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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Education Studies major proposed for Fall 2008

Published: October 26, 2007
Section: News

A proposal to create an Education Studies major will go before the University faculty for a vote in November, and if approved the major will potentially be introduced for the Fall 2008 semester, according to Prof. Marya Levenson, the Head of the Education Department.

For the major to be created, it would have to successfully pass a vote by the faculty at both the November and December faculty meetings, and be approved by the Board of Trustees. The Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and the Social Science Council have already approved the proposal.

The major will focus on education as a liberal arts study, explained Levenson. When we were thinking about an Education Studies major, we wanted graduates to have a historical and comparative background in education. Currently, Education Studies only exists as a program.

The proposal has received significant support from the student body;

Levenson said that the motivation behind creating the major was partly fueled by student requests, and that she already has had several students inquire about beginning the major next year.

I think now is a very good time [to create a major], said Melissa Gluck 08, who is one of the Education Studies Undergraduate Department Representatives. So many people are minoring, there are enough courses, and with the amount of work we do, and in depth studying, theres no reason it shouldnt be a major.

The Education Studies major would be of great benefit to a liberal arts-minded school such as Brandeis, said Jeremy Heyman 08, an Education Studies minor. It would be a great asset to the University, offering a major combining several disciplines to study a field of great practical importance in today's society.

Kimberlee Bachman 08, who last year was the Junior Representative to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, wrote a letter of support for the education major to the committee which stated that a major is an opportunity to show serious interest and commitment to a subject of study. Right now there is not an outlet to show interest in education studies other than a minor. Students who are part of the Education Studies minor are devoted to it as if it is a major.

The current Education Studies program consists of two separate tracks. The Teacher Education path leads to a teaching certificate, while the Education Studies track does not. Levenson explained that the Education Studies major would not be geared towards certifying Brandeis students as teachers, but, like the current Education Studies minor, will focus on education in society.

Education Studies majors are people interested in policy, and how education functions in a democracy, she said.

The need for reform within the education system in this country is irrefutable, especially because the nation is facing many new challenges as our generation matures, said Etta King 10. Increasing numbers of immigrants, a higher demand for educational choice, and a growing awareness of learning styles and special needs are just a few of these challenges. What the Education Studies major will do is allow Brandeis students to grapple with these issues from an interdisciplinary approach.

Levenson explained that those seeking teacher certification have to major in the content that theyre going to teach, because they have to have a strong basis in liberal arts. We want you to know your content.

It will be possible for students to double major in their content area and Education Studies, but Levenson predicted that there would not be many students who would do this. I think thats why were continuing with the minor.

Gluck, however, feels that some students would try to pair the education major with a second major, in order to receive teaching certification.

Even if people were to major in education, she said, theyd inevitably would have to major in something else [to get certified], but so many people double and triple major and minor anyway.

If I were an underclassman able to benefit from such a major, I would like to pursue it in addition to my Chemistry major, added Heyman. Had the major been available, it would have allowed me to become more immersed into educational research during my undergraduate career, and given me further knowledge and experience in the areas of education that intrigue me.

I think the Education Studies major, along with the Environmental Studies major, is an answer to students' increasing awareness that everything in our world is interconnected, said King. It will no longer serve us to study education, health care, economics, or politics without having a basic understanding of other disciplines. If we are truly going to work for justice and peace now and in the future, we have to start understanding these different subject areas as different parts of the same puzzle. The Education Studies major prepares students to do exactly that.