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Tuesday, Oct. 3
The Indiana Daily Student


Strategic Plan might bring new, interdisciplinary majors

New majors and minors are likely in the near future for IU.

The provost’s Strategic Plan is seeking to make interdisciplinary education more accessible with the creation of unique academic programs.

Interim Vice Provost for Education Dennis Groth said students seek to enhance their undergraduate experience by pursuing second majors, minors and certificates.
“I’m looking at ways that we can investigate the paths that our students have already taken,” he said.

In the process of creating interdisciplinary majors and programs, Groth said he has begun to look at data that shows the most popular major and minor combinations.

“I would hope that it would identify either the potential for new joint majors, or just the potential for new services and programs to help students be aware,” he said.

Jonathan Elmer is a professor of English and chair of the committee for integrated programs in humanities and arts for the Strategic Plan.

He said the model upon which the College of Arts and Sciences is founded is essentially a model of interdisciplinary learning.

“The idea behind it is simple,” he said. “Learn a lot about a few things, but some about a lot of things.”

The initiative Elmer is part of in the Strategic Plan seeks to incorporated this model to the entire campus, he said.

Larry Singell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said he sees a demand for it.
“Much of interesting and important problems and the skills to solve these problems sit at the border of disciplines,” he said.

Singell said both the Media School and the School of Global and International Studies are examples of an effort to provide students with necessary skills by taking a more interdisciplinary approach.

Currently, Groth is working to aggregate data he can send on to individual academic units.

“Some programs already build a type of interdisciplinary thinking,” he said.

He pointed out that units such as the School of Journalism require students to gain at least a concentration in something outside their major.

Groth said he is hopeful that once the data is collected, the initiative can work to create intellectual diversity and make students more aware of interdisciplinary options.
One way of doing this would be providing students in each major a list of the top five ranked second majors or minors, he said.

Still, Groth said the initiative to create these new majors and programs is very much in the conversation stage.

“Everybody would love it today,” he said. “I would too, but we know the reality on these is that we have to take and approach that helps up to be successful in the long-run.”

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