Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Interdisciplinary Majors

Prospective students are typically familiar with the many academic disciplines and majors offered at UVa. However, interdisciplinary majors, which incorporate a variety of fields into their study, are somewhat of hidden gems at UVa. Unfamiliar to many prospective students, they afford students the opportunity to focus on an area of study that spans the breadth of multiple departments. Two of our interns are pursuing degrees in interdisciplinary programs, and will elaborate on their respective programs. Additionally, a full list of interdisciplinary majors can be found below.

Colby: Political Philosophy, Policy, & Law (PPL)

Coming into the University, I knew I wanted to major in Political Philosophy, Policy & Law (PPL for short).  This interdisciplinary major was part of the reasoning behind my decision to attend the University of Virginia.  Decision-making is not my biggest strength and therefore the opportunity to major in something that covers a range of disciplines was enticing.  Given its interdisciplinary make-up, PPL allows students to map out their track, using just about any subjects, ending in a thesis the spring of their fourth year.  There are two parts to the PPL major: Theoretical Foundations, which focuses on the philosophy behind law and decision-making and Policy & Law which is self-explanatory in its focus.  A few examples of the subjects covered by the PPL major are politics, philosophy, sociology, economics, and history.  

Considering I just (officially) declared my major this past semester, I will start taking classes specific to the PPL major this fall, but I have already taken many I enjoy that pertain to my major.  My favorite class that I have taken at the University so far is Commercial Law (both I and II) with Sherri Moore.  Aside from the class being incredibly informative whether you are interested in law or not, Professor Moore rocks and makes this class engaging and fun!  Even if you are not interested in Commerce or Law, Comm Law I teaches students their rights and much about the law that people ought to know in their everyday life.  There is something for everyone in this class and 10 out of 10 would recommend (at least in my humble opinion)!

Visit PPL’s website: http://ppl.virginia.edu//

Casey: Political and Social Thought (PST)

I originally came to the University intending to pursue a degree in Public Policy. However, after having the opportunity to engage with a variety of classes and areas of study, I became increasingly aware of the comprehensive nature of policy and the many fields that it encompasses. This awareness sparked my interest in Political and Social Thought, which allows students to study topics in the context of politics within several disciplines, primarily History, Politics, Sociology, Anthropology, Philosophy, Economics, and Media Studies, among others. Students participate in a year-long seminar in addition to studying three distinct areas of study of their choice. Students use these classes to explore a more specific topic or event in a thesis project in their fourth year, typically around 100 pages in length.

Since students apply to this program at the end of their second year, I have yet to take many of the classes that constitute the program. However, at this point in time, perhaps my favorite aspect of PST is its flexibility. As a student in the program, I have almost complete academic freedom, and with guidance from the program’s director, the ability and responsibility to shape my educational experience. This flexibility is perhaps best demonstrated in the wide variety of focuses of PST students, writing theses on anything from the role of American media in the Arab Spring to race dialogue in Charlottesville. Despite diversity in their academic interests, PST students all share passion for learning and leave the program with critical thinking, writing, and problem-solving skills, all of which I hope to benefit from during my academic career and beyond. 

Interdisciplinary Majors, a complete list: African-American & African Studies; American Studies; Archaeology; Asian Pacific American Studies; Bioethics; Cognitive Science; Computer Science; East Asian Studies; Echols-Interdisciplinary; Environmental Thought and Practice; German Studies; Human Biology; Jewish Studies; Global Development Studies; Latin American Studies; Linguistics; Medieval Studies; Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies; Neuroscience; Political and Social Thought; Political Philosophy, Policy and Law; Media Studies; Women, Gender and Sexuality; and self-designed interdisciplinary major.

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