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Senate re-authorizes two interdisciplinary programs

The Faculty Senate on Feb. 5 voted unanimously to renew undergraduate interdisciplinary programs in the humanities and in mathematics for five-year terms.

The Humanities Special Programs garnered high praise from several senators who have taught in the program. "This is one of the most satisfying teaching experiences anyone can possibly have," said English Professor Herbert Lindenberger.

Students can obtain a bachelor's degree in humanities through a concentration in modern thought and literature or through a self-designed concentration.

Despite the overwhelming enthusiasm that was expressed for the program, which graduates about 20 students per year, several senators said they were worried about its long-term future because no incentives currently exist to encourage faculty to participate in it.

"The program has relied completely on the goodwill of faculty," said Alice Rayner, associate professor of drama. "And because there are now incentives in other areas, the goodwill is even greater."

The Program in Mathematical and Computational Science, which combines computer science, math, statistics and operations research courses, also was re-authorized.

In making the recommendation for renewal, John Taylor, professor of economics and chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Studies, said that the program serves an important niche for students.

"It's a useful alternative for students interested in math, particularly in the applied side," he said. "Stanford doesn't have a statistics major for undergraduates, so to some extent this replaces that."


By Marisa Cigarroa

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