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Course XXI to designate majors on its diplomas

By Annabelle Boyd

In order to better recognize the strength of MIT's undergraduate education in the humanities, Course XXI majors are now able to obtain a degree which registers their specific designation in the Department of Humanities, according to Ikey Spear, coordinator of the Humanities, Arts and Social Science Office. In the past, all diplomas granted in Course XXI have read "Bachelor of Science in Humanities" thereby failing to note the sectional designation of a student.

Seven sections within Course XXI have been changed to the specific designations of Anthropology/Archaeology, History, Literature, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Music, Science, Technology and Society (STS), and Writing. The major in STS may only be pursued as a joint program in conjunction with another degree program in a field of engineering or science. For the Foreign Languages and Literatures degree, only those students studying French or Spanish are eligible.

The primary impetus behind this change was one of "housekeeping," according to the Degree Designation Proposal, which was voted on by the faculty last spring. With the introduction of the HASS minor in a specific field of study, it became "appropriate" to ask that a major in a specific field in Course XXI receive the designation of that field on his diploma, instead of the generic "Humanities," the proposal states.

The new policy does not include a change in designation for joint majors in Humanities (Courses XXI-E and XXI-S), but is confined to full majors offered under Course XXI alone.

According to the Degree Designation Proposal, each of the seven degree designations had to meet the following five considerations before being passed by the faculty:

O+ The level of competence signified by the award of the proposed degree had to be equivalent to that signified by the award of other degrees in identical or closely related fields at other institutions of higher learning around the country.

O+ The degree had to follow the guidelines laid down by the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty, as set forth by section 2.83 (revised to Sept. 1987).

O+ The degree awarded had to be consonant in structure and depth of curriculum with other undergraduate degrees awarded by the School of Humanities and Social Science.

O+ The designated section had to offer a sufficient number of subjects at every level of instruction over the next five years to make likely a reasonable array of choices among restricted electives.

O+ The designated section had to have sufficient personnel and funds to staff the major.

Since not all sections within Course XXI are receiving designations, the generic "Humanities" degree will remain a residual category for those unspecified majors.

According to the proposal, "the [new degree designations] are entirely consistent with the increasing autonomy and professional strength of the fields within the humanities at MIT."