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Science minors may be offered

By Trudy Liu

Responding to student proposals, MIT formed a committee last Friday that will consider the creation of a minors program within the School of Science.

The Institute Committee on Minors in Science includes representatives from each science department as well as student representatives, and its current plan is to issue a report by mid- to late-spring term on the feasibility and format of a minors program, according to committee chairman Gene M. Brown, former dean of the School of Science.

"The School of Humanities and Social Sciences has already made a minors program possible," Brown said. "A minors program in the School of Science would give students an even greater menu to choose from and enable them to have on record a clear picture of what they did during their undergraduate years," he said.

According to Robert J. Birgeneau, current dean of the School of Science, a minors program would enable students to receive formal credit for work done outside their majors, provide guidance for non-majors through advisers in minor fields of study and enable the school to pay more attention to the needs of non-majors.

Barbara C. Manganis '95, who along with Christie L. Halle '94 approached Birgeneau about the idea of science minors, was surprised that the idea was so well received. "Christie and I went to Birgeneau less than three weeks before the meeting. We talked to him and he liked the idea. He asked us to draft a proposal," she said.

"We weren't sure how receptive he would be, but he turned out to be very receptive. We were thrilled, to say the least," Manganis said.

Minors program to

ease student stress

Manganis said she was interested in science minors because she was planning to double major but worried that it would be too much work. "I'm thinking about double-majoring in aero-astro and physics, but it would make my life a lot easier if I could minor in physics instead," she said.

"Clearly, the minors program would appeal to students who would like to double major but find it stressful," Brown said. "It might be an overload to double major, but not to have a major and a minor, because students who minor in a certain discipline are not required to take as many subjects as are required for majors," he said.

"A minors program is certainly an idea worth exploring -- many students at the Institute would like to have a minor in a science department and receive formal credit for it. It would be an ideal compromise and a good alternative to double majoring, which puts tremendous pressure on students," Birgeneau said.

Brown said that if all goes well, students will have the option to minor in any of the five departments in the School of Science, including biology, chemistry, earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, mathematics and physics. Although the committee is not certain if or when the program will be implemented, Birgeneau said it is unlikely that students will be able to minor in a science department before fall 1993.

"Our main goal is to try to improve the educational environment for the undergraduate," Birgeneau said. "However, we don't want to increase the pace and pressure problem. We just want to offer an option which will make student life more enjoyable, not to put more pressure on students," he said.

Brown agreed, saying that "having a minor should not be mandatory -- students have too much to do already. This program is intended to provide students with more opportunities to choose from," he said.