As an undergraduate at Northwestern I tried to create my own music industry major. Because the courses I needed to complete would cross the music, business, and arts and sciences colleges I was prohibited from doing this. What the hell is the point of a University under one umbrella if you can’t combine majors across the schools?!?
I’ll take it a step further: I think that all students should be encouraged or required to combine two majors of their choosing as a graduation requirement.
- Biology + Architecture.
- Economics + Philosophy.
- Electrical Engineering + Art History.
- Physics + Religion.
- Chemical Engineering + Communication.
- English + Math.
Literally any combination makes the student more interesting, marketable, and forced to cross-pollinate ideas from different disciplines. I have seen a few instances where faculty from different departments do joint research together, launch joint scholarships, or offer some co-taught courses; they always seem fascinating. Even if I’m not wildly interested in either discipline on their own, the combination always makes me curious to learn more.
I understand that this combination-degree proposal would make university staffing, job fairs, and graduate placements more confusing. The biggest change, however, would be reserved for academic advisors - instead of preventing students from weaving across colleges and combining their interests they’d be tasked with ensuring they can connect students to other departments, professors, and courses to explore what that other field might be.
I believe pre-med, economics, and traditional tracks will still be emphasized but that the combination major will add additional color and talking points to any graduate. As someone who has looked at hundreds of resumes and hired dozens of people I’m always looking for unique backgrounds that could add value for my business.
This is one application of the theory of intersections I’ve been thinking about this year, the idea that the most interesting things happen at the intersection of previously separate fields.