete their minors.
North said “the cap on credentials was removed, which was part of the initial proposal from last year. There was a concern that in some cases somebody could genuinely accomplish more than that and by putting a cap, it increased the potential for a kind of competition.”
“I’m excited,” said Nora Brown ’19, a member of the ECC. “There seems to be positive feedback on campus.”