New major, new minors

The Milky Way, seen from the Atacama Desert in Chile, where UChicago is part of a project to build the Giant Magellan Telescope. (Photography by Carlos Eduardo Fairbairn)

New major, new minors

College students now have six more options.

This academic year the College launched an astrophysics major. Previously, students interested in stars and galaxies majored in physics and took astrophysics courses as electives. The new major includes a central sequence on astronomy and astrophysics, as well as statistics, computer science, observational techniques, and a research placement. Ten students are expected to graduate this year with the new degree.

The College also introduced four new minors: neuroscience, Renaissance studies, media arts and design, and digital studies of language, culture, and history. In addition, the economics major now offers a business economics specialization.

Fourth-year Hannah Trower added a Renaissance studies minor to her majors in Russian and Eastern European studies (REES) and linguistics—even though it’s not immediately apparent how they fit together. “Russia didn’t really have a Renaissance,” she says. “But it was still influenced by Renaissance ideas coming from the West. There are a ton of buildings—churches, government buildings—built by Italian architects all over Russia. I’ve always been fascinated by that dichotomy.”

Third-year Lela Jenkins, who’s interested in graphic design, added the media arts and design (MAAD) minor to her major in art history and her minor in Romance languages and literatures. All MAAD minors must complete a final portfolio of digital media art and analytical essays. “Unlike a lot of my classes,” she says, “popular culture and contemporary media is something that regularly comes up in class discussion.”

Fourth-year Boone Ayala, originally working toward a computer science major, found he was much more passionate about history. But his computer science coursework was helpful, giving him “skills and tools to analyze history that most historians do not possess.” The digital studies of language, culture, and history minor was a perfect fit, combining software skills with humanities research.

Third-year Anna Rose, majoring in economics with a minor in theater and performance studies (TAPS), is pursuing the business economics specialization. The program includes coursework at the Chicago Booth School of Business. “I am really enjoying a course called Building the New Venture,” says Rose, “which is a hands-on entrepreneurship class that teaches the basic principles of starting a company.” She’s also looking forward to taking accounting and behavioral economics at Booth.