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Departments Host Events for Prospective Concentrators

With this Thursday's concentration declaration looming, faculty and academic advisers in a variety of fields hosted office hours and open houses to inform sophomores about their areas of study.

Margo S. Levine, Associate Director of Applied Mathematics, and several administrators in other departments said concentrations are not looking to attract more students, but rather to help students find their desired paths of study.

“As far as we’re concerned, as long as the students can find a concentration that supports them in achieving their intellectual goals, then it’s fine if that’s called Applied Math, but it’s also fine if it’s called Computer Science or Math or Statistics,” she said.

Levine said that the Applied Math advisers participated in a concentration fair with other departments from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences on Monday, and had their own event with the undergraduate Applied Math Society afterwards.

Jennifer L. Brady, Associate Director of Studies in History and Literature, also said the purpose of the Hist and Lit event on Nov. 1 was to advise students rather than persuade them to declare the concentration.

“Over the past 50 years, the average number of Hist and Lit concentrators per year has been in the high fifties. We expect this year’s class to be no exception to that,” she said. “It’s not concentrator numbers, it’s the kind of advising that we think is important to help sophomores—whether they choose Hist and Lit or not, to choose the best concentration for them.”

Undergraduate Coordinator of the Music Department Mary MacKinnon said that her department, as well as many other Humanities departments, typically enroll many joint concentrators.

“We have a lot of CS, English, different languages, and we have some in Chemistry as well, some even in Biology. A good number in Math—pretty constant—and other humanities department too,” she said.

MacKinnon said the Music department receives funding from the Arts and Humanities divisional dean to publicize the concentration—this year, their budget was $5,000. She added that the department has hosted events throughout the semester, such as talks with professors, but it has spent more time targeting sophomores in the weeks leading up to the declaration deadline.

“Now it’s time that we email them every week; trying to host events, trying to talk to them, without being annoying,” she said.

Folklore and Mythology Chair Stephen A. Mitchell said he tells prospective concentrators about the variety of topics they can focus on in their theses. A thesis or senior project is required in the department.

“We’ve had people who have written on topics as diverse as the differing attitudes of Native New Zealanders versus eco-warriors about what to do about the dead whale on the beach, or about the Cambodian genocide who had family members who were involved,” he said.

All sophomores must complete their department’s requirements for concentration declaration by Thursday.

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