LSA launches new minors for Winter 2015

By Carly Noah, Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 1, 2015

From programs focused on language and culture to art and entrepreneurship, the College of Literature Science and Arts is offering five new minors beginning this semester.

Three of these are completely new and offered in LSA: Yiddish Studies, Arab and Muslim American Culture, and Intergroup Relations Education. The other two — Art and Design and Entrepreneurship — were not formerly available to LSA students, but have been officially incorporated into the LSA curriculum.

JoAnn Peraino, LSA curriculum and enrollment manager, said the qualifications for creating a new minor are often based student interest, though multiple departments cannot offer the same minor.

Peraino added that once a minor has been created within a department, the department is responsible for overseeing that the minor is attracting student interest.

“If a minor doesn’t seem to be taking off or one that has been in existence for a while begins to lose interest, we may retire minors,” she said. “But they typically stay on the books for a long, long time. We haven’t retired any in a long time because all of our minors have at least a few students in them.”

Intergroup Relations Education

The minor in Intergroup Relations Education focuses on creating discussions around issues of social identity, inequality and discrimination.

The minor, which is a minimum of 19 credits and a maximum of 22, begins with students enrolling in two core courses: Intergroup Dialogues and Foundations of Intergroup Relations.

Following those classes, students must choose one of two tracks — either the Facilitative Leadership track or the Campus Communities and Research track. Students also elect one elective LSA course that is related to intergroup relations and complete the capstone course in intergroup relations.

Kelly Maxwell, IGR co-director, said the Intergroup Relations Department celebrated its 25th year in 2013.

“Last year our campus really began talking about issues of inclusion and became more involved with student activism,” Maxwell said. “It made us realize that it’s time to formalize the minor.”

Last year, members of the University’s Black Student Union lobbied administrators to address a series of demands designed to address stagnant minority enrollment and campus climate, among other issues.

In November, the University announced two of the IGR courses would also fulfill the Race and Ethnicity degree requirement.

Maxwell added that IGR is a valuable addition to any major, especially given her belief that students must become global citizens who know how to discuss complex issues pertaining to diversity and inequality.

“Students who earn a minor in intergroup relations education will develop the insight and skills to lead diverse organizations and work effectively across differences,” she said.

Yiddish Studies

The Yiddish Studies minor was introduced in an effort to provide students with extensive opportunities to study the Yiddish language and explore Yiddish culture from a perspective of a variety of disciplines.

Students interested in the minor must take Elementary Yiddish. Yiddish Lecturer Alexandra Hoffman said the language prerequisite is necessary to give students basic competence in reading, writing and communicating in the Yiddish language.

Hoffman added that the minor was created to showcase the expertise of the University’s Yiddish studies faculty, and to raise awareness about the language.

“Just like any language, Yiddish is a whole treasure chest to rich literature, music, poetry, novels and history,” she said. “Michigan is really a hub of pretty fantastic and exceptional Yiddish studies professors. We have three levels of Yiddish language instruction here, which is unique.”

Arab and Muslim American Culture

The Arab and Muslim American Culture minor is designed to address the cultural politics of being Arab or Muslim in the U.S., as well as the contributions of these groups to American Culture.

To complete the minor, which requires a 15-credit minimum, students take an introductory survey course in either Intro to Arab American Studies or The Middle East in Hollywood Cinema. Students then select additional courses offered by the Arab and Muslim American Studies program.

Evelyn Alsultany, associate professor of American culture, wrote in an e-mail interview that the AMAS minor is unique to the University, the University of Michigan — Dearborn campus and San Francisco State University.

“We see the AMAS minor as a unique and important opportunity for students given the large demographic of Arab Americans and Muslim Americans in Michigan and the current challenges to understanding Arab and Muslim identities in today's political climate,” Alsultany wrote.

She said students have already started declaring minors in AMAS, and some of whom have told her the program offers them the skills to develop a more complex analysis of today’s social and political issues, such as the “war on terror” and its representation in the media.

Art and Design

The Art and Design minor, offered through the School of Art and Design, is expected to have significant enrollment.

JoAnn McDaniel, assistant dean for undergraduate programs in the Art and Design School, said she foresees the minor will be limited by the amount of space that the school’s facilities offer.

“You can’t put 25 students into a studio class that is capped at 20 and works best for 16,” she said. “If you’re in a lecture class, you could just bring in some more chairs.”

The minor is an 18-credit program. There is one prerequisite course, which can be a choice of a drawing course or a dimensional course, which can be fulfilled by several 2D and 3D studio classes.

McDaniel said she hopes the minor program will be similar to the art major in that students can individualize their schedule to create a minor that works for them.

“For instance, a student who is in environmental studies and really interested in sustainability, they can do a minor in art and design with an emphasis on sustainability design,” McDaniel said. “If you were a creative writing student, you may find taking courses in graphic narrative and electronic books can really broaden and deepen the scope of that minor.”

Entrepreneurship

The minor in Entrepreneurship, offered through the Innovate Blue program, aims to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in the classroom through partnerships with businesses and local organizations.

The minor is a 15-credit program available to any sophomore-standing student with a declared major who is in good academic standing.

In addition to the 15-credit requirement, the minor also requires two semesters of substantial entrepreneurship focus through extracurricular activities.

The minor comprises six core credits that will establish fundamental knowledge in creativity, innovation and business disciplines.

Beyond those requirements, students will take a minimum three credits of elective courses that allow students to explore disciplinary areas in depth.

The final portion of the minor is a 6-credit immersion program. The “practicum” section of the minor gives students the opportunity to experience real-world learning in front of a large audience.

Jeni Olney, Innovate Blue’s academic advisor, said the creation of the minor was a grassroots movement by students who wanted an entrepreneurship curriculum on their transcript.

“What’s really great about the minor is that we have the ability to pull from the multidisciplinary strengths from the University,” Olney said. “It’s really exciting because the minor isn’t getting turned down by any of the schools or colleges at the University because they see the value of the minor.”