by Rosie Sinapi
Editor in Chief
With interest rising in both interdisciplinary learning and multicultural fields, ULV has instituted two new majors, Anthropology and Comparative Literature, and two minors, Peace Studies and Latin American Studies.
After a year and a half of negotiations with the La Verne review process and pressure from the Church of the Brethren to bring a Peace Studies Program into the curriculum, it will be offered as a minor next fall.
Four years ago, a proposal to bring the minor to La Verne was attempted by a group of faculty, but it did not pan out.
Jane Kirchner, peace studies chair and Catholic campus minister, has been at the University of La Verne for two years. A graduate from Notre Dame with a masters in international peace studies, Kirchner will teach many of the courses pertaining to Peace Studies.
In the proposal, Peace Studies is the “interdisciplinary program which examines the process of the engagement between the individual and the human and natural environment in a context that affirms mutual welfare and cooperative security.” In essence, “it draws from a lot of disciplines,” said Kirchner.
The minor falls within the humanities courses. The core requirements, as well as the electives, were chosen by the committee and advisers.
According to the committee proposal, the program allows students to “1) evaluate a range of definitions of peace; 2) gain knowledge of a variety of approaches to peacemaking; 3) develop their own personal position on peace and peacemaking; and 4) become acquainted with opportunities for translating their positions into actions.”
“Taking any of the Peace Studies courses will make you a better leader in the world, in whatever place you live,” said Kirchner.
Kirchner quotes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “‘Peace is not the absence of tension, but the presence of justice.’ In correlation Peace Studies isn’t about removing conflict from our lives, but bringing justice to those places where we live, we work and have relationships,” said Kirchner.
“Anyone who is interested in this will enhance their major degree,” she said.
Also in the realm of liberal arts, the University has added an Anthropology major. According to Dr. Kimberly Martin, associate professor of behavioral science, the Behavioral Science Department felt it was time to include the discipline as a major.
“Last year at our department meeting, we felt we would be ready for it,” said Dr. Martin.
For the past four years, the department had an Anthropology major, but it was only available through interdisciplinary seminars. Dr. Martin often taught students outside her average workload.
Due to the time constraints put on her and a growing interest by students, the department went ahead and incorporated a major into the classes offered.
The classes to be taught include Cultural Anthropology, Language and Culture, Human Adaptation, Archeology, Ethnic Relations, and Culture and Personality.
“It’ll be in the catalog next fall,” she said. “I want people to know that all of these classes are open to everyone.”
Dr. Martin added that taking Anthropology helps facilitate interest in other cultures.
“Another part of it is that students don’t know this is an option at the University,” she said.
By declaring it as an official major, Dr. Martin is able to do more excavating with her advance classes and the department can have other teachers besides Dr. Martin teach the class.
“I am unassumedly a braggart about my field. It has a lot to offer the University,” she said.
The University has also instituted a Comparative Literature major. Just approved a couple of weeks ago by faculty, the major combines literature and culture.
The journey for this class began over a year ago when Dorena Wright, assistant professor of English, Dr. Rhoda Kachuck, professor of English, and Dr. Gerard Lavatori, associate professor of French, worked on the idea of combining their classes.
“We might have a student who really loves literature,” said the major’s presenter, Catherine Henley-Erickson, professor of English. “That student in the past may have been an English major and a French major. So this is going to provide for the student who is interested in literature from a broad base of cultures not just English.”
The major will include the same core class as the traditional English major, but the Comparative Literature major is interdisciplinary and will call on literature and other fields. Some of these classes include French Literature in Translation, Literature of the Holocaust and Major African American Authors.
“We’re pretty safe with faculty members,” she said. “We currently have only two new courses. We will be pulling in faculty members from other disciplines to help.”
At the end of the student’s college experience, the major provides a culminating experience class, as opposed to taking a test and completing a thesis.
“I think it fits really well into the interdisciplinary push at La Verne,” she said. “It brings together multiple literary traditions and studies how different methods look at those. It can shed new light at why the traditions are good.”
Dr. Andrea Labinger, professor of Spanish, also felt a bridge was needed to connect Spanish language courses and Latin American culture. It prompted Dr. Labinger to organize the new minor, Latin American Studies.
“It’s not an exhaustive lists of classes which a student must complete,” said Dr. Labinger. “Plus, many other classes will be included eventually as electives.”
As for now, students must complete two core classes and 20-24 elective units. What the classes do demand of the student is a vast background in subjects affecting Latin America. These include religion, politics, literature and art.
“This is an inducement to further a student’s learning. We have the right kind of university for this because we are so diverse,” she said.
There seems to be a strong interest by Latino students to take the minor, but Dr. Labinger hopes the interest will grow to include more students from all backgrounds. She points out the fact that the minor does not obligate students to be Spanish speakers.
“Taking these courses are good preparation for graduate school work,” she said.