These Academic Designations They Are A-Changin’
Written by Bwog Staff
The Department of Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) is now the only-slightly-less pronounceable Department of Middle East, South Asian and African Studies (MESAAS). The name changes comes with the addition of African Studies to the larger, interdisciplinary department.
The Earth Institute announced a new undergraduate major in Sustainable Development. Previously students studying Sustainable Development were limited to a “special concentration.” The major is very similar to the concentration, which will still be an option for students, only it has more classes.
Finally, the History department has also made several slight changes to their undergraduate major, most significantly the removal of the four categories in the breadth requirement. The full set of new requirement can be seen in all their esoteric glory after the jump.
Requirements for the Major/Concentration
The requirements of the undergraduate program encourage students to do two things: develop a deeper knowledge of the history of a particular time and/or place and to take a broad range of courses to gain a sense of the full scope of history as a discipline. Students are required to choose and complete a “specialization” — that is, a set of courses in a specific field, theme, or subject. Students must also fulfill a breadth requirement by taking courses outside of the field within which their specialization falls.
The historical fields in which the department offers classes include, but are not limited to:
- Ancient history
- Medieval history
- Early Modern European history
- Modern European history
- United States history
- Latin American and Caribbean history
- Middle Eastern history
- African history
- East Asian history
- South Asian history
Additionally, we offer classes in thematic and cross-regional fields which include, but are not limited to:
- Intellectual history
- Jewish history
- Women’s history
These fields are only examples. Students should work with a member of UNDED to craft a specialization on the theme or field that most interests them.
Majors are required to complete at least 13 credits in their area of specialization and concentrators must complete at least 9 credits.
Both majors and concentrators must also fulfill a breadth requirement by taking courses outside of their own specialization. Majors must take 3 breadth courses and concentrators must take 2. The breadth requirement itself has two parts, time and space.
Time: Both majors and concentrators must take at least one course specifically covering a time period far removed from that of their specialization. Students specializing in the modern period must take one course in the pre-modern period (before 1750) and students specializing in a pre-modern field must take at least one course in the modern period. Pre-modern courses cover a wide range of geographic fields, but the course used for the chronological breadth requirement should either be in a geographic region different from your specialization or else in a drastically different time period. A student specializing, therefore, in Modern European history could not take a course in Early Modern European history for the pre-modern requirement and would need to take something which was further removed, like Ancient Greek history or early Chinese history.
Space: Majors must take at least two additional courses in a regional field or fields not their own. At least one of these courses must cover an area of the world on the opposite hemisphere. A student specializing in Europe, the US, or Latin America/Caribbean, therefore, must take one of their breadth courses in either Asia, the Middle East, or Africa, and vice versa. Concentrators must take one geographic breadth course. Some courses cover multiple geographic regions. If one of the regions covered by the class is the one covered by the specialization, the course cannot count towards the breadth requirement unless it is specifically approved by the DUS. For example, if a student is specializing in “20th Century US History” and takes the class “World War II in History and Memory,” the class is too close to the specialization and may not be counted, for example, as a breadth course in East Asian history.
Students with thematic or cross-regional specializations will have their breadth requirements set in consultation with a member of UNDED.
Seminar Requirement (MAJORS ONLY): Majors in history must also complete a seminar requirement by taking two 4000-level seminars. At least one of these curses must be in the student’s specialization. Seminars must be completed at either Columbia or Barnard; seminars taken abroad or at other universities may count towards the overall number of credits, but NOT towards the seminar requirement. Undergraduate seminars are filled by advanced application.
Senior Thesis: History majors have the option of of writing a senior thesis. The Department encourages students with strong interest in a particular subject to consider a thesis and strongly advises all students considering an academic career to write one. Although it involves a considerable amount of work, many students find the senior thesis the most rewarding academic experience of their undergraduate career. A thesis is required–but not sufficient–for a student to receive departmental honors. Theses are typically written in one of the year-long senior thesis seminars, but writing independently with an advisor may be allowed. The senior thesis seminar counts for 8 points, but only one of the two required seminars.
Historiography requirement (THESIS WRITERS ONLY): Before writing a senior thesis, it is required that a student take HIST W2901 Historical Theories and Methods (formerly, “Introduction to History”) in the spring of his/her junior year. Students who expect to be studying abroad in that semester must take HIST W4900 The Historian’s Craft in the fall of junior year as an alternative.
Plan of Study Form: All majors and concentrators must complete a Plan of Study form in the fall term of BOTH the junior and the senior years. Attached is a new Plan of Study form reflecting the changes to the major. Incoming juniors should use this form, and the new guidelines, to organize their courses. Incoming seniors will have the choice in the fall term of staying with the old requirements or switching to the new ones. You will receive more information on that in the fall.
Categorization of courses: As always, I will post lists on our website each term with the courses which you may count towards your major. Instead of indicating into which group they fall, each class will have one or more of the following codes to let you know what fields they cover:
- ANC — Ancient history
- MED — Medieval history
- EME — Early Modern European history
- MEU — Modern European history
- US — United States history
- LAC — Latin American and Caribbean history
- ME — Middle Eastern history
- AFR — African history
- EA — East Asian history
- SA — South Asian history
All pre-modern classes will be marked with an *. All other classes are considered Modern Era classes.