Minors Only (Part 1 of 2)

This week The Quadrangle is featuring programs that are offered exclusively as minors at Manhattan College.

Women and Gender Studies

By: Kieran Rock, Asst. Features Editor

Manhattan College was once a school only for men. In 1973, MC accepted its first female undergrads and women now comprise almost half of the full-time student body, according to the college’s website.

Our campus has felt the change since 1973, and women and further women’s studies are now a centerpiece to the MC community. Originally “a cluster,” women and gender studies became a minor at Manhattan College within the last eight years, according to Bridget Chalk, Ph.D., and director of the minor on campus.

“I think this interdisciplinary minor is important because it facilitates awareness of the ways in which gender, ostensibly something ‘natural’ is constructed, enforced and performed in our world,” Chalk said.

Photo by James O'Connor.
Photo by James O’Connor.

Some of the classes students who choose to partake in the women and gender studies minor will take include:

-A religion course: Sexuality and the Sacred
-English courses: Literature by Women or Gender and Literature
-A sociology course: Codes of Gender
-A history course: European Women to 1500

“The ultimate goal of a women and gender studies student, I would think, is to gain and put to use knowledge of ways in which narrowly conceived ideas about gender and sexuality have been used historically and, perhaps even more crucially, continue to be used today, as modes of oppression,” Chalk said.

Chalk says she thinks the number of current women and gender studies minors is too low. “One issue is that once students begin to be interested in ideas concerning gender and women in society, they are more advanced in coursework, and don’t have room in their electives.”

Due to this, Chalk is working to spread the awareness of the minor to freshmen and sophomores, and not focusing on establishing a women and gender studies major in the immediate future. Another reason for this is that college majors have become “narrowly vocational and so we are more focused now on building  the minor in curricular terms and spreading awareness of important issues like campus sexual assault, workplace discrimination and the problems of gender in urban space among our students.”


Environmental Studies

By: Michelle DePinho, News/Managing Editor

When junior Delaney Higgins spent last summer growing and caring for produce in the college’s rooftop garden internship, she knew she wanted to pursue an environmental studies minor.

“That just kind of kick-started me into the whole environmental studies minor thing,” she said.

The environmental studies minor is a small but growing group of students interested in the politics, science and social implications of the environment. Only two classes – Environmental Politics and a science course – are required, while the rest of the courses are left up to the student to choose. Students can select from classes in religion, science, philosophy and English to fulfill the minor.

Photo by James O'Connor
Photo by James O’Connor

“It’s truly interdisciplinary in that it transcends even some of the usual boundaries between the sciences and the social sciences and humanities,” Jeffrey Myers, Ph.D. and director of the minor, said.

That aspect of the minor draws in students, like Higgins, from a variety of academic backgrounds.

“I wasn’t really thinking about getting a minor in environmental studies,” senior Lydia Wehrli said of her choice to participate in the minor. As a biology major, she said the environmentally focused classes have fit in well with what she is studying from a scientific standpoint.

Both Higgins and Wehrli also attended the climate march held last month with their environmental studies class.

“It shows how much the climate affects everyone and it was nice that our professor worked that into our lesson plan so that it was like we were a part of history,” Higgins said.

Higgins and some fellow environmental studies minors also worked on the campus rooftop garden last summer in an internship that focused on practical skills and outreach. She is also working on getting an urban farmers’ club assembled on campus that can care for the garden year-round.

Myers said this outreach is just a part of what environmental studies minors are doing. Some recent graduates have made this environmental activism their full time jobs.

“We have graduated a number of students in the minor,” he said. “A couple of students are working in environmental fields either as activists or for non-profit organizations.”  One of these organizations is Groundwork Hudson Valley, the group that organizes the same farmers market the interns sold produce at.

In the meantime, Myers is working on getting an environmental studies major approved.

“Right now, it’s provisional,” he said. “I can’t promise that it’s going to happen, but if we’re able to get approval then we are going to attempt to launch an environmental studies major.”


Catholic Studies

By: Jessica Risolo, Guest Writer

As a college centered in the Lasallian Catholic tradition, it is no surprise that a minor in Catholic Studies has established itself on campus. Created in 2012, the minor is focused on allowing students to understand Catholic culture through various learning experiences inside the classroom and out.

Similar to other minors on campus, the Catholic Studies minor requires 15 interdisciplinary credits in subjects such as religion, art, music, history, literature and philosophy.

“[The minor] is a good place for students to think creatively about the way that religion functions in everyday life,” Natalia Imperatori-Lee, Ph.D. and program coordinator, said. Imperatori-Lee shared her thoughts on the misconceptions about the minor as well as the benefit of studying Catholic Studies. “I think many students do not understand the complexity and variety of Catholicism.”

Photo by James O'Connor.
Photo by James O’Connor.

While the minor is small with only about five students declared, it is still new growing in the hopes of expanding to a major someday in the distant future. Since Manhattan requires all students to take three religion classes, one being a 200 level class in Catholicism, “Most students are on their way to a Catholic Studies minor,” Dr. Imperatori-Lee said.

The program’s influence is not limited solely to the classroom.  Courses such as Lois Harr’s Urban America and Catholic Social Teaching encourage students to put religious theory into practice as the class is community service based.

“People take the class wanting to do good in their community which is important particularly in a Lasallian school that places emphasis on faith, service and community,” Harr said.

In the spring 2015 semester, the department will be sponsoring an event focused on nuns who aid people escaping human trafficking. Additionally, the department sponsors dorm chats in which faculty and students meet in a residence hall to discuss topics or classes in Catholic studies as well as issues related to the religion.


Medieval Studies

By: Lindsey Burns, Staff Writer

A relatively new minor offered at Manhattan College, medieval studies has its roots spread throughout the entire School of Arts. When it officially became a minor in the fall of 2010, most of the required courses had actually been offered for years before that.

“Most of the minor’s courses have been offered for much longer,” Jennifer Edwards, Ph.D. and the program’s coordinator, said. “In fact, the minor began in recognition of the existing richness of medieval offerings across many departments in the school.”

Photo by Lindsey Burns
Photo by Lindsey Burns

As a historian of the European Middle Ages, Edwards exhibits an enthusiasm for the time period, and wishes to share this enthusiasm with her students.

“I wanted to increase the critical engagement with medieval literature, art, history, philosophy, religious studies and languages in the school and on campus,” Edwards said.

There is still a modern importance to medieval studies, as much of today’s culture revolves around ideas that started during the Middle Ages.

“Crucial movements and institutions began during the Middle Ages such as the university, the church, the papacy, the nation and even the notion of an individual ‘self,’” Edwards said.

In order to minor in Medieval Studies, students must take 15 credits, three of which much come from the course LLRN 107: Medieval Origins of Western Culture. After that, students can choose nine credits from a list of courses, which create a “medieval ‘core’ experience,” according to Edwards. These courses include: ART 321, ENGL 342, HIST 304, RELS 245 and PHIL 315. The remaining course can be chosen from the above “core” list or from a more extensive list in the course catalog.

Interest in the minor will have to increase in order for Medieval Studies to expand to a major.

“I wish medieval studies was a major,” John Evans, an English major and prospective Medieval Studies minor, said. “I have seen an enthusiasm for the Middle Ages in my peers that I have seldom seen before and would ardently desire to see that passion satisfied by a full medieval studies major.”