A few weeks ago, I discovered that I would have to drop my journalism concentration. After numerous mock schedules, drafts of two-year graduation plans and hours spent thumbing through the Bulletin, I had to acknowledge that it simply wasn’t possible to finish the Core, fulfill music scholarship requirements, double major and concentrate within two years and remain within the confines of 18 credits per semester.
I was disappointed and upset, desperately searching for a loophole that would permit at least one, or maybe even two extra classes. Yet when I finally conceded defeat, I found myself questioning the merit of concentrations. What’s the big deal?, I thought. I’ll still graduate with a double major and plenty of journalistic experience. I don’t need a concentration in journalism to be a journalist in the real world.
So, why are concentrations important? What, if anything, do they add to a student’s education?
Concentrations are valuable not only in terms of the knowledge they impart, but also in their ability to broaden the human experience for students.
A concentration allows students to explore disciplines beyond their majors. Most students are active in clubs related to their major, pursue opportunities in the same area as their major and find friends through their majors due to shared interests and classes.
Taking additional classes for a concentration increases exposure to different schools of thought and provides more opportunities for friendship and organizations with which they can become involved. Such occurrences are healthy, as they increase school unity, break barriers between majors and friend groups and diversify individual thought.
In pursuing various interests, students participate more holistically in the liberal arts. Rather than restricting themselves to the prescriptions of one field, they open their minds, forming interdisciplinary connections and distinctions.
Students at the University of Dallas have the option of concentrating in a myriad of disciplines, from the usual Spanish or American politics to those more tailored to the UD student, like philosophy of science.
However, students cannot concentrate in theology or English, two of the university’s most celebrated and popular majors.
Similar to politics and philosophy, the theology department offers two alternatives to the major: those wishing to concentrate in theology have the choice to opt for Jewish Studies or the Christian Contemplative Tradition.
However, according to Dr. Ron Rombs of the Theology department, a new theology concentration is in development, pending approval from the Constantin curriculum committee and faculty senate.
Yet no such option exists for a bibliophile such as myself. The English major has no alternative for those desiring to continue their study of literature beyond the Literary Tradition courses but who are unable to major.
While I could not personally enjoy the introduction of an English concentration due to my previously mentioned scheduling conflicts, I believe that the university community would benefit from its development.
I’m currently auditing Literary Tradition IV and am considering auditing another English course next semester. Due to credit limits, I’m not able to take the courses for credit, but I find myself so enthralled with literature that I am voluntarily adding more reading to my already challenging schedule.
In order to develop a concentration, the English department should consider why required classes are deemed “required.” Is it possible to appreciate and study Western literature without an extensive Junior Poet or Senior Novel project? What are the most important and diverse elements of the major?
Some may argue that Junior Poet and Senior Novel are essential to the study of English at UD — and they may be right. Perhaps a sort of mid-level, less intense equivalent could be developed in order to round out the curriculum.
The lack of an English concentration is a gap in the University’s curriculum which ought to be rectified. It denies many students the opportunity to pursue a relationship with literature awakened by the Literary Tradition sequence and delve deeper into the history of Western thought and tradition, the essence of UD.