Four new additions to the repertoire of minors in the College of Arts and Sciences — history of capitalism, public policy, Viking studies and crime, prisons, education and justice — aim to cultivate humanities interest in an increasingly pro-STEM academic climate, according to Prof. Lawrence Glickman, history.
“We are all concerned with maintaining student interest in the humanities and social sciences at a time where national trends are moving away from that,” he said.
The history of capitalism minor is designed to take a global approach to the subject, examining capitalism through many different cultural and historical contexts, according to the University.
“There’s a lot of worldwide discussion about capitalism and its morality,” Glickman said. “Our minor allows us to take a multifaceted approach to a complex issue, and gives students tools to analyze the world around them.”
The Viking studies and public policy minors also aim to help students broaden their historical and global awareness, the University website describes.
In the Viking studies minor, students study the impact of Viking migrations throughout history. Cornell is also “one of the few North American universities” that offers classes in Old Norse languages, according to the University. The public policy minor offers a worldwide perspective on government processes and policy-making on continents from the United States to Africa.
Through study of crime, prisons, education and justice, students will become able to assess progress in domestic public policy as well, according to to Prof. Joseph Margulies, government and law.
“[The minor] was inspired by a growing recognition that we are in a possible moment of opportunity with respect to the problems of mass incarceration and the carceral state, the deficiencies of the criminal justice system and the relationship that already existed between Cornell and the Cornell prison education program,” Margulies said.
Numerous Cornell faculty members are already involved in Ithaca’s local prison education program, teaching classes and building relationships with inmates in the Auburn Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison, according to Margulies. This semester, he said, a “record high” of 65 students are serving as T.A.s.
Isabel Caro ’18, a T.A. in the program, said that working in the prison has exposed her to prisoners’ “humanity.”
“We’re trying to show their humanity … and the idea that they can change,” Caro said. “They really are just people even though they’ve made mistakes.”
Margulies added that he believes exploring different perspectives and cultural realms is a crucial aspect of learning.
“The recognition that we all share common humanity, even those whose lives are very different from ours, is an invaluable lesson,” he said. “I would say that it is one of the most important lessons you can get from a liberal education.”