Economics Department Offers First Academic Minor
The Educational Policy Committee (EPC) approved a minor in the Economics department on Monday, marking the creation of the University’s first academic minor since the motion to allow them was passed by faculty on Feb. 7.
Professor of Economics Joyce Jacobsen, who also acts as the chair for the EPC, was instrumental in drafting and passing the new academic minor. Before the minor legislation was even passed, she had created a draft of the requirements for a potential minor in economics.
“One of my big projects this year was to create minors more broadly,” Jacobsen said. “I felt since that was something I was trying to do at the University, I should be the first person out the door with a minor.”
The economics minor is composed of six classes: ECON 110, three core courses, and two electives. Acceptance into both the minor and major is dependent upon a minimum course grade.
“In our case, since we have this very hierarchical structure in the major, it makes it clearer what the courses should be,” Jacobsen said. “In that sense, they’re the four main courses which are also the required courses for the major.”
She also believes that the minor gives students more flexibility. If a student is unable to complete all the coursework for the major, they are able to fall back on the minor.
“Similarly, if a student comes in thinking [they want] to do the minor, but then decides they would actually like to do more economics, it’s very simple for them to scale up to the major instead,” Jacobsen said.
If students wish to get into the economics minor, they have to contact the department chair. The chair is responsible for managing the minor declaration process and approving students. The minor is effective immediately; current seniors who have completed the coursework are able to graduate with the economics minor on their transcript after graduation.
“Eventually this whole process will be automated, just as major declaration is online,” Jacobsen added.
The EPC has a set of criteria for accepting minor requests. Jacobsen explained that there are other requirements in addition to specifying the classes that would constitute each minor.
“They would need to convince the committee that there was sufficient staffing to run the minor, [and] they would need to designate who the actual person was in charge of certifying the minor,” Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen said that other departments have begun discussing minors. However, there have been no other formal applications. The EPC recently sent around notes reminding faculty of the procedure for requesting minors, and if they submit requests by May 3, the minors can become effective next fall.
President Michael Roth acknowledged the desire among students at the University for minors.
“I think the students wanted [the option to minor], and the Educational Policy Committee spent a lot of time thinking about it,” he said.
Roth noted that minors could increase a tendency among students to try to get more certifications in different areas and could limit their studies.
“I would have preferred, myself, that they restricted the number of credentials a student could have even further,” Roth said. “I just think the mania for certification is misplaced, but that’s my own prejudice.”
He added that he is hopeful that minors will instead encourage students to broaden their academic scope.
“I think that [minors] won’t hurt, and [they] might help,” Roth said.
In accordance with Roth, Jacobsen said that it is hard to predict the success of the minor offerings.
“I would like to see a large number of minors, but if it turns out that that doesn’t happen, then that would be okay,” Jacobsen said. “I think they will come in areas where the faculty and the students see that they are appropriate to have.”