Do you know that students can create their own majors at Brandeis with their own courses planned out? If you have never heard of it, this article will help you have a better understanding. The Brandeis Hoot had the opportunity to speak with Sara Goldstein ’23, an Undergraduate Departmental Representative (UDR) of the Independent Interdisciplinary Major (IIM), to participate in an interview. Goldstein gave an introduction about the curriculum of an IIM, and the advantages students can take from it.
Since IIM is not a traditional major, many new students at Brandeis haven’t heard much about it. Goldstein said to The Hoot, “I think the title says a lot about [the major]. So independent means it’s not part of a department, and students can design their fields of study.” All students can design their curriculum based on their interests, Goldstein explained.
Goldstein added: “It’s not like a new major. You are taking different opportunities from different departments and fusing them to create your interdisciplinary nature of Brandeis.” Thus, the idea of having an interdisciplinary major is familiar.
Students who want to take an IIM require three advisors from three different departments, and the advisors can help students to create curriculums. Goldstein explained, “For example, my major encompasses tons of departments. But I have advisors from sociology, economics and legal studies.” Students can also take courses through various departments and take advantage of all Brandeis offers by taking the best of each.
IIM students are not taking classes within a single department or major but taking all meaningful courses that will help them learn the most from every department.
Goldstein demonstrated: “So, I’m taking a lot of economics classes, but I’m also taking a class called ‘Theater for Social Change’ because my majors are about social change. So there’s a theater course that’s related, and that counts [toward] my major.” Though students have opportunities to build their own course plans, their plans need to be approved by the advisor. Students are also required to submit documents to apply for the IMM major, including a proposal, a curriculum and an explanation of all the classes to be taken and their relevance to the major.
One of the cardinal issues that students may encounter when making their IMM is how to make their own curriculum. In general, each person has their own story. Goldstein suggested that students could take a look at other universities’ course offerings and consult professors at Brandeis.
For Goldstein, she was really interested in inequalities, but there were no majors specifically focused on inequalities at Brandeis according to Goldstein, and that is why she decided to choose IIM as her major. Goldstein said, “Social policy is a major in some schools and inequalities in some schools, so I looked at them to see what type of classes those offered, and then they provided me with previous curriculums of other students who studied similar things in IIM, and I looked at those classes.”
Goldstein recommended that students interested in pursuing Independent Interdisciplinary
Majors talk with one of the UDRs for advice. Goldstein explained that this would be a great first step in getting started with the major. According to Goldstein, if students are interested in media communications, they should reach out to Maddy DuLong ’23, the other UDR of IIM. If students are interested in math-related subjects or inequalities, it is better to speak with Goldstein. The next step in declaring the major is to submit the proposal and other documents mentioned before. Then, students need to join a committee meeting that meets every semester. The committee will look through all the majors and ask students questions during the session regarding their major choice.