By: Avi Strauss | News  | 

Yeshiva College Faculty to Vote on Allowing Shaped Majors

A faculty vote is set to take place on whether to allow students to major in a shaped major in Yeshiva College. The vote, confirmed by Dr. Karen Bacon, The Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences, is at the top of the agenda for an upcoming faculty meeting on Tuesday, March 6.

Per faculty voting guidelines, only tenured professors will be permitted to cast ballots, in a vote that will take place electronically.

Shaped majors are already permitted at Stern College for Women, where 41 students are currently majoring in shaped majors. According to Dean Bacon, the bulk of those majors study various disciplines within Art, or are on a nursing track in a combined program with NYU.

According to YU’s website, a shaped major is a major “specialized to meet certain academic goals.” Generally it involves a combination of courses from different departments as part of an interdisciplinary pursuit.

In a meeting with The Commentator, Dean Bacon mentioned she believes shaped majors give students more flexibility and opportunity to explore areas of academic interest. She added that when a large enough number of students seek a specific shaped major, the university might elect to formalize that area of study, as was the case with Biochemistry, which began as a shaped major at Beren and is now available to students on both the Wilf and Beren campuses.

Seeing significant student interest in a discipline without an approved YC major is key for the Dean’s office, because they must file paperwork with state regulators before any new major is formally approved. This paperwork wouldn’t be submitted if the Dean’s office didn’t expect significant interest in a specific new major.

Should the proposal to feature shaped majors in Yeshiva College pass, students who wish to pursue a shaped major will be required to compile a list of courses they believe composes a viable field of study and submit a proposal to YC faculty.

For example, a student interested in majoring in American Public Policy might compile a course list that would include political science offerings like Introduction to American Public Policy and American Constitutional Law, sociology courses like Politics and Poverty and Epidemiology, and Human Behavior and Social Institutions (HBSI) courses like Economics Efficiency and Justice and Psychology and Public Opinion.

That proposed course load would then have to be approved by an academic advisor in consultation with YC faculty and the registrar’s office.

Several YC faculty did not respond to requests for a comment on the upcoming vote or on the notion of having shaped majors.

“I am very excited at the possibility of shaped majors on campus. I’ve been talking to the deans about it the last two years” said Yeshiva College Junior Michael Kohan, who is interested in majoring in health administration, which is not currently offered in Yeshiva College. “I think it’s definitely something that could benefit students.” For now, Kohan has taken courses within the public health minor track, which includes biology and political science courses.

Yeshiva Student Union Vice President of Clubs Tai Miller, who would have majored in Public Health if shaped majors were permitted, shared Kohan’s sentiment. “I think the initiative is an incredible opportunity for students to pursue their varied academic interests...I’m excited that the faculty will vote on it.”