The Major Requirement
The major requirement represents learning mastery in an area of specialization. Majors are possible in three separate areas -- the departmental major, the interdepartmental major and the individually designed major.
Departmental major requirements are determined by each of the academic departments. These include a maximum of 10 required units in the department as well as possible cognates within other areas. A student may declare two majors. Requirements for departmental majors are revised periodically, and full details appear in each departmental description in the Departments and Courses section of this catalog. The departmental majors offered at Albion are listed below:
Anthropology and Sociology
Economics and Management
Interdepartmental majors include American studies, international studies, mathematics/economics, mathematics/physics and public policy. Complete details are listed under the Departments and Courses section of this catalog. Once an interdepartmental major is established, it is administered in the same way as a departmental major.
Individually designed majors allow freedom of choice. Under this program students have created their own majors in such fields as arts administration, environmental science, cognitive science, Latin American studies, political economy, twentieth century social philosophy and public health.
Albion permits a student to design an individual major by first proposing it to a faculty member willing to serve as the major adviser. The student and the adviser must identify two other faculty members who will serve with the adviser as the student's "major committee." One member of the committee must come from outside the adviser's own department. Before beginning an individual program of study, the student must secure the major committee's unanimous approval of the proposed program as well as the approval of the College vice president for academic affairs. This approval must be granted no later than midsemester of the second semester of the student's junior year. A copy of the approved program and any subsequently approved changes are to be filed with the registrar after being signed by the vice president for academic affairs. In essence, the program then becomes an agreement between the student and the institution. The requirements for an individual major include a minimum of eight units of course work, plus one unit of directed study which demonstrates ability to perform independent scholarship or creative activity related to the proposed major program.
An individually designed major provides an opportunity for the student to vary his or her curriculum. An example is a student wishing to major in "British government." Such a major is not offered under the interdepartmental program, nor is it a subject most undergraduates pursue. At Albion, a student can combine courses from the Departments of Political Science, History, Economics and English to show substantial knowledge of British government.
Detailed regulations and forms for filing an individually designed major are available from the Registrar's Office.
The First-Year Experience
The William Atwell Brown, Jr., and Mary Brown Vacin First-Year Experience assists students in making the transition from high school to college. Through a broad array of academic and co-curricular programs, the First-Year Experience provides a foundation for students that will sustain them throughout their undergraduate years and that will enable them to achieve their academic and personal goals. The principal features of the program are described below.
Academic and General Advising -- The advising process begins during new student orientation and continues in periodic meetings with faculty advisers and Student Affairs staff during the first year.
First-Year Seminar (LA 101) -- Designed to introduce entering students to the liberal arts tradition, the First-Year Seminars nurture academic skills, creativity and active inquiry. Small class sizes ensure constant interaction among faculty and students. The seminars often address cutting-edge topics, and most include research projects or other hands-on learning experiences. Some feature an extended field trip, to a location in the U.S. or overseas, to give students a firsthand look at the issues they are studying.
Recent seminar topics have included: Genes and Society, Justice, Art in the Environment, Water: Science and Policy, the Holocaust, and Albion and the American Dream. The class schedule, available at www.albion.edu/registrar/, lists the seminars offered for the current academic year.
Seminar Associations -- The students enrolled in a First-Year Seminar also come together as a Seminar Association. Led by a peer mentor, the association members will participate as a group in the Learning Strategies Workshops during the fall semester and continue to meet for both academic and social events during the spring semester of the first year.
Learning Strategies Workshops -- Running in tandem with the First-Year Seminars, the Learning Strategies sessions are geared to helping first-year students succeed at Albion. They introduce students to campus support services, equip them with time-management and other decision-making skills, and assist them with academic and personal goal-setting.
In the Richard M. Smith Common Reading Experience, offered as one of the Learning Strategies sessions, students and faculty discuss a book they have read during the preceding summer. Past Common Reading Experience selections have included Ron Suskind's A Hope in the Unseen, Debra Dickerson's An American Story, Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed and Moises Kaufman's The Laramie Project. Through reading and discussion, students develop a greater appreciation for the perspectives of racial and ethnic minorities and for the ways diversity enriches American society.
Academic Planning -- Throughout their four years at Albion, students are encouraged to think about their career and personal goals, as well as the academic experiences that will enable them to reach those goals. After completing a self-assessment, students create a digital portfolio, which will eventually reflect their academic achievements; internship, research and other practical experiences; leadership accomplishments; and community service. Students maintain their portfolios on the World Wide Web so that they may be easily shared with prospective employers and graduate schools.
For more information on the First-Year Experience, contact the First-Year Experience office.