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Re-imagining the academic major

February 19, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Happily retired, as far as I can tell, colleague Ellen Maher recently noted this: “I look back at some of my sociology syllabi and wonder whether some of the disciplinary sacred cows might not have been better left slaughtered in grad school.”

We were chatting on Facebook at the time. My reply: “Ellen, I think you are onto something. Do we tend to teach undergraduates as if they were going to get MA degrees and MA students as if they were going to get doctoral degrees, when there might be very interesting versions of our majors that are for people not headed down that particular path? This has to be true for English, my field, where we are entrusted with two of the great wonders of human society, language and literature, both of which enrich and ennoble and enable much in our lives besides that narrow path to the doctorate. Surely there must be a dazzlingly interesting BA degree in English that is not a warm-up for the MA and then the Ph.D. I suspect that with all their interest in creative writing majors and minors our students are trying to tell us the very same thing.

  1. February 20, 2012 at 7:25 am

    I think the university should train minds to think freely.
    Today, with new technologies, we have access to information in a few seconds, it is important that students learn to use that information ethically, classes where students listened to teachers for hours, should give way to classes where students and teachers to express themselves guide the conversation.

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