What is a Good Major?

A Faculty Review Committee may also consider the broader role of a major in the project of liberal education.  A “good major”

  1. develops a cognitive “home” from which to begin to interpret the rest of the world – a base of experiences and knowledge, and fluency with an effective vocabulary and methods of interpreting evidence, in relation to which unfamiliar subjects may become meaningful.
  2. develops the capacity for recognizing and interpreting connections, or “for applying learning from one context to another.”
  3. develops the capacity for analyzing evidence and arguments, and interpreting experiences.
  4. develops an understanding of contingencies that condition knowledge, of the origins and histories of ideas and methods.
  5. includes “reflexivity” – the experience of returning to something learned in the past to reexamine it in light of further learning.
  6. includes learning in community, both by situating new knowledge with respect to the expertise of others, and by promoting the role of conversation in the learning process.
  7. cultivates “the capacity for relating academic learning to the wider world, to public issues and personal experience.”
  8. includes a culminating opportunity to synthesize a student’s various experiences in the major.