LSA Dean Andrew Martin sent out an email to all LSA department chairs last month informing them the LSA Executive Committee has reached the decision to halt the production of new minors housed within LSA and for LSA students at the University of Michigan.
The LSA Curriculum Committee will take time until the end of fall semester 2018 to review the current and existing minors within LSA. Currently, LSA offers 111 minors.
LSA Associate Dean Angela Dillard, who serves as the chair for the LSA CC, said the increasing number of minors in the college was becoming more difficult to navigate.
“The growing number of minors, and the confusion caused by the increasingly complex relationship between and among them (prompted the decision),” Dillard wrote in an email. “Some minors are in separate units but very close to each other in content and focus. There is also a general lack of guidance from the College about the requirements for new and existing minors that seems worthwhile to address.”
Dillard wrote it is also possible some smaller minors may be suspended or re-conceptualized.
Public Policy junior Lauren Schandevel has been working with other students on a new Class and Inequalities Studies minor for about a year and a half. This minor would draw on courses from various departments across campus, but would be potentially housed within the Women’s Studies Department.
Schandevel said the Women’s Studies Department chair reached out to her letting her know of this decision made by the LSA CC.
“We thought initially there’s no use advancing this minor at this point, but I reached out to Angela Dillard,” Schandevel said. “I explained that we had been working on it for a year and a half.”
Next month, Schandevel said the minor will be presented in front of the full Women’s Studies faculty for their approval. With faculty approval, it would go to the LSA CC for approval.
According to the email sent out by Martin, the high number of LSA minors has made Registrar’s Office’s work more complicated.
“Academic majors required multiple layers of review, including accreditation by an external state agency,” Dillard wrote. “Minors do not; they are relatively unregulated.”
Dillard wrote the units sending proposals for new minors in the fall may still do so; however, the process for getting them approved will require considerably more time and consideration.
For certain programs, such as the Entrepreneurship minor, the area of study is offered only through its minor. Jeni Olney, academic program manager for the minor, said the roles minors play for students is unique.
“That’s the value that a minor adds to an undergraduate student experience … You can decide how you want to spend your time in terms of which major, but beyond that, you still have other interests and skills that you want to explore,” Olney said. “So, finding a minor that complements that is really what can enhance a student’s experience.”
Olney said Entrepreneurship is a program that will stay as a minor because it is intended to be applied to other disciplines students are engaged in.
Dillard also wrote the high number of minors has spurred questions about the nature of minors such as whether they should be interdisciplinary or the number of credits they should encompass.
“There is also the question of whether 111 minors is enough or too many,” Dillard wrote. “We’d like to have enough time and space to think through these questions.”
Public Health Junior Faith Reynolds expressed disappointment, stating she thinks academic ingenuity will be limited by this change.
“It’s sad that LSA is considering stopping the creation of new minors because that leaves little room for growth and exploration of new academic horizons for both the students and faculty involved.”